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  • Words: Michael Avon Oeming
  • Art: Mel Rubi
  • Inks: Mel Rubi
  • Colors: Brian Buccellato
  • Story Title: ArrowSmith
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $2.99

Sonja’s war with the dark god threatening her people leads her to a ravaged village and memories of her own past.

Since her battle with the Celestial, Red Sonja has declared a one-woman war against the Borat-Na Fori, a god whose murderous cult slaughters innocents in the name of fascistic "peace." After dispatching two of his priests, the Red One travels to the village of Arrowhead. Sonja remembers many a visit to this peaceful town in her youth. As she tries to help its persecuted people, she thinks back to her childhood in Hyrkania and an event which shaped the direction of her life.

When this series began, many (myself included) were dubious, fearing it to be merely a wannabe Conan relying on eye candy and sex appeal. Yet the talent of co-writers Michael Oeming and Mike Carey merited at least a look. Since then, I’ve become a convert, thoroughly enjoying the adventure and fantasy and yes, the appeal of the lead character. I do wish the poor girl would put some clothes on sometimes but in the series’ defense, it’s not as if Conan wears very much either.

This issue, Oeming takes the helm alone and gives us more indication of the series’ ongoing direction. The conflict with the Borat-Na Fori cult brings many themes important to Sonja to the forefront—the toll of war, the struggle for gender equality, and the savage justice of the blade. This story also introduces some much-needed backstory for Sonja, something we’ve only gotten in brief references before now. The flashback sequences of her tomboyish beginnings add a little depth to the character and show the first of several traumas that influenced the warrior’s path. Oeming also did a nice job conveying some of the Hyrkanian culture and belief system, making the land of Sonja’s origins more fully formed in our minds.

Artist Mel Rubi continues to impress every month as well. His work combines the perfect blend of the lush and beautiful with the brutal and barbaric. His rendition of Sonja as a child has an appealing innocence and enthusiasm (almost disturbingly so when she is gutting a deer with wide-eyed wonder). And as an adult, his Sonja is a wonderful contrast of soft curves and hard, unyielding anger. Colorist Brian Buccellato is also turning in lovely work with his lustrous hues and textures and employs an effective faded, dreamlike quality in the flashbacks.

If one looks beyond the somewhat ludicrous chain mail bikini (no, not like that, you perverts!), Red Sonja is a well-crafted and entertaining fantasy comic.

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