Overview

Red Sonja: Monster Isle (ADVANCE)

Review

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Red Sonja: Monster Isle (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Roy Thomas
  • Art: Pablo Marcos
  • Inks: N/A
  • Colors: Caesar Rodriguez, Bruno Hang, Vinicius Andrade, Carlos Lopez
  • Story Title: Monster Isle
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $4.99
  • Release Date: Sep 27, 2006

A shipwrecked She-Devil battles mutated monster-men as Roy Thomas returns to the character he helped create.

Caught in a storm at sea, the Red One washes ashore on an island of terrifying creatures with only a few disreputable pirates as allies. Many horrors await them in the form of misshapen prisoners and a mad sorcerer-warden who serves a disturbingly familiar master. Can Sonja conquer or tame these monsters before she becomes their latest victim—or worse, their newest mate?

Red Sonja’s co-creator, Roy Thomas, once again scripts his sword-wielding creation in another of Dynamite’s Sonja spin-offs. Though essentially doing a riff on The Island of Dr. Moreau (a theme he seems to enjoy, based on some of his previous work), Thomas delivers a solid, entertaining story that is at turns fun and appropriately horrific. Derivative though it may be, Monster Isle is engaging and action-packed with healthy doses of both comedy and tragedy. For fans of sword and sorcery, what more could you ask for than warrior women, dark sorcery, and monsters?

My one concern with the issue is a surprising lapse in characterization. It is strange that Sonja (herself a victim of rape and violence) would not so much as attempt to rescue the poor women captured as breeding stock for the beast-men. This detail seems to have been overlooked in the scripting of an otherwise excellent one-shot, unusual given that it comes from the pen of the man who created the heroine. Aside from this detail, Thomas’ return is a fine addition to the Sonja canon.

Though the story for the most part fires on all cylinders, the art on Monster Isle is troublingly uneven. Through much of the book, Pablo Marcos’ pencil work is pleasing high fantasy illustration. His monster-men truly give the impression of hybrid creatures whose component parts are trying hard to reject each other and his panel layouts and action sequences are effective. The problem seems to lie in the inclusion of four colorists with widely varying styles. At times, the issue employs the usual hard-inked comic book approach, at others, the soft focus colors-on-raw-pencils fantasy feel. The dramatic changes back and forth are a little distracting and detract a bit from the discerning comics fan’s enjoyment.

Though not perfect, Monster Isle is an enjoyable Sonja adventure and the return of the character’s spiritual "father" is sure to be a momentous occasion for longtime fans of the heroine.

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