Thursday, April 9, 2015

Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle #4 - A Review

Red Sonja is dead! Replaced by a being known as The Queen of Swords, this avatar of The Red Goddess must journey to Stygia with Sonja's companions in search of answers on how to defeat the dread demigod Sutekh. But they had best be swift, for the armies of Set are already at the gates of Aquilonia - the only civilized nation yet to fall to the will of Sutekh!

Regular readers will recall some months back I reviewed a Red Sonja mini-series called The Black Tower. Featuring time-travel, robots, light-sabers and flying saucers, I declared that while it might not be the worst Red Sonja comic ever written it was certainly the most incongruous in regards to the Robert Howard oeuvre and the sword-and-sorcery aesthetic.

With this issue, Vulture's Circle has become worse than that series. Much worse. And while I've come to expect this sort of thing from any story Luke Liberman is involved in writing (i.e. He Who Has Been Trying And Failing For A Decade To Sell Us On His Anti-Hero Version of Thulsa Doom), even I never anticipated something this antithetical to the characters involved.

It does pose something of an interesting question for debate - which is the more anathema concept from the perspective of the REH purist? That the proud king of Aquilonia should surrender his armies and subjects into the hands of the Stygians as in the page above? Or that the largely indifferent gods of the Hyboria age should be invoked to create a holy god-slaying sword as in the page below?

The art by Fritz Casas does offer one bit of hope. Despite last issue making lawyer-friendly jokes about the Aquilonian king still owing Red Sonja a favor and the prominence placed on said king in this issue, the artwork makes it clear that this king is not the sullen-faced barbarian we were expecting. Which, in retrospect, makes sense, as he was always inclined to lead from the front and would likely face an army lead by a demigod personally. Yet why make the joke last issue if this was not meant to be a reference to King Conan?

In the end, it matters little. I am done with this Red Sonja series. In truth, it can't even be called a Red Sonja story now that Sonja has been replaced by The Queen of Swords. And unlike The Black Tower, it can't be considered a curiosity worth of mockery.

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