Waiting For The Barbarians: Red Sonja #2 Reviewed

by Olly MacNamee

Red Sonja #2 may well fit into the word and sorcery genre, but that doesn’t mean to say she should adhere to its conventions. Besides which, would you expect her to, with Mark Russell writing her newest sand and sandals saga? It’s a hoot in may places, but it’s not distracting as Russell builds on last issue’s threat of invasion from Emperor Dragan The Magnificent in his ever-hungry quest to expand his empire.
Red Sonja may very well be in charge of her homelands of Hyrkania, but with no money in the coffers (hilariously, when she is presented with the gold key to the treasury vaults, she is shocked to discover that the gold key IS the treasure and only treasure in the whole clapped out kingdom) who would relish the role? The lack of money is not her only domestic problem either! It’s all going a bit south, very quickly.

Still, There’s more than enough battling and blood shed to go around, as well as the return of Red Sonja’s more recognisable garb, but in Mirko Colak’s skilful hands she is, thankfully, far from objectified in any way. His approach to depicting the large array of characters is a very natural, real one, showing humans as exactly that, with no exaggerated body parts whatsoever. If you know what I mean.
What we are left with, then, is a realistically depicted warrior queen which I have learnt recently is based on Queen Tomyris who defeated and killed Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire when he, like Dragan, invaded her lands. Hmmm, does that count as a spoiler? Surely not? I mean, no-one out there amongst our well-read, intelligent readers would think Red Sonja will eventually lose, right?

This historical bit of business is worth noting as I feel it has certainly had an effect on the depiction of Hyrkania and Zamora, which does feel as though it has stepped out of the dusty past of Iran and the Middle East. Such stories will always reside in a land far, far away and a time that never really ever existed but still lives on in our myths, legends and fairy tales. It also helps with creating a somewhat familiar and coherent world in which to explore Red Sonja’s newest adventures. It also gives Colak a certain fixed point in time to allow him to better research and depict the various clothes, weapons and architecture that helps build his particular fantasy world. It’s a good look on Red Sonja too. Colak’s more realistic approach keeps this story from being too far fetched as well. This feels like a very grounded Red Sonja, stripped of any hyperbole to better tell the story and add subtle humour along the way.

It’s a great issue and one that relies on Red Sonja’s intelligence and guile more than her more violent tendencies allowing others to set in on that front on her behalf. This isn’t your average sword and sorcery comic, and it’s all the better and more refreshing because of it. This ain’t your mom and pa’s Red Sonja, that’s for sure.
Red Sonja #2 is out now from Dynamite.

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