Review: Red Sonja: Berserker (One Shot)

Ever since I began actually reading comics and not just looking at the pictures in the early 1980s, I have been a fan of Swamp Thing. I came into it as a teenager right during the Alan Moore era. I was hooked from then on. Moore did eventually leave, but I stayed.  I saw many ups and many downs on the title and I actually was about to quit it in the early 1990s, but something happened that not only brought me back into the fold, but turned me into a lifelong fan. That “something” was Nancy A. Collins’ two year run on the title.  I think Collins not only had a good run on Swamp Thing. She may have even bested the mighty Moore in story. Collins added a deeper human touch to the muck monster and explored areas that Moore never even dared to tread. Sure, demons, monsters and all sorts of strange creatures are interesting and written in by both writers. But to write about family in the midst of demons, monsters and all sorts of strange creatures, now that is writing and Collins busted it out like no other. Hell, she even brought back Anton Arcane. I’m sure the New 52 guys really appreciated that. Collin’s run on Swamp Thing #110 to #138 is still one of my very favorites and it doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. It is fine work.

No, this is not a review of Swamp Thing. I just wanted to set the tone to let you know how I view Nancy A. Collins as a writer. She hasn’t done a ton of comics, but with her Swamp Thing run, she earned my total and utmost respect for all time.

It appears that someone at Dynamite Comics must have thought the same thing as me because Collins has been given a one shot offering of another one of my favorite heroes of old, Red Sonja. In this Berserker tale, Collins brings out all of those elements that make her such a great writer. She humanizes the story, pulling at your heart as well as your soul as you follow the tale of Red Sonja and her dealings with a polar bear cub that she grudgingly rescues after an encounter with some men who are not too into the rights of women to say the least.

RSBerserker-CoversSonja saves the cub and they build a relationship built on survival. The two eventually separate and many years pass, but they come together in the most interesting of circumstances.  I don’t really wish to give anything away. Hey, it’s a one shot. You need to read it.  All I can say is that I have read a lot of Red Sonja through the years and I can’t think of a time that she is presented in such a fragile way even though she is as tough and a nearly invincible in her fighting skills. She still is human, despite her skills… and, she is a female in a male dominate land.

Collins really opens up the what it is like to be a women in a warrior culture of nearly all males. Sonja knows who she is and what she can do, but all the men around her severely underestimate her simply because she is a woman. It is a unique angle that really plays into this story well making the ending even all the more satisfying.

Fritz Casas art likewise gives a nice complement to Collins’ writing. Sonja is drawn very powerful and stoic, a force to be reckoned with. But even so, all the men around her for the most part see her as nothing more than a weakling woman. I think the art does an ample job at displaying the prejudice as looking at it objectively, you see her as a bad ass. These men can’t however as they believe themselves to be the masters of all. It works with the story and the art does adjust just ever so slightly as the story progresses that allow these same men of prejudice to view our lady for what she is when push comes to shove.

It really feels good to see Nancy A. Collins back in the saddle writing for a solid comic title like Red Sonja. Reading her work again has helped me to be ushered back to my past of reading her Swamp Thing run. The same emotions held true then as they do now with this one shot. And I am proud to report that Collins has not lost any of her great writing talent. I would love to see her do some more with the title in the future.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Nancy A. Collins Artist: Fritz Casas Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $4.99 Release Date: 2/12/14