Conan/Red Sonja #1 (Comics Review)

When it comes to swords and sorcery fantasy, there are no bigger icons than Conan and Red Sonja I must say. Sure, there might be some other heroes out there as well, but the creations of Robert E. Howard and Roy Thomas have well-stood the test of time and are very popular today in the comics world with the recent ongoings from Dark Horse and Dynamite Entertainment respectively. So it only stands to reason that there would be a crossover between the two properties, given that they are both set in the same world.

Conan/Red Sonja was meant to come out last year, around February/March, but for whatever reason it got pushed back to almost a year, and the wait has certainly been a long one. Jim Zub and Gail Simone have been given the task of shepherding this series, and I think that they did a splendid job here. This story chronicles the first meeting of these two heroes and it is well-paced with some great dialogue. The art by Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart is also excellent, being a bit stylized but also very action-packed and free-flowing. For me, who has been waiting for it for so long, Conan/Red Sonja #1 is pretty much what I wanted it to be, and then some.

Conan-Red Sonja 001As I said, this series chronicles the first meeting of the two heroes in this first arc. The issue has a very suspenseful opening and introduces a potential villain as well, not to mention that it also setups the macguffin of the overall plot. Once we are past that though, we are with the titular heroes and follow their adventures as they both stalk the same target. What happens after that, well, it is bloody, quick, and packed full of some great dialogue.

The key thing about this first issue is that it does a great job of introducing both characters while also keeping things fresh for long-time fans such as myself. Whether you know or don’t know who Conan and Red Sonja are, that is of little import here. All are on a level playing field, and once the writers get stuck in with the heroes, then things really take off. Which brings me to the second point about how well both heroes are characterized. Gail has been writing Red Sonja now for more than a year and a half and she brings all of that experience to the table. Jim has written a fair number of fantasy titles in the past, and still does, so he’s no stranger to things either. And they both have a good understanding of who their characters are and how they will behave in a given situation.

I’ll admit that even as someone who is quite familiar with both Conan and Red Sonja, the writers were still able to wrong-foot me on occasion. I expected things to go one way, but they went another way, and still it was a pretty damn good narrative decision in keeping with who these characters are. They are heroes, unsung heroes even, and since this particular adventure, The Age of Innocence, takes place early on in their careers, there’s a certain charm about them that is very refreshing to read in the story.

The story ends on a pretty grim note for the two heroes, but it is merely the opening move in a long game, and so there’s still a lot to go over here. The joint adventures of Conan and Red Sonja are just beginning and if the ending of this issue is any indication, then their future together looks very promising, especially given that they are both so evenly matched in pretty much every way possible.

Dan Panosian is the artist here with Dave Stewart on the colours and letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. The art here is quite stylized at times and has a very rough look to it, but I loved it all the same because the action scenes were pretty amazing. And there are a lot of them too. After all, this is Conan and Red Sonja we are talking about, so that is all expected of the art here. And the artists do deliver handsomely. Sonja here is very different from how she is on Red Sonja, and the same goes for Conan and Conan the Barbarian but that ultimately matters little since this art team has left its own mark on these characters and this setting, and it is a good thing too.

A superb start to the series!

Rating: 10/10


Posted on January 16, 2015, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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