Comic Review: Queen Sonja, Vol. 6: Heavy Is the Crown

Published: April 30th, 2014
Written by: Luke Lieberman
Art by: Milton Estevam
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 248 Pages

Review:

This is it! The grand finale of the Queen Sonja series and also, the beefiest volume of the lot.

This probably should have been broken out into two volumes though, as it covers two different main story arcs.

However, out of the volumes written by Luke Lieberman in the Queen Sonja series, this is my favorite of the lot. Although, I don’t like it as much as the volumes written by Arvid Nelson, because those seemed to have more energy and were just more exciting, overall. Granted, he had the benefit of using Thulsa Doom in one of his stories.

This brings everything to a close though, as events happen to bring peace throughout the larger empire. There are those that don’t want to unify under Sonja’s rule and that is the main focus of the larger story here. However, Sonja also steps down as Queen/Emperor after leaving multiple kingdoms in what she feels is, the right hands.

Ultimately, this brings the story full circle, ends on a fairly high note and also brings Sonja back to where she started, as a nomadic warrior fighting for truth, justice and the Hyrkanian way.

The Queen Sonja series was pretty enjoyable from start to finish, as even the lowest points were still engaging and helped propel the story forward. I feel as if it may have been cut short due to Dynamite feeling a need to do a soft reboot once they brought in Gail Simone to write the character, which immediately followed this series.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other older Red Sonja comics from Dynamite.

Comic Review: Queen Sonja, Vol. 5: Ascendancy

Published: April 10th, 2013
Written by: Luke Lieberman
Art by: Fritz Casas
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 139 Pages

Review:

After coming off of the really satisfying previous volume, this one is a bit of a step down. But, as I’ve said in my reviews of the previous installments of Queen Sonja, the creative team keeps changing from book-to-book and that’s usually not a good way to maintain quality, plot coherence and momentum.

Luke Lieberman returns to write this one and I feel like he just steps in when another writer couldn’t be locked down and the publisher didn’t want to go on hiatus.

Overall, I’ve liked this series and its highpoints have been really good. But it is very topsy turvy and incredibly inconsistent. While Lieberman understands the character, as his family owns the trademark, his writing style tends to move slower. While that’s fine, the installments of Queen Sonja that he didn’t write, move at a brisker pace.

I did like this story but it lacked the feeling of scale that the previous story did, which featured Thulsa Doom and a supernatural beast that was posing as the god Set.

This story involves throne politics, which is the focal point of most of this series. It shows Sonja deal with new challenges and trying to balance them with those who want to usurp her. By this point, however, it’s getting somewhat repetitive.

There is only one volume left in the Queen Sonja series, so I am looking forward to reading it. Plus, it’s the beefiest book of the lot.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other older Red Sonja comics from Dynamite.

Comic Review: Queen Sonja, Vol. 4: Son of Set

Published: October 3rd, 2012
Written by: Arvid Nelson
Art by: Edgar Salazar
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 140 Pages

Review:

Where the previous installment of the Queen Sonja series felt kind of light and was more of a prequel/Year One type of tale, this moves the story forward in a great way and also serves as a sequel to Red Sonja Vs. Thulsa Doom, as Doom is resurrected by an ancient force claiming to be the god Set.

All the Thulsa stuff here is pretty great for fans of the character. Also, everything with Set has very strong Lovecraftian vibes and it draws comparisons to the old Robert E. Howard stories that kind of tied to Lovecraft’s mythos, as the two writers were very close friends and it’s been said that it’s possible that the original Conan, Kull and Red Sonya stories happen in the same universe as Lovecraft’s.

The story was the second strongest of the Queen Sonja series thus far, following the second volume. I liked the action, the stakes and how Sonja overcame adversity and was able to further develop into a real leader, able to rally her kingdom behind her, even when it’s all in complete disarray.

My only complaint about the story is that the faux Set and Thulsa Doom sort of have their own battle and we didn’t get the satisfaction of seeing Sonja really fight either of them. But the ending, regardless of that payoff, was still good and it makes sense for the story. I just wanted to see Sonja and Doom get into a physical confrontation once again.

Overall, this was some good shit, especially for fans of Howard lore, Lovecraftian lore and simple yet badass sword and sorcery tales.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other older Red Sonja comics from Dynamite.

Comic Review: Queen Sonja, Vol. 3: Coming of Age

Published: May 30th, 2012
Written by: Luke Lieberman
Art by: Mel Rubi
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 117 Pages

Review:

I really dug the hell out of the previous volume in the Queen Sonja saga, so naturally, I wanted to keep moving forward in the series.

This chapter didn’t quite hit the mark for me but it was still enjoyable.

The main reason, is that this was more of an origin story told in flashback and I didn’t feel like it progressed the larger Queen Sonja arc forward.

Also, being that it is kind of like a Year One type of tale, it could’ve existed as its own miniseries, as opposed to being wedged into a regular, ongoing series.

Looking at it on its own, it is a good, energetic tale with lots of action and insight into how Sonja developed into the women she would become, a future warrior queen.

Luke Lieberman knows the character well but he should, as his family owns the Red Sonja brand. Regardless of nepotism or what have you, he’s one of the best Red Sonja writers since the classic Roy Thomas era. As he continues on in this series beyond this story, it motivates me to read the other volumes.

I don’t mean for my words to sound harsh, I liked this, it just felt like a roadblock. Or more like a side quest in an RPG game that takes you away from the main story.

That’s fine but this may have been better off being a companion miniseries, published alongside the Queen Sonja title.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other older Red Sonja comics from Dynamite.

Comic Review: Queen Sonja, Vol. 2

Published: July 6th, 2011
Written by: Arvid Nelson
Art by: Jackson Herbert
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 140 Pages

Review:

This volume in the Queen Sonja saga was a huge step up from the first one.

By the start of this, she is already queen and she’s been ruling for a bit.

The bulk of the story revolves around a young man, very similar looking to Conan or Kalidor from the Red Sonja movie, but if he were younger and not as buff as Schwarzenegger. This character also has a little sister and a demon possessed sword that bites off the fingers of others who try to use it.

Sonja and the young man are at odds with each other, due to a history between their peoples. However, she soon takes the man and his sister in and shortly after, starts to fall for the guy romantically.

There is more to the man than what is apparent at first and everything is tied to his demon sword and to his backstory, which saw his mother sleep with a demon beast to help her family survive after the death of her husband.

The story is fast paced, well written with likable characters and a romantic angle that is believable for the Sonja character. She struggles with her emotions, a defeat and has to learn how to balance all that with being a monarch to a kingdom that has some major issues and cultural biases.

The art is pretty good and I found it to be better than the first volume as well.

In the end, I enjoyed this Red Sonja tale a lot and it makes me look forward to the third volume, which I should read and review in the near future.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other older Red Sonja comics from Dynamite.

Book Review: ‘Silken Swords: An Informal Guide to the Women in the Fiction of Robert E. Howard’ by Fred Blosser

This is a pretty cool book to have around for those who like Robert E. Howard’s work.

It’s all about the female badasses from his stories whether they appeared in the tales of Conan, Solomon Kane, Kull or their own stories.

This is basically a reference book that is organized and reads like an encyclopedia. Because of that, it’s really valuable if you like specific characters and want to know more about them and where they appear.

It still reads well if you delve into it from cover to cover and in doing that, it introduced me to a lot of characters that I hadn’t yet known about.

The only thing that I think could improve it would be to also include information about their comic book counterparts as many of these characters have found life alongside Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane since Marvel started publishing those characters in the ’70s.

For those of you that have a sword and sorcery section in your personal library, this would be a handy edition to it.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the Barbarian Life books by Roy Thomas.

Comic Review: Queen Sonja, Vol. 1

Published: September 29th, 2010
Written by: Joshua Ortega
Art by: Mel Rubi
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 132 Pages

Review:

Marvel had quite a bit of success with Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja in the ’70s and ’80s. Back then, Conan got to star in a spinoff series that saw him become king. That was appropriately called King Conan. Well, I guess Dynamite Entertainment in 2010 thought that Red Sonja deserved a similar accolade, as they debuted Queen Sonja, a series that ran for quite awhile.

I’ve never picked up any of these but being a longtime Red Sonja reader, I thought I’d give the series a shot.

Overall, I enjoyed this for the most part.

The story, here, is mostly about how Sonja conquered an evil dictatorship of slavers and freed a kingdom. With that, she is appointed their queen and sets forth to protect them from whatever challenges may arise in the future. That obviously leads to series into a lot of potentially cool scenarios for the future.

I thought the story was better than decent but not great. It’s entertaining with a lot of action but it felt kind of simple. Not that that’s a bad thing but it could’ve used a bit more narrative flourish.

My only real hiccup about this though was the art. It’s fairly competent but it’s not particularly good and it’s kind of inconsistent in parts. But I think that the real distraction came more from the colors, which just felt like simple and quick airbrushing. The interiors are nowhere near as good as the superb cover.

Still, that’s not enough to make me walk away and I’d like to see this series turn into something solid. So I am going to at least read the second volume in the near future.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other older Red Sonja comics from Dynamite.