(Dynamite Entertainment, 2014)
Writers – Gail Simone, Blair Butler, Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artists – Jack Jadson, Jim Calafiore, Valentine De Landro
Colors – Salvatore Aiala Studios
Letters – Simon Bowland
Red Sonja has become an iconic figure. Popularized by the Robert E. Howard short story The Shadow of the Vulture from 1934, she has become one of the most recognizable characters in comics.
Legends of Red Sonja #5 came out this week, and it is another in the long line of Dynamite/Sonja books. A list on Dynamite’s website shows that there are at least 15 ongoing or single books in their library, plus trading cards, calendars, the lot. It shows how much of the market can be captured by a beautiful, dangerous redhead in a plate-mail bikini. But that’s not news really is it?
Legends is a book that is written by three authors with three separate artists. It’s a compilation book, drawing from the Dynamite well, and pouring them all into the same jeweled goblet. Gail Simone, currently writing the Red Sonja flagship book, has joined with Blair Butler (Heart, Attack of the Show) and Kelley Sue DeConnick (Ghost, Captain Marvel) to helm this all-star, all genius cast. Is Dynamite bragging a little here? They could be, but it’s worth it. LRS #5 is one story written by three people, and that should make for at least a bit of stutter in the flow. Nope. But that’s what you get when you have three pros working together. Each has made a name for herself outside of Red Sonja, and now they have entered…uh…I’m not going any further with that metaphor. Let’s just say it’s good.
This story is based around a group of mercenaries tracking Sonja to “pay her back” for the murder of their prince. (He tried to rape Sonja, and she took appropriate action.) But this story is written from inside the band of merry mercenaries, as they travel across the country, tracking her, hoping to get a glimpse of her crimson mane. No worries friends, Sonja has their number, which his exactly what we look for in a Red Sonja book. There never is a moment when she is not taking action, getting the upper hand, or securing that hand firmly to a wall before she cuts it from the body.
The art, also divided into threes, is also done quite well. Jack Jadson (Teen Titans, Justice League), Jim Calafiore (Exiles, Aquaman), and Valentine De Landro (X-Factor, IDW’s Infestation) all team up to add their own special brand of awesome to this book. Salvatore Aiala Studios helped to join the three different styles with seamless coloring, so that the changing art styles is less abrasive than it normally would be. Because the book is written in three different voices and drawn differently for each voice, the changes don’t affect the outcome or the enjoyment of reading it.
This kind of book could be problematic, because of the many writers and artists involved; it would take superb talent and a good editor, thank you Molly Mahan, to keep everything on track. Add to the fact that this is not the regular gig for any of these people, and I can only image the hoops that Ms. Mahan had to jump through to get a project like this off of the ground and running.
Legends of Red Sonja #5 is perfect in tone for what I remember of the Robert E. Howard stories, and has added a little of its own timbre as well. Dynamite looks like it’s in one of those “embarrassment of riches” kinds of situations, but they are taking it for all it’s worth, and showing off the riches for everyone to see, which is, in this industry, all a lover of comics can hope for.
Click Image to Purchase “Legends of Red Sonja” #5 From Dynamite Entertainment’s Store: