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Crom Save the Queen

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If it’s good enough for Conan, it’s good enough for Red Sonja, as another one of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian age characters ascends to the throne. This week, we cover Queen Sonja.

You can make the argument that Red Sonja is more a Roy Thomas creation than a Robert E. Howard creation. Yes, Thomas was inspired by a character in the Howard Conan short story “The Shadow of the Vulture” named Red Sonya, but that character was a one-off, low-key supporting character. It was Thomas who embellished on the character in the Conan comic book, bringing her more to the forefront, and creating a personality that caught the fancy of fans.

Her origin, as it appeared in the pages of Kull and the Barbarians #3, was that when she was 17, a group of mercenaries attacked her home town, killed her parents and all other residents, and horribly raped her. Praying for vengeance, she was visited by a goddess by the name of Scathach, who bestowed upon her unparalleled sword fighting skills which were hers as long as she agreed not to “lie down with any man who could not defeat her in fair combat.” She then went about her pursuit of vengeance, becoming a mercenary along the way.

Another thing that brought fans in, mostly male, was her costume. Designed by Esteban Maroto, it is the classic chainmail bikini which showed a lot of skin and it kept on getting  smaller and smaller as time went on. The costume in tomorrow’s Queen Sonja is the approximate size of a postage stamp and its top is only big enough to keep her naughty bits covered.

This raises an interesting point about the character as to her possible role as an empowered female role model. She is shown as being more than a match for any man, both in fighting skills and intellect. But the whole fact that she is a rape survivor who can only find love with a man who physically overpowers her in combat is a bit unsettling. Add to that the good girl art costume and you have a concept that many women might not be all that comfortable with.

Regardless, the character has remained popular for over 28 years, has been adapted into a major motion picture, and, in an interesting bit of trivia, has been portrayed by Elfquest co-creator Wendy Pini at a number of conventions in the 1970s.

The character has found a home at Dynamite Entertainment for the last four years. This isn’t your father’s Red Sonja. The violence has gotten more violent and the sexiness has gotten even sexier.

In tomorrow’s Queen Sonja #1, you will find the character slicing a bad guy’s face off—literally, and taking a dip in a stream wearing less clothing than you’d find on the typical Maxim model. In other words, no matter what your opinion is on Red Sonja being a strong female character, this series is not one to be giving to your daughter.


The story begins with Sonja already on the throne, and flashes back to tell the events that brought her there. It involves her being hired to retrieve some stolen items, including a legendary sword, for a widowed land owner. She soon finds out that things are not what they seem.

Red Sonja has carved out a legacy for herself in comics, and that legacy continues to grow. Conan eventually became king during his time in comics, it is only fitting that Sonja gets to wear a crown, too. 

Also out this week:

X-Factor #50:

You really can’t blame fans for thinking that this might be the last issue of X-Factor. The sales haven’t been cancellation bad, but weren’t that good either. The solicitation for this issue sounds like one big wrapping up issue. And Marvel has been known to end series’ on anniversary issues before.

Well, this is the end of X-Factor—as we know it. It will be taking a month off and be back with issue #200, another anniversary issue in line with the original series numbering. The focus of the book will be less involved with the X-books and involve more of the Marvel universe. This will be an end of an era, but a new one will be following right after.

Peter David (W), Valentine De Landro (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

World's Finest #1:

For decades, the world’s finest duo has always been Superman and Batman. Well, nowadays, neither man is around. So what is there to do when an issue arises that is best suited for the World’s Finest team? You bring in the next generation in the form of the original pair’s adopted sons.

A threat to the Man of Steel captures the attention of Bruce Wayne’s adopted son, Tim Drake a.k.a. Red Robin. Considering the target, it’s only natural that Clark Kent’s adopted son, Chris, a.k.a. Nightwing, jumps in to lend a hand. It’s a World’s Finest team for the next century! But will they be enough to get the job done?

Sterling Gates (W), Julian Lopez (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Jennifer Love Hewitt's Music Box #1:

Andy Warhol once had a saying that “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” If he was still alive today and at all interested in comics, that saying would turn to “everyone famous will have a comic for at least four issues.” Jennifer Love Hewitt is the latest celebrity to join the fray. But there’s something about her series that sets it apart from the rest.

Unlike other celebs, the Ghost Whisperer star appears to have an active hand in co-writing this new horror anthology. The series concerns a haunted music box and the people whose lives it affects. First up is a forensic scientist who wishes that he could stop crimes before they happen. He gets what he wished for—and more than he could possibly imagine.

Jennifer Love Hewitt & Scott Lobdell (W), Michael Gaydos (A), IDW Publishing, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

FVZA #1:

With concepts as popular as vampires and zombies, it is hard to keep them fresh. Combining the two into one work is one way to do it, but a lot of other people have had that idea already.

However, creating a fictional government agency that is dedicated to fighting the problem in America is a fresh look at the genre. And that is what the website FVZA.org has done. It is a viral website proposing to be about the defunct Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency and treats the problem as if it were a real-world issue.

The website has served as inspiration for this series from Radical. In it, a zombie outbreak occurs that is resistant to any cure. The FVZA, long dormant due to the cure, needs to make a comeback. And in the forefront is Landra Pecos, a woman with ties to the old organization who will soon find her life changed forever.

David Hine (W), Roy Allan Martinez (A), Radical Comics, $4.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Invincible Presents Atom Eve & Rex Splode #1:

The sign of any successful comic franchise is the number of interesting members the concept’s supporting cast has. Robert Kirkman’s Invincible is definitely one of Image’s biggest successes due to the fact that Kirkman has created a number of interesting supporting characters, many whom could support more than one miniseries.

This series is a sequel to the first Atom Eve miniseries and tells the tale of the heroine’s relationship with the late Rex Splode. How did they meet? What secret do they share? And why was Rex so ready to sacrifice himself in the Invincible War? You’ll find out answers to all these questions, and perhaps one or two more, in this miniseries.

Benito Cereno (W), Nate Bellegarde (A), Image Comics, $2.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Groo: Hogs of Horder #1:

The last Groo miniseries, Hell on Earth, featured the typical Groo slapstick humor, corny puns, and laugh-out-loud funny jokes melded to a very important topic—global warming. Now everyone’s favorite “slow-of-mind” barbarian is back. But is their a message this time around or is it back to your typical, message-free hilarity?

The story involves Groo coming in contact with a group ten times more destructive than he is—a group called the Hogs of Horder. These Hogs control your mind, body and money. They are a fearsome group they are. But they are now facing their greatest challenge—a man with a slow mind, a doughy body and never much money. Who will win when these two titans tussle? Read the series and find out! 

Mark Evanier (W), Sergio Aragonés (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.99.Four-Issue Miniseries.

Arkham Reborn #1:

I’ve seen a number of comic book heroes “reborn” in my day, but never a building. But apparently, the Gotham City loony bin is getting an in-continuity makeover in the wake of Battle for the Cowl. The one capital improvement I would suggest? Install a better security system to try and cut back on all those nasty escapes.

But I doubt that is in the plans. The new Arkham Asylum is rebuilt according to an old plan designed by Amadeus Arkham. But Arkham’s design was not intended for a home of healing but rather a house of horrors. Amadeus’ nephew Jeremiah is in charge of the new Arkham but Amadeus might be still running the show—from the grave!

David Hine (W), Jeremy Haun (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

X-Force/New Mutants: Necrosha:

X-Force has just gotten done with a massive crossover with Cable, but, as the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked. The team is entering yet another crossover, this time with the revamped New Mutants. And the story is bringing back one of the classic X-villains from the 80s—Selene, the Black Queen.

Dead mutants are on the rise and after our favorite teams. What is the cause of these resurrections? Selene, who’s back and is on the hunt for souls. No mutant is safe and the odds are stacked against them. It looks like a pretty black night for the X-men, X-Force, and the New Mutants as Selene is about to start a very different dark reign. 

Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Zeb Wells, and Mike Carey (W), Clayton Crain (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Oct 27, 2009 at 6:12pm

    Crom Save the Queen! Ha! That might be my favorite title for an article ever! Minor but important point-- the original Robert E. Howard Red Sonya was not from a Conan story. She was a Renaissance-era sword and pistol wielding heroine. Roy Thomas adapted "Shadow of the Vulture" into a Conan story.

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