Review – Conan Red Sonja #1 (of 4) (Dark Horse/Dynamite)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics/Dynamite
Writer(s): Gail Simone, Jim Zub
Artist: Dan Panosian
Release Date: 14th January, 2015
Conan Red Sonja is an epic crossover more than fifteen years in the making, featuring two of the most iconic fantasy characters of all time finally coming face to face. To say that expectations are running high for this series would be a major understatement, as writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub attempt to bring Conan and Red Sonja together for a tale that promises to span “multiple eras in the lives of these classic characters”. Simone’s Sonja credentials go without saying, as does Zub’s success in the fantasy genre on the likes of D&D: Baldur’s Gate, but can they manage to combine these two utterly distinctive characters in a way that doesn’t feel forced, without taking away from either’s unique appeal in the process?
You’re damn right they can.
This first issue takes us back to the younger days of our titular warriors, and chronicles the first meeting between them as their individual quests see them crossing paths and locking swords as they find themselves trying to steal the same gem from the same prince. Right from the get-go, the characterisation of both is absolutely spot-on, with all their individual personalities and familiar traits buoyed by a sense of youthful enthusiasm and headstrong recklessness. The ‘big picture’ stuff is only touched upon briefly, leaving the bulk of this issue to focus on the interaction between Conan and Sonja, and their quasi-flirtatious banter and gradual, grudging respect for one another makes for scintillating reading.
Dan Panosian provides the artwork here, keeping things fluid and kinetic throughout and providing striking versions of these iconic characters that are instantly recognisable – albeit a little younger than we may be accustomed to. His action scenes are dynamic, with Sonja managing to perform her swordplay without the unnatural semi-pornographic contortions that occasionally plague her battles. She does suffer from an occasional ‘duck pout’, but for the most part this is a visually impressive comic, with Dave Stewart’s typically flawless colours providing the cherry on this musclebound, chainmail bikini-clad sundae. Panosian also provides a neat visual flourish with his mirrored layouts on the first and last pages providing an extra level of gravitas to the horrific events which have unfolded ‘off-camera’ during the course of the issue.
Rather than merely being satisfied with the sheer novelty of having Conan and Sonja in the same comic at the same time, Simone and Zub have created the beginnings of what should be a truly epic event, sowing the seeds (pun intended) for a tale that promises to stretch across the years and allow us to see the relationship between these two iconic characters grow as they do. Dynamic, exciting and filled to the brim with character, this is a series that delivers on its potential and provides a thrilling look at the undisputed “power couple” of the fantasy world.
If you want to find out more about CONAN RED SONJA, check out our exclusive interview with co-writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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