By Gail Simone, Jim Zub, Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart
Taking two characters born in the world that Robert E. Howard create (Conan being created by REH and Red Sonja being created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith loosely based on a REH character for the original Marvel series) and bringing them together for a series is as obvious as peanut butter and jelly. The only problem, up to this point, has been that Dark Horse has had the rights to Conan and Dynamite has had the rights to Red Sonja. The rights haven’t changed, but the two publishers have certainly become much more friendly in recent years and considering the popularity of Gail Simone’s Red Sonja and Brian Wood’s Conan the Barbarian series (which has since ended) it was a no-brainer to get these two legendary characters together.
Even though Brian Wood is no longer attached to this project, as his series has ended, and Fred Van Lente has taken over the regular Conan series at Dark Horse with Conan the Avenger (and also not attached to this project), Jim Zub steps in to team with the mighty Gail Simone to write a fantastic, long-awaited crossover series. In fact, this story is so well written and so seamlessly tied together that someone might pick this up and not know that these two characters haven’t crossed paths since Marvel owned the rights to Conan. Gail Simone, obviously, knows her way around the She-Devil with a Sword, just read her Dynamite series if you need more proof, and together with Zub Conan Red Sonja #1 really is the crossover that REH/ Marvel Conan fans have been waiting for.
For the most part, artist Dan Panosian does a great job with these two iconic characters and the world they’re part of. There are a few minor slip ups, so to speak, with a face or expression, but it’s forgivable and will generally go unnoticed especially after you see his great two-page splash of a dueling Conan and Red Sonja. Panosian draws a mean Conan, though the hair might not be what you’ve come to expect of the Cimmerian especially if you’ve read the REH works, and a great Red Sonja who’s got the perfect mix of beauty and fierceness. As you’ve come to expect with the color work in a book that has Dave Stewart’s name on it, everything he’s touched is stellar and masterfully crafted. He really does elevate the art of any book, and it’s always a treat to see his work.
All in all, Conan Red Sonja #1 was a treat. It might not be absolutely perfect, but for fans of these characters and this genre it’s great. These two characters share the same world so it’s about damn time they crossed paths. Dark Horse has always done justice to Conan, from the very first issue, and Dynamite has had some great Red Sonja stories, especially the recent volume from Simone. So, thank you Dynamite and Dark Horse for bringing these two together. The second issue can’t get here fast enough.