By Amy Chu, Carlos Gomez and Mohan

Dynamite’s latest volume of Red Sonja kicks off with a solid first issue. In recent years the character has continued to thrive as a comic book property and, in this case, the creative team is handling their responsibility with loyal dedication…though, there is a twist. The book, as exciting and fun as it may be, is a perfect demonstration of comic creating expertise. Truly vibrant ample material to work with. Sonja herself glides to the forefront immediately and stays there, as the driving factor in what may be her strangest adventure yet. So if you’re looking for a read that’s both easy and thrilling, then look no further. Red Sonja continues to be dark yet funny, while also furiously violent yet beautiful to look at.

Here’s the twist: This story takes place in present day New York City. Wait! Don’t give up so easily. It’s actually great, and a welcomed shift in tone for this longstanding ongoing title. It would seem, that instead of letting things get too repetitive or even stale, Dynamite has decided to take a sharp, sharp left turn. Keep in mind, this is a comic book and the more you think about it, the more obvious it becomes that the concept of Red Sonja, no matter how well it’s been done before, is outlandish enough as it is. And, oddly, the concept of a 6ft tall red-headed woman in a chainmail bikini walking around NYC is almost less ridiculous in real life than it is in a comic book universe. It’s a strange world, so why not embrace the absurd now and then?

Amy Chu writes a storm of colorful dialogue with dynamic action from cover to cover. Sonja isn’t in an ideal position early on, but that’s resolved quickly enough to keep fans onboard. Issue #1 introduces a dramatic plot with everything you’ve come to appreciate about the character in the first place, but this time in a setting that is out of her world. With sharp wit and swift pacing, this book reminds us why we love comics. Even if it feels as if the character and setting were chosen at random, like some sort of comic book creating challenge, Chu pulls it off masterfully as a balancing factor. Things never get any more abstract than the original premise.

Artist Carlos Gomez leaps forward with cinematic qualities that create a sensational intensity. From panel to panel readers are continually reengaged as each scene brings a sense of newness. It doesn’t hurt that the story itself propels readers into new territory, but the creative team has their work cut out for them all the same. In terms of keeping things relevant and original, while maintaining the essential aspects of the character and the title alike, it’s a success. At some point, you’re just marveling in the artwork, and riding shotgun as Sonja comes to grips with her situation. Gomez shows restraint, which only adds to the sense of realism required to get the story off the ground. The colors, by Mohan, only continue to fuel the intensity while he aptly handles the contrast between Sonja and the city she now inhabits. Mohan’s job is to render the art in a way that lends to the storytelling and the sense of normalcy he instills in each page creates the perfect emotional responses. Nothing is too over the top, but then nothing needs to be. What this book requires as far as color is harmony and that comes through in Mohan’s soft blending and subdued palettes. Go too far in either direction, and the story becomes a thing of extremes, whereas here we get a realistic perspective from what is sure to be a – even mildly so – controversial storyline. Controversy or not, the team takes readers to an undeniably high peak of paradox and juxtaposition that is worth checking out.

In the end, what’s not to like? Red Sonja just may be one of the strongest properties Dynamite is producing and whether you’ve tried the book in the past or not, this is a great jumping on point. It would be easy to go wrong here, if Sonja wasn’t in the foreground at the outset. That is to say, having her out in the open is not only the key to making it work, but also the trick to making it work as soon as possible. We don’t have to wait and see if we like the book, because we’re given every opportunity to love it from page one. It’s perfectly deliberate and if it’s predictable at all, then it’s likely just meant to feed your cravings for more awesome sword wielding action from the lady barbarian. As usual there’s a bunch of variant covers to choose from, but rest assured, the content inside the book is the real value by far. With a story like this one, just about anything can happen next! Don’t miss it.

About The Author Matthew Strackbein

Matt Strackbein was born and raised in Maryland but has called Colorado home for the last 17 years where he lives happily in Longmont with his wife. He began reading comic books at the age of seven after discovering a silver age stash in his grandparents’ attic. Comic books inspired Matt to start drawing, which lead to a successful career as a commercial artist. He has worked in the apparel industry for many years as a production artist and designer. His accomplishments include designing backcountry skiwear for world-class athletes as well as downhill ski race suit designs for the 2014 Winter Olympics for the United States and Canadian national ski teams. Matt currently works as a freelance textile-print designer, but still dedicates time to his first love – comics. With over 200 letters to the editor published, Matt is a known letterhack. He self-publishes autobiographical comics about his struggles to break into the industry, which finally paid off when Dark Horse asked him to produce 2-page back up stories in recent issues of B.P.R.D. Besides his own comics, Matt collaborates on independent books as a colorist and letterer. He also teaches the art of making comics to students of all ages.