Red Sonja:
She-Devil with a Sword

by Michael Avon Oeming,
Mike Carey, Mel Rubi
(Dynamite, 2006)

Born in the same forge that spawned Conan, Robert E. Howard's flame-tressed heroine Red Sonja has found new life with Dynamite Entertainment.

She-Devil with a Sword is the first collection of the new graphic series, and frankly it puts the old Marvel Comics series to shame. Written by Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Carey, this Sonja is perhaps grimmer than she has been in the past but, given her backstory, a certain cynical outlook on life is to be expected. This story finds her wandering into a barren land surrounding a so-called perfect city; her intervention in an uneven fight brings her to the attention of those who want to strengthen the city through blood sacrifice to its god, as well as those who hope to wrest control of the city out of the hands of its oppressive leadership.

There is plenty of blood and swordplay, as must be expected in a Sonja tale. And there is beautiful art by Mel Rubi -- expressive, kinetic and lush -- that brings a new level of polish to the Sonja legend. Finely drawn, with strong lines and sharp edges, the book is a pleasure to see as well as read.

Red Sonja, precursor to the likes of Xena, is a strong female role model in a high-fantasy genre usually dominated by men. (For male readers, there's her traditional chainlink bikini.) All in all, it's a fine rebirth for the original warrior princess.

by Tom Knapp
9 December 2006

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