Comic Review: Red Sonja: Worlds Away, Vol. 3: Hell Or Hyrkania

Published: September 26th, 2018
Written by: Amy Chu
Art by: Carlos Gomez
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 144 Pages

Review:

The main selling point of this Red Sonja series was that it took my favorite female hero and put her in the modern world. I like fish out of water stories, especially those that are part of the sword & sorcery genre. However, this third volume in Worlds Away sends Sonja back to her world. So I guess she’s no longer “Worlds Away”.

Each volume in this series has fallen off in quality. Now that the whole premise for its very reason to exist is now wiped away, it just doesn’t work for me anymore.

Additionally, the more cartoony style of narrative especially doesn’t work.

Frankly, this was just pretty weak, overall, and a disappointment after how cool the first volume was. And even though the second volume wasn’t as good as the first, it at least kept Sonja in the modern world and sent her on a cross country road trip, which was kind of cool.

Here, she goes back home and helps the guy from the modern world get back. Also, she finally beats Kulan Gath in this version of the Red Sonja mythos and all seems resolved.

Granted, there’s a little seed planted at the end to extend this series into a fourth volume. It makes me wonder if this was intended to be an ongoing series and that by this point, it kind of faceplanted and got cancelled shortly thereafter, only giving us enough issues for a fourth and final volume.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja stories from Dynamite.

Comic Review: Red Sonja: Worlds Away, Vol. 2

Published: May 2nd, 2018
Written by: Amy Chu, Erik Burnham
Art by: Carlos Gomez, Tom Mandrake
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 182 Pages

Review:

This series is pretty fun and this installment, the second out of four, just solidified that for me.

I liked the first volume more but this was cool, as it took Sonja out of New York City and sent her on a road trip across America. With that, she takes down a dangerous drug cartel that stretches across the United States.

Like the first volume, a lot of things that happen are the result of plot convenience. However, it’s bothering me less now and I’ve sort of just brushed it aside, as that seems to be the writing style of this series and to make certain things happen organically and naturally would probably take up more space than this story has. So it’s actually much more fantastical than a typical Red Sonja story but I’m already looking at this with the tone of an edgy adult cartoon more than anything serious.

The art was pretty decent but Dynamite usually has decent art in their Red Sonja titles. At the same time, it’s not great or memorable but it gets the job done.

Thus far, I like this series and since I’m halfway through it, I suspect that I’ll finish it and review the other two volumes as well.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja stories from Dynamite, as well as the Conan comic book stories that put him in the modern world and the second Beastmaster movie that sent the hero to 1990s Los Angeles.

Comic Review: Red Sonja: Worlds Away, Vol. 1

Published: August 9th, 2017
Written by: Amy Chu
Art by: Carlos Gomez
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 197 Pages

Review:

In the spirit of all those Conan the Barbarian stories that sent the title character into modern times, as well as the awful but enjoyable film Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, we have finally gotten a Red Sonja tale that sends her into the future a.k.a. our present.

Granted, this did come out in 2017. I just got around to reading it though, as I’ve read through a lot of other Red Sonja runs since I started this site and started reviewing comics.

I liked that this story really just got right into it and sent Sonja to present day New York City pretty much immediately while she was in a major scuffle with the evil sorcerer, Kulan Gath.

For the most part, I enjoyed the story, most of the characters Sonja meets and the art was pretty damn good.

My only real complaint was that there was a lot of things that were done for plot convenience. In comics, I can look away once or twice but there was just too many instances of it that I was like, “Oh, c’mon!”

Still, I liked this in spite of that. I just feel like this would have been a much better experience than it ended up being had those conveniences been less common and figured out within the story in a logical, believable way.

I still plan to read the other volumes in this series, anyway, as I love Red Sonja and this is a fun, fresh take on it.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja stories from Dynamite, as well as the Conan comic book stories that put him in the modern world and the second Beastmaster movie that sent the hero to 1990s Los Angeles.

Comic Review: Spider-Man/Red Sonja

Published: 2007
Written by: Michael Avon Oeming
Art by: Mel Rubi, Michael Turner (covers)
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Marvel Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, 144 Pages

Review:

Man, I really wanted to like this but it left me mostly, underwhelmed and baffled.

A long time ago, back when Marvel had the full-time publishing rights to Red Sonja, they did a one-off story about Mary Jane being possessed by Sonja and then had her team-up with her boyfriend, Spider-Man.

This longer, five-part miniseries is just a rehash of that story, as opposed to having Spidey actually team-up with the real Sonja in the flesh.

Still, it’s not the worst idea for bringing these characters together but doing it a second time seems lazy and uninspiring. But then, so does the rest of this story.

Red Sonja’s villain Kulan Gath shows up in modern day New York City to create havoc because that’s what villains do. He then uses Venom to try and take out Sonja and Spidey but ultimately, he steals the Venom symbiote for himself because this story is already cookie cutter as shit and aiming low seems to be what they were going for.

We also get suped up magical versions of well-known Spidey villains because why wouldn’t we?

I don’t know, more often than not, crossovers like this are really bad and half-assed schlock made to grab a buck from multiple fan bases. I guess this one didn’t strive to be anything different.

I mostly liked the interior art though and the covers were solid.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja crossovers or stories that put her in modern times.

Comic Review: Conan the Barbarian: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus, Vol. 1

Published: January 29th, 2019
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Barry Windsor-Smith, Gil Kane, John Buscema
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 776 Pages

Review:

I read this collection of the first 26 issues of Marvel’s original Conan the Barbarian run because I had just read Roy Thomas’ book where he gives in-depth commentary on the first 51 issues.

Also, I’m a big Conan fan but I hadn’t read most of these issues yet, as some of the earliest ones are really expensive now and because I didn’t start collecting Conan comics until this series was well over a hundred issues. I wasn’t born until the very end of ’78 and didn’t really get into buying and collecting comics until ’89.

Anyway, this was really cool to read and just about every issue was a great story with superb art, whether it was the illustration work of Barry Smith, Gil Kane or John Buscema. The book is mostly dominated by the work of Smith and I found his art here to be some of his absolute best.

What’s especially neat about these stories is that some of them are actually adapted from the works of Robert E. Howard and some are original stories made to fit within Howard’s already established universe that predates the comics by about forty years.

Not all of the Howard material that was adapted was actually Conan stories, specifically. Some of them were taken from other characters like Howard’s Kull and then retrofitted into Conan tales.

This collection of issues includes some first appearances and a crossover as well. This is where we see evil sorcerer Thoth-Amon debut, as well as the most popular female sword and sorcery hero of all-time, Red Sonja. As for the crossover, in this book Conan meets Elric of Melniboné, a popular fantasy character that was created by Michael Moorcock in 1961. Elric has gone on to have his own multimedia franchise in the same vein as Conan.

The price tag on this omnibus is pretty hefty but it’s a 700-plus page hardcover and it still costs less than trying to round up all these issues, individually.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other Conan and sword and sorcery comics penned by Roy Thomas.