COMIC BOOK REVIEW: RED SONJA #100 SPECIAL / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 3RD
Dynamite celebrates Red Sonja’s milestone 100th issue by giving its readers a 48-page special collecting five short tales featuring the flame-haired warrior. There are five covers available too, showing Sonja in various poses.
Sonja can appear to be a contradiction at times, which is perhaps her appeal; she’s at once a glamour model in a chainmail bikini while also being a strong character capable of bettering those who consider themselves superior to her, be they evil sorcerers or muscle-bound barbarian types. This issue walks that line nicely, placing Sonja in situations that call for brains and brawn, both of which Sonja uses with a wit that is often as sharp as her sword. It’s fair to say she’s greater than the sum of her parts.
The strength of this issue is that each of the five stories offers a different take on the heroine, pitting her against a variety of foes and tricky situations, and there should be something here to please almost all readers. It’s also the weakness; while none of the stories are disappointing, they’re also proof that you can’t please everyone all of the time. This writer’s personal favourite was the first tale, a creepy and atmospheric piece that captured an aspect of Sonja extremely well, portraying the swordswoman as a sometimes lonely, isolated character. That said, all the stories succeed in showing Sonja as someone who has developed beyond perceived clichés; they can be chilling, poignant and amusing, but never at her expense. While the style of artwork varies, it remains consistently good throughout, each artist capturing the tone of their particular story with great effect, although the body positions and curves on display may be too much for some.
It’s incredibly difficult to create a successful anthology, but Dynamite can be proud of this one. Despite the ninety-nine issues that have gone before, it give new readers a potential jumping-on point by offering an enticing glimpse into a character who is more than they bargained for, the focus of a series that is perhaps worth delving deeper into. For those who know Sonja slightly better, each story ends with a twist that will make them remember why they are so fond of her in the first place.
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