Review: The Chariots are Coming in RED SONJA #4

FIRST IMPRESSION

RED SONJA #4 is less consistent than previous issues in its storytelling and artwork. However, there is some solid character development, with a great eye for color. It's a more-than-serviceable chapter in a great ongoing story.
Writing
Dialogue
Pencils/Inks
Coloring
Lettering

The Zamoran Empire is still in pursuit of the Hyrkanians in Red Sonja #4. This time, Emperor Dragan pulls chariots from all across the empire to aid in the war effort. But, as with the previous issues, Sonja and the Brothers of Misfortune have may have more tricks up their sleeves.

The Writing

Red Sonja #4 is less action-oriented than previous issues. However, writer Mark Russell does a good job keeping the reader’s interest.

Sonja applying the lessons she learned under Domo of Khitai and demonstrating her prowess as a leader is a recurring theme throughout the series thus far. In each chapter, she calls on a lesson imparted by her teacher to help guide her. The book reminds the character that one can’t rely on strength alone. Otherwise, a simple surprise from your enemy can be your undoing.

Although downplayed in this issue, humor and irony remain consistent themes in Red Sonja #4. The tone of Red Sonja is like a less-madcap Looney Tunes. We see the Hyrkanian horde constantly frustrate Emperor Dragan, destroying his equipment and making off with his goods like Bugs Bunny bamboozling Elmer Fudd. The subtle humor is one of the book’s strongest attributes.

In all, there is less plot advancement here than in the last three chapters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Russell develops the relationship between Sonja and Kryon a bit, even letting the warriors express vulnerability with one another. We see Sonja is still less-than-confident in her ability to lead, but Kryon provides reassurance. It’s a nice sharing of sentiment between family members, helping flesh out their characters.

The Artwork

Mirko Colak’s artwork is impressively-detailed as always in Red Sonja #4. The settings and character designs are meticulously laid-out, drawing readers into the world. That said, the work doesn’t flow with as much ease as in previous chapters.

Battle sequences, in particular, can be hard to follow. Colak packs tightly-cropped panels onto the page in a sometimes haphazard way. It’s hard to make out what’s happening in several of these panels. Rather than feeling the chaos of battle, the reader feels detached, ultimately detracting from the effect.

That said, the colors remain very impactful in Red Sonja #4. While sandy brown and yellow tones dominate much of the environment, there are plenty of points at which colors leap off the page, producing some striking imagery.

Final Thoughts

Red Sonja #4 isn’t as memorable as previous entries. It’s still a solid issue overall, though, and well worth picking up.

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David DeCorte
David DeCorte covers comic book, entertainment, pop culture, and business news for multiple outlets. He is also a sci-fi writer, and is currently working on his first full-length book. Originally from San Diego, he now lives in Tampa.

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