Spider-Man/Red Sonja
by Michael Avon Oeming, Mel Rubi (Marvel/Dynamite, 2008)

In ancient times of lore, when giants and legends strode across the Earth, Red Sonja was a franchise of Marvel Comics.

But frankly, the Sonja books were a little silly. Sure, the red-haired barbarian in a chainmail bikini was a whole lot prettier than her bulkier counterpart Conan, but the stilted dialogue and outrageous plots made the book an unintentional spoof of itself. But Marvel, which never met a crossover opportunity it didn't like, decided to bring Sonja forward to modern New York City, where she'd possess the nubile body of Peter Parker's girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, to battle a vile sorceror from her own time.

Well, these days Red Sonja is enjoying a well-earned revival over at Dynamite Entertainment. And, with both Spider-Man and Red Sonja in good hands, Marvel and Dynamite decided it was time for a crossover once more.

The whole thing is still pretty silly. But now, writer Michael Avon Oeming is doing it entirely on purpose, a tongue-in-cheek adventure that brings not only Sonja and her nemesis, the sorceror Kulan Gath, to modern Manhattan, but also a gaggle of fantasy creatures, hapless villagers and period architecture. Everyone but Spidey undergoes an accompanying attitude adjustment, whereby all this seems perfectly normal and everyone knows how to wield a sword. J. Jonah Jameson, full-time Spider-Man detractor and publisher of New York's Daily Bugle, even becomes something of a freedom fighter against the forces of evil.

Fantasy fiends will of course love this. And anyone who likes Spider-Man at his silliest will enjoy it, too. The writing takes us on a pleasant, fun-filled romp through the transformed city, and the artwork by Mel Rubi is an eye-candy treat. (I should note that Oeming and Rubi are regulars over at Dynamite, so they're well-versed in all things Sonja.) Rubi certainly has a lot of fun with Sonja's possession of MJ's body here, and anyone with a thing for Mary Jane will see more of her than ever before. They just don't make those chainmail bikinis as form-fitting as they used to....

If that's not enough, the original Marvel crossover by John Byrne and Chris Claremont has been unearthed from Marvel's dusty old archives and is included in the back in all its campy glory.

Of course, now that Marvel has decided to excise Mary Jane from Spider-Man's life, we can assume such crossovers are forever a thing of the past.

review by
Tom Knapp

26 April 2008

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new