RED SONJA: AGE OF CHAOS #5, available from Dynamite comics on July 15th, continues Red Sonja and Chastity’s race to the temple of resurrection before Purgatori beats them to it. Erik Burnham’s story and Jonathan Lau’s art ratchet up the action from the previous issue (read out review of issue #4 here) by shifting the one-on-one battles to an all-out war.
Lucio Parrillo’s cover is gorgeous, as always. Red Sonja stands triumphant in battle as she prepares to deliver the masterstroke. Strong and feminine all at once, Parrillo consistently paints covers that are worthy of framing on any comics fan’s wall.
Burnham sets the tone with a key word in the third panel on Page One: Urgency. Red Sonja and Chastity are racing to the temple ahead of the competition. The duo urgently battles Jade’s vampire horde before they lose ground. And Red Sonja must quickly defeat Purgatori to gain control of the amulet. It’s race after race after urgent battle. This is edge-of-your-seat action storytelling at its finest.
What makes Burnham’s writing even better is the attention to separate voices with this plethora of characters. If there were no panels and you were just given the dialog, it would be easy to tell which phrase was spoken by Chastity versus Evil Ernie, as an example. Keeping unique voices separate and distinct breathes life into the characters, and Burnham does it expertly.
Again, I’m struck by the texture and depth of Jonathan Lau in this series. Lau’s work is exceptionally detailed to the point of being photogenic. Reminds me of the early days of Image Comics BUT with less anatomical exaggeration and propensity for hero poses, a stronger sense of movement and power with the characters moving in their surroundings.
On a small note, this issue has the coolest fight scene decapitation I’ve seen on print or film in a very long time. It’s a, quite frankly, badass move, and I hope to see more cool choreography like this in the future. Speaks to Lau’s gift for rendering action and fight scene choreography.
Andrew Dalhouse’s coloring is on fire in this issue…literally. Through the first third of the issue, the duo is riding horses at full speed, and as night falls, the torches come out. Dalhouse punches up the night scenes by incorporating the fire glow into the battle to give it huge amounts of visual interest to break up the wave of vampire thralls on the attack. At one point, Dalhouse blends the torch fire with the redness of Sonja’s hair to almost imply her hair is burning with battle fury. It may have been unintended, but it works.
Carlos M. Mangual has demonstrated he can letter sword slashes perfectly. With so much swordplay going on, Mangual’s sound lettering makes it easy to pick out which weapon is delivering the key stroke when and where it happens. A great example of using sound effects to not only add to the art but to direct the reader’s eye to help tell the story.
RED SONJA: AGE OF CHAOS #5, available from Dynamite comics on July 15th, is my weekly top pick for the second issue in a row. The story practically drips with adrenaline, the art is exciting. Don’t sleep on this book.