By Gail Simone, Walter Geovani, Adriano Augusto, Simon Bowland
Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 brings Gail Simone on writing and Walter Geovani on illustration back to Red Sonja. In a short amount of time, Simone sets up the beginnings of a revenge, team-up story. There’s a bit of mystery going on as to how Sonja and Tarzan will meet until the last page, which is interesting to say the least. The villain of the series is characterized clearly as well, which is nice. We immediately have a handle on what their goals are and what makes them a villain. Geovani’s pencils bring a really classic look to the book. Sonja is as powerful in her stature as ever in his hands. Tarzan, meanwhile takes an unexpected route, especially based on what readers might expect from just seeing covers of the character.
Although Geovani and Simone’s Tarzan depiction is different, his core elements are still there, especially later in the issue. If nothing else, this crossover will certainly make readers curious about both characters’ history. Simone’s strengths are in the Sonja parts of this issue. Her understanding and tenure with that character shine through most other aspects of this issue as the strongest. That’s not to say that Tarzan’s plot is lacking, though. Seeing this depiction is refreshing and intriguing, even if some of the empathy she tries to evoke for Tarzan can feel a bit forced. When it comes time to bring the characters together, another mystery is thrown into the situation. At this point in the series, it’s hard to judge whether this aspect will be successful or not.
When it comes to art, there’s something very authentically comic book about Red Sonja/Tarzan #1, in good ways and bad. Geovani’s illustrations are solid, as well as his compositions for panels, though they are occasionally overcrowded with text. There are few quiet moments to be found. Every now and then, the images are forced to battle with the words rather than work together. The coloring in the issue has its problems as well, specifically when it comes to shading. The highlights on figures tend to be a little too bright, and because of this can take away some of the style’s realism. These struggles harken back to some of the problems earlier comics had; granted, for readers who grew up with or are fans of these styles, this issue will scratch that itch.
By the end of Red Sonja/Tarzan #1, though, these shortcomings tend to mean a lot less. Simone is putting together a story that seems to be as true to its main characters as it can be, and there are still satisfying character moments between the pages. Red Sonja fans should feel right at home in the pages of this book, especially those wanting more of what made Simone’s run a success. Anyone curious about Sonja or Tarzan should feel comfortable checking this book out as well, as the core values of both are forefront. From the start, Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 shows a respect for its most valuable asset: its characters.