Thursday, October 20, 2011

“Red Sonja Blue” by Peter V. Brett (Dynamite)


A comic one-shot by internationally bestselling author of The Painted Man & The Desert Spear

Artist: Walter Geovani

When an unfortunate encounter with a demon deprives her of her trademark chainmail bikini, Sonja is forced to don a familiar blue fur tunic for the remainder of this adventure.

When I was a kid, I remember seeing and loving the movie Red Sonja, with Brigitte Nielsen in the title role (boy did I have quite the crush on her…). When I heard that Peter Brett had written a one-shot issue of the Red Sonja comic, I started hunting for it. Only yesterday was I finally able to find a copy (at Midtown Comics in New York), and the wait was certainly worth it.

One of the first things you notice about Red Sonja Blue is Walter Geovani’s artwork – it’s amazing. Crisp and beautifully rendered, it makes for a very striking book. As you read on, you realise that it compliments Brett’s writing wonderfully, too.

For this one-off issue, Brett has written quite the substantial story – I felt that the reader really got a full story, and it didn’t feel anywhere near as short or truncated as some comics have. Sonja breaks into a mad wizard’s tower to rescue the son of the local tavern owner, and the battle that ensues is a wonderful slice of Dungeons & Dragons-esque sword and sorcery. We then return to the town, and learn a little bit more about Sonja and her life, as the villagers struggle to take her seriously and she depletes the beer stock.

Brett has infused a great, wry humour into many of the panels and scenes, mainly in the dialogue as Sonja is frequently underestimated. I’ve always thought sword and sorcery goes well with a sense of humour, and Brett has found a great mix. Sonja’s full character is on display in this comic – she is aloof, lonely yet fiercely independent, and doesn’t suffer fools (or favoured tavern sons) lightly. One thing that I thought worked well was Sonja’s explanation of why she wears such skimpy armour (seriously, it’s very skimpy): when she finally explains it, it was impossible to argue that it hadn’t worked for the previous pages of the comic… It’s all about, uh, misdirection…

This was my first contact with Red Sonja since seeing the movie all those years ago, and I’m glad it was so much fun. Not only did I really enjoy this comic (it really is well written), but it was also pleasantly nostalgic. The ending is quite tragic, leaving the story on a surprise note, and made me wonder if Brett might be convinced to write a follow-up.

Great art, solid story and well-written. Not much more anyone could ask for from a comic. Highly recommended.

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