The Red Sonja relaunch at Dynamite, debuting this week, features covers from multiple female artists — but the publisher and writer Gail Simone aren't stopping there.
Dynamite announced Legends of Red Sonja on Monday, a four-issue anthology miniseries featuring a lineup of noted female writers, with the first announced crop consisting of Marjorie M. Liu, Mercedes Lackey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Rhianna Pratchett, Leah Moore, Tamora Pierce, Blair Butler, Nancy Collins, Meljean Brook, Nicola Scott (her first published story as a writer, Dynamite notes) and Devin Grayson — who has been mostly absent from the comic book scene in recent years following runs on Batman: Gotham Knights and Nightwing in the early 2000s.
"When it was first decided that I would be taking part in the relaunch of Red Sonja, we had what I thought was a very fun idea, which was to have all the covers and variant covers be drawn by top female artists," Simone, who also writes Batgirl and The Movement for DC, is quoted in Dynamite's press release. "So when Dynamite told me that the 40th anniversary of Red Sonja was coming up, I thought, 'I wonder if we could do the same thing, but with all my favorite female writers?' I can't tell you how exciting this is for me, it's something I've wanted to do for years."
The Legends of Red Sonja format is described by Simone as "a braided story, with individual, unique stories written by titans of comics, prose, and the gaming world. These are all powerful voices whose work I adore... Getting to hand-pick this crew of fierce women was an absolute joy, and the fun of it is, we're all fans of Red Sonja, and of each other."
Dynamite's press release also includes comments from some of the Legends of Red Sonja contributors:
Rhianna Pratchett (Heavenly Sword, Mirror's Edge): "I treasured my Red Sonja poster when I was kid. So to get the opportunity to write a story for the character, and to do it in the company of such extraordinary, talented women, is a dream come true. My younger self is definitely high-fiving my older self."
Leah Moore (Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery, Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon): "It's not everyday that Gail Simone asks me to write Red Sonja. To be honest, I'm glad, because when it happened, I had to be peeled off the ceiling. Writing Red Sonja has been a personal ambition of mine for a long time. She is about the most fun a writer can have. She's a loner, a grouch, a badass, and is apparently impervious to cold. I am almost too excited about this project to actually write the thing, which is counter-productive, really."
Tamora Pierce (The Song of the Lioness, Mastiff): "This is the coolest project ever: new stories crafted by some of the best writers and artists out there, about a woman warrior created by one of my literary idols, Robert E. Howard, spearheaded by my comics goddess, Gail Simone. I'm honored to be a part of this, and can't wait to see the whole thing. It will be a ground-breaking, multilayered view of a character who has been brawling through comics for decades!"
Blair Butler (Heart, host of MSN's Nerdcore): "I'm honored and exceedingly intimidated to be included in this group of talented creators. Gail Simone is amazing -- and her take on Red Sonja is something I've been looking forward to since it was announced way back at Emerald City Comic-Con. So when she asked me to contribute, I agreed immediately, even though I'm totally nervous about it."
Nancy Collins (Swamp Thing, VAMPS): "I am thrilled to have been chosen by Gail Simone to participate in Legends of Red Sonja. I remember how excited I was when I plucked Conan the Barbarian #23 off the spinner rack as a kid, all those years ago, and finally saw a female hero capable of dishing it out with the best of them. I am honored to have been given this chance to add to Red Sonja's mythos."
Meljean Brook (Iron Seas, Demon Angel): "I'm absolutely thrilled to be writing a story for the she-devil, Red Sonja. I first encountered Red Sonja in the movie with Nielsen and Schwarzenegger when I was about eight years old -- and I know that movie isn't without its problems, but it's almost impossible to describe how incredible it was to watch a film in which the heroine was just as strong and as tough as the muscle-bound hero. I loved that she was arrogant, skilled, and never wimped out or waited for rescue, and I immediately went out in search of similar stories about her. Red Sonja was a revelation to eight-year-old me, and I can trace many of the heroines I write today back to those roots."
Artists Frank Thorne, who helped establish the character's iconic look in the '70s, and Jay Anacleto will both contribute to covers, seen throughout the story. Interior artists have yet to be announced.
No release time frame has been announced yet for Legends of Red Sonja. Dynamite's new Red Sonja #1, written by Simone and illustrated by Walter Geovani, is on sale this Wednesday, July 17.