Best Shots Extra
Queen Sonja #1
Written by Joshua Ortega
Art by Mel Rubi
Color by Vinicius Andrade
Letters by Simon Bowland
Review by Troy Brownfield
I think that it’s safe to say that Red Sonja has been Dynamite’s flagship ongoing title since the company made its breakthrough. Though it had ups and downs over time, it was pretty consistent action-heavy title, driven alternately by strong artists and writers like Brian Reed that tried to do different things with a familiar character. Now, the character is in brand new territory as the story morphs into that of Queen Sonja. Writer Joshua Ortega is at the helm alongside Mel Rubi, the artist that injected life into Dynamite’s first Sonja title when it began.
So, for you, the reader, what does that mean? From the first issue, it certainly seems like Dynamite plans to increase the voltage. Rubi’s art is as strong as ever, but he’s refined his Sonja a bit more. His style is more fluid and dynamic, lending a greater feeling of motion and “fight choreography” to the proceedings. Rubi’s Sonja is both sexy and scary; he gives her demonic expressions in the heat of battle that belie her trademark underdressed state.
By this point, as uncomfortable as Sonja may look to us in her attire, is comfortable in it, and she blithely puts pay to that point by continuing to cut down anyone in her way. It’s also my impression that the violence may be a bit more graphic, perhaps gravitating toward a pulpier style. Yes, there are cheesecake moments (like the striking shot of Sonja bathing), but there are many more moments of Sonja laying waste to her enemies.
In case you were curious what the queen is doing running about hacking brigands to bit, the story does skip back to “Four months before the rise of Queen Sonja”. A new menace is abroad in the land, and it leads Sonja into a battle with a surprising antagonist. The twist is a nice hook that will send readers flipping back through the issue for clues while simultaneously tuning them up for the next issue. I like the fact that Ortega is taking the opportunity to add some mystery to the proceedings; here’s hoping that he layers in some court intrigue as things move forward. While it’s undeniably fun to see Sonja solving problems with her sword, I’d like to see how the character deals with governing as well.
In addition to the main story, the issue comes with a couple of extras. You get a reprint of what was the original Marvel first issue from the day by Roy Thomas, Esteban Morato, Neal Adams, Ernie Chan and Jose Villarrubia, which is a gorgeously rendered old-school kick. And there’s also several preview pages of Rubi’s pencils, which are just terrific on their own.
Queen Sonja comes across as a pretty accessible read. Between the text intro and the “four months” device, new readers have basically what they need to get going. Dynamite’s take on the character continues to be filled with action and slick production values. Long-time fans should love it, and sword-&-sorcery devotees that have never had the occasion should check it out.