RED SONJA #25

“The Sounds of Music”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Sonja is cooking a rabbit when she hears pleas for help. An old man is about to be killed by brigands. Luckily Sonja manages to save him. The man named Tariq is a musician traveling to Khambuja. He offers Sonja gold if she would escort him there. She decides to delay her return to her homeland and so sets off. At the sea they find a pirate ship and Sonja tries to barter for passage. Only the pirates are unreasonable. Tariq plays an Argosean lullaby that makes the crew start crying. Sonja takes advantage of this to dispose of the crew and set sail to their destination.

Well the final issue of Volume 4. A strange issue with a lot of philosophizing about the power of music over violence. It seems a bit unreasonable for music to have such an effect on pirates. I guess we did have to wrap up this run. I am hoping that the next upcoming volume will reinvigorate the series. A series that started strong but sort of fizzled out and tanked at the end.

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RED SONJA #24

“The Witching Hour”
Writers: Amy Chu & Alex Chang & Erik Burnham
Artist: Pasquale Qualano

Sonja is trying to shoot a rabbit for supper from horseback. She has missed twice and has one more arrow left. Only as she turns a corner she almost runs into an old hag. The hag has spoiled her hunt. Not only that but the hag has an attitude. So Sonja gets control of her temper and continues on but not before she calls the old hag a crone. Well this upsets the hag. So Sonja continues on and comes to an inn. She stops for a meal and drink. The girl that serves her turns into the hag and also the drink was drugged. So Sonja passes out and wakes up in the woods. She is confronted by a fire demon who says Sonja must confront her past and future. So next a little girl shows up that turns into an older version of Sonja. She loses a fight to the old version and wakes up back at the inn. Looking in the mirror she turns old and the mirror breaks. Sonja decides she had enough and continues on.

So this story felt like a filler. You know something that you write just to fill space. Amy has been just plotting these issues for the past few ones. Now she shares plotting so she has pretty much already moved on to new things. I like the premise of a pissed off old crone who is a witch but sadly this was not handled well. As I said just a filler issue with no substance.

RED SONJA #23

“Hyborian Rhapsody”
Writer: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Roberto Castro

Sonja is riding through Corinthia when she is stopped by the goddess Minasha. Minasha is a goddess with few worshipers but a loyal king still preys and sacrifices to her. Sonja has killed his only son in a fight so she has decided that Sonja will perform a task to make up for the lose. The king wants her to bare him a son but Minasha will not allow that so he picks the request to recover his father’s golden ax. A gryphon stole it so now Sonja is dropped outside a cave. First she has to fight a sphinx. She manages to distract it with a riddle long enough to cuts its throat. Then she has to fight the gryphon and manages to use the golden ax to kill it. She has to walk back to the king and delivers the ax. The king still wants to keep her but Sonja convinces him that it would not be a wise idea.

So we are winding down this series of Red Sonja. This was in interesting story. I love the characterization of the characters. The brooding king. The minor goddess that conscripts Sonja. The clever way Sonja used to defeat the sphinx. A simple story but entertaining. I also love the artist for this issue. He really draws a beautiful Sonja.

RED SONJA HOLIDAY SPECIAL

“A Very Merry Sonja”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Ricardo Jamie

Sonja finds a woman while riding in a snowstorm and decides to help her. This altruism has never occurred in the old woman’s life and she asks why. Sonja tells her of her time in New York. She had just met Max and it is Christmas. At a diner she witnesses the kindness of the proprietor to a homeless man. Max tells that this time of year everyone is more helpful. They run into a man in a Santa suit pursued by some of Gaunt’s thugs. Seems he was walking his dog and overheard some of Gaunt’s plans so he sent his goons after him. They manage to hide him in the Santacon gathering. So Sonja remembers this time of year and honors her friend by helping the old woman.

“Wizards of the Black Sun”
Writers: Roy Thomas & Clara Noto
Artist: Frank Thorne

Sonja approaches an Argossean city and meets a three legged goat. This goat can talk and warns her about the city. Not to enter the door with the black moon. Well Sonja ignores it and enters anyway. First she saves a boy from robed acolytes. Then a fortune teller takes her to a tavern which drugs her. She wakes on an alter to be sacrificed. Fighting back she faces a living skeleton and must choose which door to freedom. She chooses correct and escapes. Later she meets the goat and the city disappears just an illusion.

Well I had to do this one for Christmas. The Christmas story was a nice little tale with Santas and Kulan Gath’s men. Plus you get to see Sonja in a Santa hat. This woman seems to be immune to cold. She is always wandering around in the bikini in winter. The second is a reprint for the old days. It was a real psychedelic one with talking goats and skeletons and other weird things.

So an enjoyable holiday special. So Merry Christmas.

RED SONJA #22

“The Blade of Skath”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Jonathan Lau

Red Sonja is riding on her horse when a troll pops out of the woods. It knocks her off and the horse runs away. Only this troll doesn’t attack. In fact it is friendly and apologizes for scaring the horse and promises to look for it. Seems this is the troll that Max met and convinced it to be good. So Sonja crosses the bridge and finds the nearest tavern. At the village she finds it crowded and the locals none to happy. Seems the troll is letting everyone it. This is depleting the small spring they depend on. The tavern keeper offers to pay Sonja if she can convince the troll to return to his toll collecting ways. So she goes out and picks a fight. Eventually the troll realizes that it’s nature is to collect tolls. So Sonja gets enough gold to buy a new horse so she can continue her wandering nature.

What is with Sonja’s hair? It looks like Sideshow Bob’s. I don’t think the new artist has a realistic look for Sonja. Otherwise this was a offbeat story. The troll is just so friendly and doesn’t provoke easily. But his inability to police the bridge is destroying the village. An interesting commentary that doing good so you feel good about yourself is not necessarily good for the world. Some people could follow that advice.

RED SONJA HALLOWEEN SPECIAL

“Curse of the Wolf”
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Tom Garcia

Sonja arrives in a village during the festival of Valahiei. A time when the barrier between the spirit world and the real world is at its thinnest and spirits come through. Sonja just wants some ale and rest. At the local tavern she is approached by an old woman needing help. Her son is a prisoner to a monster and Sonja agrees to rescue him. So with a local man she sets out into the forest. Here she is confronted by the spirit of Kulan Gath. He distracts her enough for a werewolf to kill her companion. Sonja manages to kill the werewolf. The old woman shows up and reveals that the werewolf was her son. Now her spirit can rest and she fades away.

“Hail Halcoose!”
Writers: Tom Defalco Anthony Marques & Liam Marques
Artists: Anthony Marques & Avery Marques

Sonja is attacked in a tavern by hooded men. She has such contempt for them she beats them up with a leg of lamb. She finds out they serve Halcoose and took a little girl that was there also for sacrifice. So Sonja goes and kills both the leader of the cult and the monster Halcoose.

So this seems an appropriate issue for Halloween. Two stories with a scary vibe to them. Both were enjoyable with our heroine saving some innocent from a monster. The first one had a twist ending with the mother being a spirit. The second was shorter but fun. Nice light entertainment for the holiday.

RED SONJA #21

“The Blade of Skath”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Skath wake up from his drunken stupor and finds the village deserted except for an old blind man. The man tells how Sonja has taken everyone to depose Sandak. Feeling ashamed that he let everyone down, Skath goes to the castle. At the moment Sonja has fallen in the moat and must battle a great white shark. Skath challenges Sandak in public. This challenge is too public and his men will not back him. So Skath easily defeats the wimpy Sandak. Then throws him in the moat where the shark eats him. Then Sonja kill the shark and a great celebration ensues. Only it is interrupted by Sonja’s evil doppelganger that Gath created appearing. She has been following the amulet of Gath that Lera was carrying. So a fight ensues which Real Sonja wins by throwing the amulet over the castle wall. The phony Sonja jumps after it to her death. Sonja decides to leave alone.

So the Blade of Skath story comes to a close. A fun ending with Skath finally getting his revenge and reclaiming his castle. Sonja shows how badass she is by punching a great white. An unexpected development in having the evil double appear. So all ends well and we will have Sonja continue to wander on her own. Which is probably a good idea for this series since she has like Conan been at her best wandering and adventuring.

RED SONJA #20

“The Blade of Skath”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Brunham
Artists: Carlos Gomez & Vincenzo Federici

Sonja has found Skath only he is a drunk that nobody recognizes. So she hears his story. After he lost his blade he started drinking. He decided to go on a quest to find it but had no luck. When he returned he found Sandak had taken over. Skath was beaten and thrown in the gutter. Sonja and her two friends convince him to sober up. So they clean him up and present him to the people. The peasants are all hyped up and ready to fight. Only just before the big battle Skath falls off the wagon and is passed out drunk. So Sonja leads the peasants to overthrown Sandak. A big fight occurs with Sonja getting knocked into the moat. A moat that has a shark.

Well this story flowed nicely. We find Skath who is a has been and apparently still a drunk. Yet Sonja takes it on herself to free the people of Sandak who is a tool. His guests think that the battle is put on for their benefit. Also interesting that Sandak has enough money to bring a shark all the way to Cimmeria.

RED SONJA #19

“The Blade of Skath”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Carlos Gomez

So Lord Sandak has made an offer to Sonja and her companions to drive off the local villagers so he can rent out their homes. Lera is quick to accept the offer which really angers Sonja. So they go to the village to check it out. Once there they have to fight off some more rabid followers of Kulan Gath. Lera has an idea on talking Sandak out of his plan. So she goes to him and discusses the economical advantages to keeping the peasants so they grow cheap food while he just charges more to his guests. The reason they will charge more is to see Sonja in action. So this plan is accepted but once again Sonja is angry at Lera making agreements on her behalf. So she takes a walk and stumbles on a drunk. The drunk is Lord Skath.

This is an enjoyable story. Lera we know is carrying an amulet of Gath which is why his followers have no trouble finding them. Wisely she knows that will anger Sonja so keeps quiet. She does have a knack for talking her way out of situations. So at the end we find Lord Skath the man she was looking for only he is somewhat of a drunk. So where will this story go?

RED SONJA #18

“The Blade of Skath”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Sonja with her companions Lera and Taya are heading to Cimmeria to return the sword of Skath to its rightful owner. They are constantly attacked by followers of Kulan Gath. They also have to fight off giant spiders, undead sorcerers, and city-state guards. Lera has a secret in that she has stolen the amulet of Kulan Gath and hopes to sell it out west. Our trio arrives at castle Skath but finds it no longer under the ownership of Skath. Instead Sandak now controls it and has set it up as an expensive tourist attraction. He offers the trio a job. He wants the local peasants driven off so he can rent out their homes.

This new storyline has some great potential. I love how they are battling all these exotic threats and it is just casually mentioned as no big deal. Just a typical day. I have a feeling that Sonja isn’t going to be interested in Sandak’s job offer. The amulet that Lera has is also probably the main reason they have been attacked throughout their journey. One thing is Cimmeria was always a very primitive land with tribal clans. This idea of castles and lords doesn’t really fit with what Howard created. Although I think in the post-Thomas Conan series Cimmeria was portrayed as somewhat civilized around the borders. So I guess it could work.