By Dustin Cabeal
Red Sonja set in the modern era continues to provide a mixed bag of entertainment. It seems that every issue will have something good and enjoyable about it, but then also have its fair share of groan-inducing elements. For now, it’s a balanced back and forth, but should it start to favor the eye rolling side of things, this would be an easy series to drop.
Even though the last issue showed Cool and the Gang showing up outside of Michael’s apartment, we begin with Sonja getting out of the tub, butt naked. She throws a towel behind her to carefully cover up her lady bits, but we get at least a partial butt cheek. From there she stands and looks in the mirror and much like anime, her nipples disappear, and so does any pubic hair. Weird that a review would point all this out in detail, right? Well, it’s weird that it’s in the comic as well because it doesn’t serve as fan service given that there’s no detail to the nudity, but then she’s also butt naked. Who then is this for? We already know Sonja doesn’t give a shit about nudity, but this doesn’t succeed in being fan service.
Sonja soon figures out that Michael is in trouble and dresses quickly to help him. He is armed only with a trash lid and a bag of garbage so he needs all the help he can get. They flee on his motorcycle, but Sonja says she must be the driver and has already learned by watching him. Sure, why not, it’s a fantasy story after all. They head back to the bar, and the bartender happens to have a girlfriend that studies Sonja’s culture. Oh, and they give her work out clothes. Which ends up being pointless since they then go to a party dressed in “cosplay” to face off against Kulan Gath.
Putting Sonja in normal clothes was great. A stroke of genius. Instantly removing her from the clothes made the entire scene of her getting them pointless filler for the issue. Also, Michael fighting with a trash lid and a bag of trash were the biggest what the fuck moment of the series thus far. Find me someone in law enforcement that would say, “Yeah, that’s a good defensive strategy.” While going back to the bartender wasn’t terrible, it was still all completely convenient to the story which is, unfortunately, the way this entire series has been written. Every character comes across as a MacGuffin rather than a piece of the story. The story only moves forward because bad guys show up or a piece of the puzzle drops from the sky and plops on Sonja’s lap.
The other major problem with the story is that for a new series the villain is majorly underdeveloped. As it stands, there’s no reason to find him evil. Sure, some people have been sent after Sonja, and they’ve fought, but in retrospect, has any of that been evil? The short answer is no. The story continues to focus on Sonja being displaced from time, but rather than make that enjoyable she’s run into two people that speak her language and learned English in a day. That undercuts the very real effort people put into learning languages all the time when a comic character in apparently a natural linguist. That and doesn’t that completely defeat the point of her having supporting characters that speak her native tongue?
The art has become enjoyable outside of the awkward opening. There is still a major problem with Sonja’s proportions throughout the issue. She’s often meant to look towering over others but ends up looking scrunched into the panel. When it’s not a full body shot, there’s no sense of her height or figure. Otherwise, the art is propping this story up a lot more than you’d expect from a Dynamite title.
There’s a chance that this series will do something different in the next issue instead of having Sonja run around the city with an off-duty police officer that only likes to talk about the laws and not enforce them. For example, “Don’t speed Sonja… but it’s cool if you don’t have a driver’s license.” Perhaps the teeter totter will shift more to one side next month, let’s hope it ends up being the side with Sonja wearing a leather jacket and holding a Katana, than Michael fighting with a bag of trash.
Red Sonja v4 #3