It should be understood that outside of a cataclysmic event (see Death of Superman) or fundamental superhuman ability (Resurrection Man) the title character of a comic book is not going to die. The challenge of a good story teller is to establish a credible threat to that basic assumption. Red Sonja/Conan #1 does no such thing, immediately labeling our main menace and villain, Kal’Ang, as a middling court magician, a sorcerer of no merit. While that may put a chip on the individual character’s shoulder, providing ample ambition and motivation, as a threat to the existence of our heroes’ world it falls short. After the first few pages it becomes clear that there will be no substantial threat in the tale and all that’s left to enjoy is Red Sonja and Conan run roughshod over a bunch of barbarians and pseudo-man creatures. And that is fun to look at.
In typical fantasy fashion all the characters of note are chiseled and romanticized, it’s a fun thing and a staple of the genre. Some good splashes of violence and a heavy sprinkling of alluded to sex feed into these established norms. The character models in issue #1 don’t stretch the imagination; I expect/hope the further we get into the story the more fantastic the artistic departures from standard character models will be; some more artistic play with imagined beasts/humanoids from the beginning would have added to the appeal of the book.
I can’t help but feel that as readers we’ve been done a disservice. This has all the makings for a violence fueled fantasy romp but within the first few pages we are told that there will be no credible threat to fell the Crimson Conqueror and the mighty Cimmerian. All the other ingredients seem to be present, a formidable foe would’ve made the story significantly better.
Red Sonja/Conan #1 Writer: Victor Gischler Artist: Roberto Castro Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/5/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital