RED SONJA #15, available from Dynamite on May 20, picks up immediately after the events of last issue (read the issue #14 review here). Sonja must decide to either abdicate her throne to serve the man who murdered her mentor, or watch her people starve. Her choice isn’t easy, and the consequences may be more dire than she realizes.
Jae Lee paints a mesmerizing cover for this issue. There’s a whimsical quality to Jae Lee’s art that’s very reminiscent to Mike Mignola with respect to anatomy. The proportions for Sonja are misshapen in an almost dreamlike way. Where Mignola’s renditions are blocky and coarse, Lee’s paintings are dream-like and sharp. Lee’s cover is masterful work.
Writing [No Spoilers]
Mark Russell continues Queen Sonja’s story from the last issue, and he uses flashbacks to help her make a tough moral choice. Sonja’s past adventures, which ultimately caused some deaths, teach her how to balance the cost of life with the cost of death. Her choice isn’t one she takes or makes lightly. and past enemies seize the opportunity to pounce as soon as the decision is made.
Russell infused more action in this issue, and Sonja’s battle skills are on full display. However, the action didn’t take away from the progress of the story, and it nicely set up the conflict for future issue.
If there’s one area where Russell’s writing didn’t 100% work, it’s in the dialog. There were a few spots where the phrasing was too modern for the culture and the setting. These characters are in the middle dark ages and represent a diverse range of barbaric cultures. The last thing you expect to read is the Queen’s steward saying “Damn, we really are poor, aren’t we?” It’s a minor critique, but I felt pulled out of the story when those bits of modern vernacular sporadically popped up.
Bob Q turns in another satisfying issue. Beyond the core story, Sonja’s flashback foreshadows a conflict that comes to a head in present day. Although that thread is written by Russell, Q peppers in the visage of a bull’s head in all the right spots to catch your eye and connect the dots. Q’s work is clever and adds layers to this book.
Dearbhla Kelly turns in expert coloring work for this issue. Since a significant chunk of the story relates to flashbacks, Kelly adds an opaque filter to help the reader move through the time jumps and keep the events straight in terms of linear storytelling; all done with color. Kelly adds a nice signature by popping Sonja’s red hair just a little more than the surroundings during the flashbacks for visual interest. Really great job by Kelly.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou does great work here with the lettering. The font is bold and easy to read. There’s no trace of clutter in any of the panels, which is especially impressive since the story is more dialog driven. Otsmane-Elhaou is particularly adept at panel transitions where the visual focus moves from the speaker to an object and the dialog follows. Those seamless transitions keep the story flowing without a skip or stutter in the reading experience. Nicely done by Otsmane-Elhaou.
RED SONJA #15 keeps the reader interested in the crimson-haired warrior as she struggles with problems that can’t be solved with a sword. The story is engaging, the art team turned out top-notch work, and I’m on board to see what happens next in this volume.
Author’s Note: Local Comic Shops (LCS) are going through a tough time right now with the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. Comics fans of every flavor that care about his or her LCS should try to do what they can. So, here’s my part:
If you’re in Northern Delaware, South East Pennsylvania, or Southern New Jersey area, please take a moment to visit Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, DE. Say ‘hi,’ pick up a book, order a book (they’re on Comichub.com), and let them know you support them.
If you’re nowhere near that area, please find YOUR LCS using Comic Shop Locator and lend your support.
Thanks, and stay safe.