Red Sonja #8

Sonja is still on the quest to bring the legendary artisans together for the dying emperor’s final bash (for which he will set free 1,000 slaves as reward). Red Sonja has been travelling with the highbrow cook that she saved from the swamp. She’s in pursuit of the great entertainer the Beast Lord, who she had previously sworn to kill. She’s also facing some.. uh, “hungers” that the cook won’t indulge. Every moment of this is perfection. 

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This page (is probably too small to read) but the end when she says “I’m Red Sonja, I’m everyone’s type” LOVE IT

When they arrive at the festival to recruit the Beast Lord, he is in the middle of a barbaric show involving abused and hungry hunting dogs and a bear raised in captivity to fight for it’s master. It’s cruel and grotesque. The utilitarian Sonja makes no qualms about digesting animals but watching them suffer so enrages her. Mid performance, she draws back an arrow seemingly intending to kill Beast Lord, but instead she provides a quick death for the bear. This earns the cook and Sonja a trip to the dungeon. She tries to climb out (Gribaldi could have escaped this fate if he’d used his clout, but he does not wish to consort with an animal abuser- I know it’s a “vegan thing” but I would like to point out that last issue, the cook fed baby lizards to swamp people and incurred the wrath of large humanoid-lizards, so not exactly a poster child for causing animals grief… but I digress). Sonja tries to climb out but Beast Lord comes along to smack talk and stomp on her hand. Ouch.

They are visited by Rat, Beast Lord’s assistant -and the one that the animals really love. She says that she hates him and that she will set Sonja and the cook free. She meant half of that. They end up in the arena, about to be killed for sport. Sonja HAS been down that road. The cook blames Rat, but Sonja spares her. She didn’t really have a choice. Rat, in turn, triple crosses everyone and sets the animals out. They attack their abuser first, but they are hungry animals and it’s only a matter of time. Beast Lord dies. But Sonja opts to bring Rat to provide entertainment (and gets a playful lick on the cheek from a tiger). 2 of 5 collected! And on to the next!

My favorite aspect currently is Walter Geovani’s interpretation of Sonja, she has a regular sized waist, thick thighs a body befitting of a travelling sword slinger. She’s gorgeous but not girly.. and on this particular journey… she’s ditched the bikini in favor of a Xena-esque dress. The art is amazing and splendid, #7 took place in a grimy swamp, this one in a more decadent and exotic setting, lush colors and battle scenes that were busy but not disjointed.  

Frison’s cover is fantastic. Minimal but very very ominous.

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Loki: Agent of Asgard #3

This issue takes a break from the view of the new young (still kind of the old) Loki and follows the older (but possibly younger?) Loki. Loki is doing laps around the space/time continuum. We follow the aged trickster back in time to him greeting a young (and still prince) Odin. Loki gets the future king (and his adoptive father) into a heap of trouble after he takes out a shape changing man from a nearby town.

Side note: Odin’s all “That large beaver meant us no harm” but the both of them a clearly wearing leathers and eat meat. Both of these things involve killing animals that more than likely meant no one any harm. Loki just happened to kill a man in the form of a man-sized otter.

 

Jenny Frison cover = Old Man Loki +reflective riches Loki front and center conveying his self centeredness.

Jenny Frison cover = Old Man Loki +reflective riches Loki front and center conveying his self centeredness.

Anyway, they stop in to a pub and order some mead, but Odin picks up on that another patron is waiting for his son who was hunting supper. Dun dun… his son was the otter. One brother demands blood, the other demands retribution in the form of gold. Loki (the hardened old man Loki) shoots a fish with a bazooka to collect a treasure. Well, not exactly, he shoots a dwarf who can turn into a fish (his name is Andvari and this is a Norse folktale that is weaved in) The gold is cursed. And the character Regin behaves about the way he was written to traditionally. Andvari’ gold exemplifies the traits of each man who keeps it, Regin turns vengeful and Fafnir turns greedy (and into a dragon, he refused to leave the treasure and his body became deprived of food and water and survived off of spells and magic in the air and it transformed him… which is a very interesting idea). Sigurd, the first hero of Asgard, some years later, comes into the same tavern, he is served by Regin who has forged a mighty sword (Gram, the sword young Loki gets in Point NOW) to exact revenge, he gives it to Sigurd. IF Sigurd will slay (the now dragon) Fafnir and bring him his heart.

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Sigurd, being a legendary hero, does this mightily and then returns to Regin (who tries to stab him in the back. Literally). Sigurd keeps Gram. And some years later discards it. King Bor dies later still, and the still prince Odin finds it. Old Loki arrives and tells Odin to hide the sword in a box with 5 keys and save it… for this young Loki…

What does that mean?!

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, Sigurd in the PRESENT goes in search of his sword, finds that Loki already got there and vows to steal it back.

This series is so utterly and consistently good. I can’t begin to imagine why the haggard old man Loki has set this all into motion, but when he looks in on his other self (with Verity!) and says, “What a precious little girl child I am.” it poked fun at the taunts that Loki looked like “he’s from Twilight” or whatever crazy crap my friends thought about this. It’s a great story, about wanting redeption but knowing that you don’t really deserve it, and that you won’t really get it. But striving on anyway. The older Loki still considers himself the God of Evil… so why has he lead this Loki that seeks redemption to the ultimate weapon? What’s the end game?!

Well, I’m unsure… but I am exorbitantly intrigued.

Lee Garbett’s drawing and Nolan Woodard’s art suit this tale perfectly shadowy but still crisp, undertones of red, gold and green illuminate the pages. The toothy dragon is larger than life, his heart is larger than a man. The fight scenes are detailed. Loki is hardened and wrinkled, a stark contrast next to the goofy young Odin.

And Sigurd: the first hero of Asgard is Black. I love Marvel.

Sigurd +(young appearing) Loki in #4!

Sigurd +(young appearing) Loki in #4!

Legends of Red Sonja #2

The Grey Riders are still hunting down Red Sonja, ready to exact their revenge for her doings against them. 

Meljean Brook’s “The Undefeated” was my favorite of the two tall tales. Told to the Grey Riders hunting Sonja through the eyes of The Beheader, a fierce warrior; Red’s armor gets even skimpier. He says that her prowess in inflated, that the stories take on a life of their own. A drunken wager between The Beheader and Red Sonja lead them on a quest to pry a ruby from the jaws of an elephant beast. The Beheader paints her as a coward who hides behind men. The ruby around his neck proves he won the wager, right? Maybe Red Sonja isn’t as fierce as lore makes her… uh huh..

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In Tamora Pierce’s story, the Grey Riders are greeted by a child whose family has recently employed Sonja to protect her mother, a Goddess. Cassandra James’ art here was rather weird. Belly buttons in odd places, Sonja’s face crooked. It didn’t have the swagger of the first story. Interestingly, Red’s tale by Tamora Pierce is told through the eyes of a young girl, since Pierce is well known for the Young Adult series the Beka Cooper trilogy and Song of the Lioness featuring young female protags, it certainly added another dimension. 

Through out all this, Sonja is lurking in the shadows, making sure the Grey Riders are drawn off course. 

Next Month: January 22nd: Rhianna Pratchett, author of the Lara Croft video game origin story entertains us with a “legend” along with writer of Sherlock Holmes/Damsels/Raise the Dead Dynamite comics superstar Leah Moore. Nichola Scott, who worked with Gail Simone on Birds of Prey makes some art.