Archive for Red Sonja

Hello, Kitty


Hellboy in Hell #8

Hellboy must be cured of the condition that’s causing him to waste away, and he needs to contend with the giant monster version of Dr. Coppelius, who wants to kill Dr. Hoffman — the only man who can cure Hellboy. Hoffman manages to trap Coppelius in the body of a dead cat — but at that point, you’ve got a giant vengeful dead cat, which isn’t much of an improvement. Once Coppelius is vanquished, Hoffman is able to reveal that the Furies themselves are after Hellboy, claiming that he spilled his family’s blood. But it turns out he’s innocent — his demonic half-sister is to blame. Who gets punished now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very fun story with Mike Mignola’s always great art. Loved the depiction of the Furies — a trio of monstrous buzzing green flies.


Red Sonja #18

The mad empress still wants the librarians’ spire burned down, and Sonja has committed herself to protecting them. While they wait, the librarian-priestesses read her stories from their books. In time, Sonja learns that the Empress has sent her Vipers — three vastly skilled and terribly cruel assassins. She’s heard of all three — she figures she might be able to take down two of them, but not all three. So what’s to be done? Will evil finally prevail?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A brutal and action-packed story — and a reminder that while Sonja is a devil of a warrior, she also has more brains and heart than anyone ever gives her credit for. This may be Gail Simone’s final story in this series, but I hope whoever takes over keeps up the high quality tales.


Nameless #5

Against the backdrop of a high-tech seance held in a gloriously eerie haunted house, we learn more (or do we?) about the monstrous and infinite power of Xibalba, and about the horrible past and present of the man called Nameless. Who are Nameless’s enemies? Who are his allies? What hope can there be when God is an impossibly sadistic alien serial killer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Half the time, I didn’t even know what was going on — but I still loved every minute. It’s creepy, gory, quiet, apocalyptic horror, and the series is still worth reading and enjoying.

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Better Red than Dead


Daredevil #17

The Kingpin has double-crossed Matt Murdock pretty hard. He’s had Ikari, the assassin with all of Daredevil’s fighting skills and enhanced senses — plus the ability to see — to kidnap Foggy Nelson and Kirsten McDuffie. He wants Matt to fight Ikari — and if Matt wins, he’s going to kill either Foggy or Kirsten. Can Matt devise a plan to save both his friends? And can that plan survive when the always-meddling Shroud decides he wants to help?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art, great story and cliffhanger. Great to see Ikari and the Kingpin here up to their old rotten tricks.


Red Sonja #17

Sonja is hired by a group of nuns to protect their citadel, a gigantic library that the local empress wants destroyed, mostly for the sake of evil. But there’s a problem — Sonja never learned to read, doesn’t value books, and is unwilling to risk her neck just for a bunch of paper. But she later has a change of heart and returns in time to run off the soldiers of the empire — but not before they inflict a possibly fatal wound on the nuns’ leader and attracts the wrath of the corrupt empress herself.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’d been worried that Gail Simone was off this comic, but yay, she’s still writing it! Characterization and humor are still strong points of this series, along with the ridiculous depravity of the villains.


Lazarus #18

Forever Carlyle, the genetically engineered Lazarus of the Family Carlyle, is leading a small strikeforce into the disputed territory between the Families Carlyle and Hock in Duluth. Meanwhile, plenty of inter-family politicking and squabbling is going on back home as the siblings try to get their father healed — or decide who will lead the family next. And the campaign in Duluth is going fairly well — except for one fairly severe security slip-up…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Quite a cliffhanger at the end there!

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Death and the Devil


Red Sonja #16

Sonja has died — or almost so — and meets Death herself, who looks a lot like Sonja, actually. Death wants her on her honor guard, but Sonja has never been one to serve anyone, and she’d much rather try her luck at killing Death herself. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the townspeople are tending to Sonja, trying to figure out a way to cure her, when she gets unexpected visitors — the great artisans she’d collected in a previous storyarc: Gribaldi the chef, Aneva the courtesan, Rat the beast-tamer, Osric the swordsman, Plaitius the soothsayer, and Rakaua the dancer. And then more visitors: from the very first storyarc in Gail Simone’s run on this title, Ayla, Nias, and Dark Annisia, resurrected with the aid of an alchemist’s potion. Can Sonja defeat Death? Can Sonja be brought back from the brink of death?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This may be Simone’s final issue on this series — it’s certainly written like a final issue. If it’s not the last one, Simone is leaving herself a big hurdle to top this one. It’s hard to get much more epic than a duel with Death and a reunion with all your friends. Great story, great art — more evidence that this has been a thoroughly glorious fantasy series.


The Sandman: Overture #5

The mad sun has thrown Morpheus into a black hole — where not even he may be able to escape. He gets a brief respite when his mother pulls him out for a chat, but while he wants to save the universe, she only wants to manipulate him into staying with her forever — and when he refuses, she drops him back into the black hole. But then he’s re-rescued by Destiny, who’s frustrated that there’s a ship in the middle of his garden — and it’s clearly been built by Dream, even though Dream has no memory of creating it. And the cat version of Dream has been keeping busy by traveling to the worlds being destroyed by the mad stars and rescuing people.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not a lot of it makes sense yet — hopefully, that will come in the final issue — but the story is told with a great deal of style with a lot of gorgeous art by J.H. Williams III.


All-New Hawkeye #3

Kate Bishop and Clint Barton are aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier waiting to find out what the spy agency is going to do with the mutant kids they rescued from A.I.M. Maria Hill strongly hints to them that they should do something to extract the kids from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s care before they’re used as weapons. After a few pages of whuppin’ and a ride out of the helicarrier on a flying car, they get the kids home — but how long will they be allowed to keep mutant super-psychic kids?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and a nice story. A nice storytelling gimmick, too, with the pastel watercolor story of young Clint and Barney’s trip to the circus told along the bottom of each page.

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The House of Pain


The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time #2

Even for a comic that tends to produce uncommonly interesting stories, this issue probably tops the list. The Goon has learned that a rival mobster has sent a couple mooks to kill him, so he heads for the local bus station so he’ll be there to wipe ’em out. But he’s got a few hours to kill, so he buys a paperback copy of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells to read while he waits. And most of the rest of this issue is Eric Powell’s comic adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel. So is the Goon more animal than man now? Will he have the chance to walk back to his own humanity?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an amazingly cool storytelling choice, and I get the impression that Powell has always wanted to adapt “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” You should go pick it up for that reason alone.


Red Sonja #15

Sonja has returned to the village where she was cursed to never be able to forgive anyone, and she’s figured out a unique method to make sure her supernatural vengefulness doesn’t harm anyone — she’s mutilated her hands into bloody, shattered wrecks so that she can no longer hold a sword. Unfortunately, just as she finally breaks the curse, the wizard who’s been stalking her finally catches up to her. Is there any way for her to stop the sorcerer and his horde of monstrous snakes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful artwork and beautiful storytelling. The action and tension are excellent, too. It’s the next to the last issue of Gail Simone’s epic run on this series, and I’m dying to find out how she’s going to end it.

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Going Beyond


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #5

First things first: Ladies and gentlemen, that is just about the worst comic book cover I’ve seen this year. Maybe all of last year, too. It’s a terrible, muddy, over-chaotic muddle with a style entirely different from the art between the covers.

Now that that’s out of the way — forget the cover. What we’ve got inside is a just plain wonderful comic book. Or rather, what we’ve got inside is a pretty typical comic — until the last page happens.

While Monica Rambeau experiments with her light powers by adopting the form of the Blue Marvel — in the altogether, as they say in the hipster circles — Dr. Positron, the Marvel’s mad scientist son, shows up for a short brawl with the Marvel, Monica, and Spider-Man before revealing that he’s found his brother in the Neutral Zone, but he’ll need help to get him out. Elsewhere, Power Man and White Tiger go hunting for whoever killed Gideon Mace and run into way more trouble than they can handle. And Luke Cage and Jessica Jones have a meeting with Jason Quantrell, sinister CEO of Cortex Incorporated — and we learn who’s really behind Quantrell’s diabolic grin.

Verdict: Thumbs up. No spoilers, folks, but no kidding, when I read the last page of this one, I sat there in Flabbergasted Jawdrop Mode for at least 30 seconds. I don’t know if they can follow up with the promise of that last page, but I’m really looking forward to the next issue now.


Red Sonja #100

Well, it’s not really the 100th issue of this series, but they figure they’ve got the 100th issue to feature Sonja. Sounds iffy to me, but it makes a decent anthology comic. We’ve got creators ranging from Gail Simone to Roy Thomas to Michael Avon Oeming and many more. We get Sonja facing off against spider demons and mutated Rapunzels, we get Sonja taking on an unexpected assistant in a battle against a monster, and we get Sonja meeting one of her own heroes and earning a few wishes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An incredible variety of stories offered here — some classic hack-and-slash battles, some more introspective stories, and all of them excellent reads. It’s especially wonderful to see a story by Roy Thomas, Sonja’s creator.


Batgirl #39

All of a sudden, everyone in Burnside is after Batgirl — whoever’s running the Hooq app is offering $20 million for her capture, dead or alive. And Barbara is being plagued by weird memory troubles, too. She enlists the aid of Black Canary, then realizes that her brain scan is part of Hooq’s programming — is Batgirl trying to kill herself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice art and a much more relateable story. This comic’s emphasis on social media and smartphone apps is making more sense now, and it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.


Silver Surfer #9

Galactus has come to the planet Newhaven, home to the last survivors of millions of worlds destroyed by the Eater of Worlds. Rejected by Dawn, the Surfer heads out to stop Galactus — by surfing the planet’s moon into his face! That gets Galactus’ attention, but he reacts by stripping the Surfer of his cosmic powers, leaving him powerless and adrift in space. Can anyone stop Galactus now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art, as always, from Mike and Laura Allred. Big ups for Dan Slott’s story, too — surfing a whole moon is pretty inspired, even if it’d pretty obviously be something Galactus would shrug off. I’m assuming Norrin will get re-powered next issue — but with this comic, who knows?


Loki: Agent of Asgard #11

Everyone in Asgard is mad at Loki. Loki is very depressed. Old King Future Loki is very mean.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Just a bit too overdone on the woe-is-me stuff.

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In the Mouth of Madness


Loki: Agent of Asgard #10

The God of Lies is in a thoroughly uncomfortable predicament — he’s no longer able to tell any sort of lies. So of course, Thor — or the Odinson, as he prefers to be called, now that he’s no longer worthy to carry Mjolnir — picks this moment to request a visit. And Loki spills the truth he’s been keeping hidden — he’s not really the proper Loki — he’s a spirit-copy of Loki who managed to destroy and devour the old Kid Loki, taking his place and accidentally acquiring his desire for redemption. But Thor is deeply unhappy to hear that his real brother is basically dead, and he delivers a beatdown, then drags Loki back to Asgard to face punishment. Can the trickster talk his way out of this one?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been coming for quite a while, and it’s a credit to the storytelling that it’s as massively painful and traumatic to Loki as it should be.


Red Sonja #14

Sonja has been cursed to never forgive any slight, no matter how insignificant. She’s being stalked by the brother of the wizard she destroyed, and is herself stalking a man named Fellan, who is the last remaining brigand who slaughtered her village in her youth. When she finally finds him, he begs her to forgive him, which, again, isn’t in the cards. She easily destroys his henchmen, but Fellan makes his escape. Realizing that the curse she’s under makes her a danger to everyone she meets, Sonja needs to figure out how to keep herself from becoming a remorseless, soulless slaughterer.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a grimmer story than probably any of the previous storyarcs, but it’s beautifully told and beautifully illustrated — definitely worth checking out.

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Baby, You’re a Star


Captain Marvel #9

Captain Marvel and Tic are traveling through the galaxy when they unexpectedly meet up with mutant teleporting rock superstar Lila Cheney! She reveals a particularly weird problem she has — she’s supposed to marry a prince on a world where everyone rhymes, and she doesn’t really want to get hitched. So Carol and Tic have to figure out a way to keep Lila away from the altar. Can she handle fighting off a jealous suitor? Can she keep this rhyming gig going all the way through? Will there be a surprise wedding after all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun story, fantastic and charismatic art — David Lopez has a very strong talent for great facial expressions — and perfectly servicible rhymes. It’s a fun and funny break, and the sort of thing that’s always enjoyable in a superhero comic.


Red Sonja #13

Sonja tracks down and executes a murderous sorcerer, but not before he hits her with a terrible curse, depriving her of the ability to ever forgive anyone of any slight, no matter how small. That means she ends up unleashing on everyone she comes across — and her newly boundless rage even costs her the opportunity to destroy the only marauder who escaped her vengeance after the destruction of her home village.

Verdict: Thumbs up. New storyarc, but same familiar and wonderful artwork and storytelling we’ve come to expect from this title. Looking forward to what looks like a more personal challenge for the She-Devil with a Sword…


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1

The Falcon is the new Captain America, and he’s preparing to lead the Mighty Avengers. This is good news, right? Well, maybe not. The Falcon was among a number of superheroes and villains affected in the “Axis” crossover — a mystical/psionic event has flipped their psyches around on their axes. Luke Cage is now a very hard-edged and ruthless businessman, while the new Captain America is, well, a fascist, much too eager to use brutal, unforgiving methods against criminals or, in fact, anyone who gets in his way. So he’s not so much going to lead the Mighty Avengers as he is going to try to kill them all…

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. The story is fine, the art is wonderful, the interlude with Spider-Man begging forgiveness for Otto Octavius’ time running around in his body is funny — but I really, really question the wisdom of pulling the high-profile stunt of putting an African-American superhero in the Captain America costume and immediately turning him into not only a supervillain but an enthusiastic fascist. There are just a vast number of unfortunate implications going on right there…

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Queen of Swords


Red Sonja #12

Sonja has finally acquired all the great artisans — Gribaldi the chef, Aneva the courtesan, Rat the beast-tamer, Osric the swordsman, Plaitius the soothsayer, and finally, Rakaua the dancer. Emperor Samala seems pleased — but in fact, he plans to betray them all, kill all the slaves, kill Sonja, and have all the artisans buried with him when he dies. Can Sonja fight off an army? Can Sonja and the artisans fight off an army? Hmmm, maybe not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been a gloriously fun storyarc — one of the best of the year. If you haven’t read it before, you should definitely watch for the collected edition. Don’t let the often-exploitative Dynamite name on the cover throw you off — this is definitely one worth reading.


A Voice in the Dark: Get your Gun #1

Someone knows Zoey is a serial killer — and as it turns out, it’s another serial killer. And he wants to meet her for a chat. His name’s Rio, and he’s a relatively nice guy — not interested in harming Zoey, who he sees as a true kindred spirit — but you know, still a serial killer. They have a nice conversation… about serial murder. And then they go their separate ways. But the cops aren’t the only people looking for the mysterious serial killers…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Larime Taylor’s art is still fantastic, with a bit of a change in appearance as Jay Savage is now working the colors. Besides that, very nice dialogue and a nice trick of making these two nutcases so dang charismatic and loveable.

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Paint the Town Red


Red Sonja #11

Sonja and her compatriots — some of the greatest artisans and warriors in the world — make short work of a bunch of cutthroats and then move on to the next person they’re supposed to recruit — Plaitius, the world’s greatest soothsayer. But he’s being held captive by a tyrannical and prudish theocrat, and he’s decided to have Plaitius executed. If he recants his prophetic powers, even untruthfully, he’ll be released. But he refuses to do so, convinced that it’s better to die than to renounce his gifts. Is there any way Sonja can rescue him from his well-defended prison?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, an excellent story and excellent art, and plenty of excellent action.


Ghosted #12

Jackson Winters has been sprung from jail by the feds, and he’s being put on a new team, including former friend and former skeptic Oliver King, Nina Bloodcrow, and a hardass called Agent Creed. They want him to figure out why there’s been an increase in paranormal activity worldwide. They also want him to track down a street magician named Damian Charon, who’s been seen in the vicinity of several hauntings. Jackson recognizes him — he’s actually his late friend Trick’s estranged son, Danny. And it turns he’s running a profitable business creating his own hauntings.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice establishment of the setup for this new storyarc. It’s clear we’ll have lots of conflict on this one — Jackson hates Oliver, Creed hates Jackson, and Danny Trick clearly hates everyone. More ghosty fun incoming.

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She-Devil with a Sword


Red Sonja #0

Red Sonja is dead! And left behind is her beloved… husband? Red Malak is a tubby loser who insists Sonja was a delicate princess who loved pretty dresses and flowers. Of course, Sonja soon turns up, very much alive, very much not a delicate princess, and has to deal with the lovesick conman who’s slandered her — and the townspeople who think she’ll pay for his debts.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely light-hearted story that still has all the action, mayhem, and general crudity you love in Gail Simone’s Red Sonja stories.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #3

In this latest issue of the anthology series, the seemingly demonic Chocolat must protect her hatchlings in 15th century Italy, while during the Summer of Love in San Francisco, a very young Rev. Ashberry learns of the dangers of temptation.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Pretty well-done storytelling — and nicely themed, too, as we get twin studies on the natures of good hiding within apparent evil, and evil hiding out within the appearance of good.

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