REVIEW: Conan/Red Sonja #1

Written by Gail Simone and Jim Zub
Art by Dan Panosian
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Release date: January 14, 2015

I have to admit that I was only mildly excited for Conan/Red Sonja #1 from the previews, and even as good as the creative team looked on paper, I wasn’t sure whether this book would do it for me. As a child of the 80s, my exposure to Conan and Red Sonja were from the lackluster films of that era. Ok, maybe I have a secret love of the Conan film, just don’t tell anyone, and no, we won’t be discussion the 2011 reboot. Back to the comic!

Whatever your first experience with the characters, chances are you have at least heard the names of two of the most iconic characters in all of comics, and mix that together with some well known and very talented creators, and you can already start to see this book is worth picking up.

The plot is simple. Conan and Red Sonja are hired by a mysterious stranger to recover some jewels, which as it turns out, aren’t jewels at all but rather seeds to an alien plant with great power. I don’t want to discuss specifics on what happens next, but I was thrilled with the direction Simone and Zub took a story which could have easily turned into something very cheesy.

Much of the book is spent introducing all the major players and giving some interesting background on these seeds, but that’s to be expected in a first issue, and especially important if you’ve never had first hand experience with either of these characters. The dialogue is very well written and among one of my favorite parts of this book. When dealing with characters like those in this book, it would be easy to revert to simple, brutish dialogue, but Simone and Zub make Conan and Red Sonja not just smart, but funny and witty as well. I particularly enjoyed Red Sonja’s character and it’s obvious that Simone’s past experiences in writing the character have really helped give the character the focus she needs to be really interesting.

My exposure to Dan Panosian’s art is somewhat limited, but I really enjoyed the work he has put into this book. His facial expressions are very detailed which I found to be especially important in this issue, particularly the back-and-forth between the titular characters and through some of the exposition panels. The panel work is clear and easy to follow and goes a long way to helping propel the story forward. Sure, there are a couple panels which lack the detail of the rest of the book, but that’s to be expected and wasn’t really an issue for me.

Overall, Conan/Red Sonja #1 is a solid start to the miniseries. Simone and Zub have really nailed these characters and made them interesting to both old and new readers alike. I look forward to seeing how this story develops – a definite read.

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