By Davey Nieves
CONAN RED SONJA #1
Story: Gail Simone, Jim Zub
Art: Dan Panosian, Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics & Dynamite
There’s an entire generation of readers who weren’t even born the last time Conan The Barbarian and Red Sonja teamed up for battle in comics or film. Both characters have had a bit of a renaissance as of late with such great books as People of the Black Circle and Dynamite’s own Red Sonja ongoing series. Was it time for the barbarian and the warrior to meet again? Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite think so, and they’ve certainly assembled the best team to do it as they deliver a subtle yet prolific opening to their new 4-part mini series.
What you’ll notice from the outset of the issue is a risk the writing team of superstars Gail Simone (Batgirl, Secret Six) and Jim Zub (Samurai Jack) take by not just immediately dropping Red Sonja and Conan into mega-fight scenes. The opening of this series is really a heist story as the two are unknowingly both hired by an insidious figure known as Manus –Drath to steal a valuable treasure from the royals of Koth. Our conquerors get a bit more than they bargained for as they’re set up to be the only standing between us and Bloodroot covered dead Earth. By the time you reach the first issue’s end the twist feels a little predictable but doesn’t diminish the enjoyment.
Fans who expect a certain level of savagery from characters whose battle skills are almost mythological won’t be disappointed. As with any team-up, readers will get all the slashing and hard-hitting melee you’d expect. Including a fight between the characters that can best be described as sensual. It’s just that the violence feels like a character reward for the story more than just being shoehorned in. More books could do well in following Simone and Zub’s lead in this manner.
A pair of high caliber writers need an artist who can bring the primal nature of these characters out in a way makes them feel anything but simple. Joining Simone and Zub is the urban barbarian himself Dan Panosian (X-Men, Thor). Upon first glance there’s such a unique neanderthal surface to his work in these pages. As you keep reading you’ll notice all the emotion underneath the savagery. Eyes, expression, and body gesture all click together as accents in his panel work. Colorist, Dave Stewart’s work is just as vital in the book. The warm pallet he uses makes the pop stand out in the battle scenes it needs to and unifies the flow of art with story making it one of the smoothest reads of the week if not the year.
This book is awesome! Simone, Zub, and Panosaian put peanut butter and jelly together then served it alongside a big juicy porterhouse steak. Fans of both characters will find plenty to enjoy in this limited series. A big plus for both publishers and retailers is just how inviting the book is for new readers. You need not know anything about the lore of either character or Arnold Schwarzenegger to understand what’s going on here. Conan/ Red Sonja #1 kicks the series off with the right balance of intrigue and good ol’ beat ’em up action.
Follow Davey on Twitter to talk comics, cats, and punk rock as he repost his instagram feed and makes the occasional complaint between naps.