‘Red Sonja: Valentine’s Day Special 2021.
Written by Bill Willingham.
Art by Giuseppe Cafaro.
Clours by Andrew Dalhouse.
Letters by Taylor Esposito.
Edited by Matt Idelson.
Cover by Joseph Michael Linsner.
Variant Covers by Jonathan Broxton, Will Robson, Collette Turner and KyuYong Eom.
The Story – Sonja arrives at the shack of a witch who she has been employed to kill for handing out unreliable predictions. She had apparently informed Yendas-By-The-Sea that he would become a great King. Instead he died in a Brothel and the family wanted a little revenge. Whilst this witch has magical powers sadly future predicting wasn’t one of them. She does however have enough mojo to defeat Sonja who heads off with a fake decapitated head to show the family. In a clever twist you see the witch command her house to up and walk and also the reader realises that this is in fat Baba Yaga.
Conveniently for our story the next individual to meet this cunning witch is Kulan Gath. He asks her to direct him to his greatest enemy only to have the tables twisted and he gets given a love potion that sends him in the direction of Red Sonja.
See! they told us this would be romantic.
Will Sonja and love-sick Kulan get it on? Will the do the beast of two backs? I suspect that this may not be the happy ending we hope for.
The Cover – What do you need to know? Linsner. That’s all. He knows how to draw Sonja. There are of course other covers, including a cosplay variant (which for once doesn’t look like a woman I saw on the cash tills at Lidl!) Honestly, I’d have bought this just for another piece of art by JML.
The Review – I recently reviewed the Vampirella: Valentines Special 2021 on the Awesome Comics Podcast and found it a little underwhelming. It felt like a regular Vampirella tale that was a sneaky way of introducing an alternate history upcoming series. This Red Sonja version that arrived in my pull list a week later (and a week after Valentines Day) was a big improvement. Bill Willingham had me feeling the good old days of Fables for a few minutes there as he intertwined two mythologies. The Baba Yaga of Russia with the Sonja of the Howard(verse …..ouch).
This is also a book with a great sense of humour. Sonja is her serious warrior self but Willingham has fun with the cast around her. We get Gath as a pompous evil maniac turned into a slobbering love drunk fool. Gath’s biographer/minstrel who flies around with him and ends up half man/half chicken later was a hilarious addition too. We also see some winged cherubs get unfortunately close to Sonja in the desert. She really can’t stand all this emotional nonsense and chops their heads off with a swing of her broadsword! There’s also a little twist at the end that declares ‘Because Love….Never Ends!’
In the middle pages we get a little extra. ‘Red Sonja’s Do’s & Don’ts of Dating‘ gives the possible date of this hot-headed warrior a few useful tips. ‘First Impressions Count’ or ‘Don’t Be Too Grabby…’ if handled baled with absolutely end up with you being decapitated yourself! Wise words!
Giuseppe Cafaro’s art is spot on. He carries character, action and humour well and we get a grimacing and angry Sonja who bursts into violence drawn with style and humanity. If I had a small quibble it would be that we get a little too many extreme close-ups on the faces of the Witch and Gath.
I’ve recently caught up on a load of Dynamite Books. They have in quite a few ways replaced the fun that I was missing at the big two. They don’t always take themselves seriously but are also growing an intriguing back story with some cracking writing and art. Sonja, Deja Thoris, Vampirella, The Sacred Six and Barbarella are really turning into a handful of series that are appearing with regularity in my weekly comics delivery. Sure, the contain moments of sclock, T&A and even whiff a little of a B Movie but that just adds to the flavour.
Many thanks for reading.