Recently I spent some time with the guys on Flipside Focus, the podcast aimed at the indie market. On the show, I postulated an idea of ” what sort of world do we live in where a half-dressed blood sucking sexy space vampire can’t hold down a regular book”*. This idea could also be aimed squarely at Dynamite Comics’ other big female star, Red Sonja.
For all the critical success writers such as Gail Simone may have gained in creating an air of respectability for the red-haired she-devil, despite the attempts to have her engage with other lead characters across the Dynamite pantheon, Sonja was dealt a severe chopping of her book earlier this year. In this, the fourth volume of Sonja’s adventures, Dynamite have taken a step back in some ways albeit with a fish out of water story.
As the book starts, there is a small catch up page which succinctly covers the events of the last volume before we move onto the main event; a showdown with………..Kulan Gath…. again! Still, after defeating his pet, it seems that Sonja may fall to Gath who may have the upper hand in this battle as she awakes to find herself in a strange tunnel, with strange speaking demons (as such) and man-made steel the like she has never seen. To be honest, the cover goes someway to spoil the surprise so there are no real great shocks as the story progresses.
Amy Chu is a writer that I have a lot of time, having read and enjoyed her recent Poison Ivy series for DC. That book clearly showed she had a flair for handling strong female characters well, featuring as it did, a Sirens of Gotham reunion of sorts. Here, Chu is little handicapped with the fact that there is not a great deal of interaction for Sonja in this issue, unless you count Mr. Rat! As such, we are left with a Sonja who monologues her way through the story. This is a little diverting to say the least. I assume that Chu has used this style in an event to show the wonder and confusion that Sonja feels but it does feel as if the character is just repeating script points that would have been given to the artist. A small example of this is Sonja telling us its cold, despite the amount of ice in the tunnel. Instead of having the character tell us, show us! Let us see her breathe, which along with the ice would have let the reader understand the situation.
Speaking of the art, maybe if Carlos Gomez had spent more time on the writing notes he wouldn’t have needed to put Sonja in every variation of soft core porn model pose. I showed this book to a female colleague at my day job. She commented that the character was drawn sexy but she also said that was what she would expect. She also added that if she had a body like Sonja she would be posing also. Finally, she said that whilst she didn’t feel demeaned by the art, it wouldn’t make her buy the book. This book carries a Teen+ rating, I assume due to the art rather than the story. The Gomez Sonja is the traditional Sonja, at least for the moment. That means its chain mail bikini time. Gomez also seems to have a fascination with boobs, endowing Sonja in a style that more resembles Power Girl than any other version of this classic character. Before you think I dislike the art, let me be clear, yes I have problems with some of the poses, yes I have problems with the emphasis on certain parts of female anatomy, but Gomez whether you like the style or not, delivers a very competent and stunning line style across all facets of the book including those tricky faces with dynamic movement through the action panels. If cheesecake is your type of dessert, then Gomez should be your chef of choice. Mulan is the colorist who continues to demonstrate why certain indie books put a premium on color, seeing as it adds a veneer of quality to proceedings.
I enjoyed this book immensely. There is a sense of fun throughout, that may have been missing on previous runs. The art may attract controversy but you have to applaud Dynamite for possibly recognizing that certain characters do not need to be the implement to impact societal change. Some characters are just plain fun. After reading this new/old Sonja, I am hope that Dynamite continues with their apparent turnaround and you never know, this may indeed be the world for a half-dressed blood sucking sexy space vampire after all.
Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 4.5 Stars
Colors -4 Stars
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Cover: Nick Bradshaw
*I have paraphrased my original line from the podcast. I have after all, slept since then. For the full quote go check out the podcast at Undercover Capes.