Comics: Legenderry Red Sonja Vol. 2 #1 - Reviewed

Red Sonja has been an iconic name in comics since the mid-1970s. Since her debut in Conan the Barbarian #23, she has been well known for her goddess-given fighting skills, flaming red hair, scale mail bikini and capturing the hearts of nerd boys (and certainly some girls) everywhere. 

If you are familiar with her origin back story, you will recall that she was bestowed her powerful abilities in order to seek revenge upon the man who slaughtered her family and brutally raped her. The goddess Scathach offers to grant her special powers to utilize on her quest for revenge under the condition that she never has sex with a man unless he defeats her in battle, which, appalling as that may sound to us now, wouldn’t be the first time a female in comics received such sexist treatment. 

The Legenderry Red Sonja series, published by Dynamite Entertainment and written by Marc Andrekyo offers a less brutal backstory, as well as a costume and career change for the ginger vixen. Still clad in the iconic scale mail bikini top, Sonja has traded in her loincloth for a pair of leggings, hefty leather boots and currently wears large hoop earrings and goggles atop her head, showing that this particular story will have a steampunk element to it as well as reintroducing Red Sonja as the captain of a pirate ship. 

I have never had much of an interest in Red Sonja, the character of old, for the reasons that I mention above in regards to her backstory and powers, but I was greatly looking forward to reading a new, modern version of the character. I believe a fresh, revamped take on this powerful character is long overdue. Unfortunately, it seems that I will have to keep waiting, as Legenderry Red Sonja Vol. 2 just is not it. This story does very little to showcase Red Sonja as a multifaceted character and instead leaves her nothing more than a hot babe rocking a sexy outfit, occasionally saying something witty or smart mouthed and just seems to play into fan service more than anything else. I found the story line a bit hard to follow, and though I am certain there is a plot, it is touched upon very little in the first issue. While Andrekyo is certainly not a poor writer, it seems like he struggled with what to do with Sonja in this particular series, and thus her character appears shallow, predictable and one dimensional. 

Igor Lima is certainly a talented artist and has created a physically stunning rendition of Red Sonja. She is the gorgeous, voluptuous woman dripping with sex appeal that we all know her to be. His action sequences are drawn in a way that they certainly leap off the page and the particular fantasy aspect he utilized works well for the series. That said, there is very little emotion conveyed in the characterization in this graphic novel, which I believe is rather detrimental and forces the characters to appear even more one dimensional. Again, similar to the writing, it seems like more was done as fan service, for example, the gratuitous, provocative close ups of Sonja giving mouth to mouth recitation to another beautiful woman toward the end of the story. I would have liked to see more personality and emotion drawn on the pages, but it is possible that this series just isn’t for me. 

Though Legenderry Red Sonja Vol. 2, will certainly not make it to my pull list, I can’t help but think that was the expectation when this book was created. I do not believe this particular graphic novel was written with an audience like me in mind, and quite frankly, that is ok; I will continue to wait and hope for a more interesting characterization of Red Sonja to be created. I think that longtime fans of Red Sonja, as well as those who place more value on beautifully drawn characters and action sequences than they do on riveting plotlines will enjoy this book and it will sell. It may not be for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for anyone. 

-Rachel Rutherford