VAMPIRELLA/RED SONJA #8., available from Dynamite on June 10th, follows Detective Red Sonja in 1920’s New York on her search to find the missing Vampirella. Jordie Bellaire’s story is brimming with gumshoe goodness, noir atmosphere, tommy guns and a splash of demonic mischief.
Jae Lee’s covers are becoming a staple at Dynamite with good reason. There’s a special something about Lee’s covers that sets his style apart, and it’s in the way he handles thin points. In this issue’s cover, for example. Red Sonja’s hair doesn’t just flow in the wind. It curls and swirls as though it’s alive. Almost like tentacles. It gives the inanimate and lifeless a sense of organic life that’s simply eye-catching.
Jordie Bellaire’s story gets right to the point. The reader is tossed into the mix of a detective noir story with Red Sonja in the lead role. No scalemail bikinis or giant swords, and the reader is just supposed to accept it. And surprisingly, you do. Without getting into too many spoilers, there’s some planet-hopping, timey-wimey shenanigans going on. While this issue doesn’t play like a typical Red Sonja story, it works because the core of the character’s personality remains intact. Different clothes, different time, different place, and yet, you never doubt this is still the true Red Sonja. Big kudos to Bellaire for merging two genres successfully.
Drew Moss’ art is a mixed bag in this issue. For an artist to successfully pull off the noir aesthetic, the shadows have to become almost a character unto themselves. Right from the opening panel, Moss nails the shadows and the noir aesthetic to bring you right into a classic gangster film.
Where Moss’ art doesn’t work is in the character anatomy. Nearly every character on every panel is flat and two-dimensional in how they move and how they’re posed. On several panels, the characters look like wooden mannequins arranged to match the scene. Moss’ character composition is lifeless here.
Most of the issue takes place in the dark; either nighttime outside or in a darkly lit night club. Rebecca Nalty’s coloring matches the overall look of heavy shadows and darkened locales to compliment the noir aesthetic. But, Nalty adds a pop of glow to the brightened eyes of demons (goblins) that are ultimately part of the reason for Vampirella’s disappearance. Without those little, magical pops, the issue would be fairly flat, so Nalty added surreal punch with the color to bring the issue up a notch.
Compared to many books these days, there’s very little dialog or narration in this issue. The art tells the story. That said, Becca Carey’s lettering excellently continues the layers of noir aesthetic with the gumshoe narration in just the right spots. You can almost imagine Red Sonja narrating her own detective case. Carey’s choice of fonts and box fill color intuitively let you know you’re inside Red Sonja’s head. Nice work here by Carey.
VAMPIRELLA/RED SONJA #8 is a surprising detective noir story with the unlikeliest of detectives. The story is simple yet perfectly matched with classic gangster films. Despite some uneven character artwork, the visuals strongly compliment the story and the genre.
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.