Red Sonja: Berserker (Comics Review)

Dynamite rebooted their Red Sonja title last year with writer Gail Simone and artist Walter Geovani at the helm. Both are some of the most prolific and top-notch creators in the industry and under their pen and pencil, the new series has covered a lot of new ground and has become a monthly must-have on my pull-list. That hasn’t stopped Dynamite from putting out one-shots however, or a mini-series. We’ve had the Peter Brett 5-issue series Red Sonja: Unchained, and the anthology series helmed by Gail and featuring a number of other female writers, Legends of Red Sonja. Now it is time for another one.

Nancy A. Collins is a horror author of long standing and over the years she has worked on several comics properties as well. She was also one of the writers Gail tapped last year for Legends of Red Sonja and her contribution to the anthology was a fairly good one. Now she returns for a one-shot featuring the all-time fantasy favourite redhead, and she tells a story that is emotional and yet visceral in a way that Red Sonja stories usually are. Fritz Casas’ art isn’t spectacular, but it gets the job done and there are quite a few good moments packed into it.

Red Sonja - BerserkerWhile I love the current series with Gail and Walter at the helm, it is always nice to take a break from the usual, to read a longer story self-contained in a single issue. That’s how annuals and the like usually work, although they are often used as jumping points for new stories or to continue already ongoing ones. In my experience, Red Sonja one-shots have always been their own beasts, and there’ve been many of them. Peter Brett’s Red Sonja: Unchained was jumped off a one-shot like this, so the opportunities are always there for new stories to be told even as there are stories being told in a main series. And based on how this particular story is written, I’d love to see a 4/5 issue mini-series from Nancy, especially since I liked her contribution to Legends of Red Sonja.

Berserker has a bit of an odd title since nothing in this story particularly struck me as the character acting like a berserker. The She-Devil with a sword has always been a hot-head and in this issue she is no different. In fact, we get to see a softer side of her character here, so that confusion remains. Regardless though, Nancy has written a really interesting story here. It is by the number and predictable after a fashion, but it also provides a nice alternate tale that is different from what Gail is doing right now. Sonja is an incredibly rich character, at least as much as her counterpart Conan, and she’s had tons of adventures over the years throughout the Hyborean Age.

The story moves quite quickly here, to account for the fact that the first few pages lay out the kind of the story this is going to be and to set up the climax. Nancy’s story here is about how Red Sonja relates to the smallest of her side-characters while at the same time also establishing that she’s an accomplished swordswoman and a fighter who knows how to take care of herself. Whether we talk about the bear she friends early on, or a random man who suffers through a disgrace similar to her, Sonja’s interactions with those around her are the highlights of the issue.

The predictable elements of the issue keep it from being as exciting as I wanted it to be and thus it feels like the issue could have been shorter, but the character drama is certainly good and keeps things interesting enough.

Fritz Casas’ art is detailed all the way through. Whether we talk about the scenic backgrounds or the arena scenes or we talk about the Vikings Sonja goes up against early on or the warriors she has to fight later, there are always lots of little things packed in to each panel that provide an overall solid whole. And I also loved the fact that in the scenes set in icy and frigid Asgard, Sonja has the sense to wear something more than her usual attire. More often than not, that just doesn’t happen with fantasy heroines and is just silly. Nice to see Casas break that tradition. Plus, Mark Roberts’ colours bring out the best of the art, so his work deserves a mention as well.

Overall, this was a decent issue, and I’d like to see more from the team, if possible.

Rating: 8/10

More Red Sonja: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7; (Legends of Red Sonja) #1; Li’l Sonja #1.

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Posted on April 1, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

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