My first real exposure to the Red Sonja character was the 1985 movie starring Brigitte Nielsen as the battling barbarian. To those who are late to the party, female-led superhero films and TV shows started long before the current Marvel, DC franchises. Red Sonja, Tank Girl, Barb Wire and even television shows like the Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman and The Secrets of Isis headline a legacy that goes all the way back to the seventies.

The Red Sonja movie and Brigitte Nielsen’s portrayal stayed with me and I began checking out the Marvel comics by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith but lost all interest in the character when Gail Simone made unnecessary changes to her origin, backstory including removing the mystical elements. For me, it was a low point for the character and the series so like a Level 10 Magic-User, I made Red Sonja disappear from my pull list.

With the relaunch of the series by Dynamite Comics last year, Amy Chu has breathed some new life into the “She-Devil with a Sword” making this series truly the best that has ever been produced. Chu has not only injected more of the hard-hitting action the character is known for but there is a lot of razor-sharp humour and a down-to-earth humanity to all the characters.

In Issue #20, Sonja and her friends stumble upon Lord Skath, a legendary adventurer who spent so much time slaying dragons and whatnot that he has neglected his regal duties. A new ruler has kicked Skath, who, because of his absence, has been nicknamed “Unreliable”, to the curb humiliating him. Seeing how Skath’s former subjects are being mistreated, Sonja agrees to help Skath reclaim his kingdom and his throne but first she and her friends must get him back in fighting form as a disheartened Skath has let himself go in more ways than one.

There are some crafty twists and a turn in The Blade of Skath storyline which includes a cliff-hanger ending that has Sonja face-to-face with one of the world’s deadliest predators in what could be a kill or be killed scenario.

Bringing Amy Chu and Erik Burnham’s words to life, Carlos Gomez and Vincenzo Federici’s art is as fierce, bold and sexy and as Red Sonja herself is. There are times when you do notice a difference in the art style but it is not disjointed or disconnected in any way. If you can, grab the edition with Babs Tarr’s killer cover though (pictured above).

Come on, someone give Babs a flagship, ongoing series.

This is another issue in Amy Chu’s Red Sonja run that is intense, amusing and at times even a bit thoughtful. If there is another Red Sonja film on the horizon – with Emily Beecham, ‘The Widow’ in Into the Badlands, as Sonja, perhaps? – Chu’s take on the character, her tales of swords and sorcery would be the perfect source material for a momentus cinematic return of the “She-Devil with a Sword”.

Furious, sexy art.
Some hearty chuckles here and there.
The differences in art work.

Review Summary

If Conan, Kull, Dungeons and Dragons, The Warlord and Elfquest are your thing, so is this. In fact, why aren’t you collecting Red Sonja already, by Crom? Stars and stones. Sigh.

One thought on “Red Sonja #20 Review”

  1. Great review. I’m completely with you … I saw what Gail was trying to achieve with Sonja but she changed too much and her Sonja was practically a different character as a result – just a female version of Conan with all the whoring and drinking and rage. Amy’s version is so much cooler and much closer to the Marvel and earlier Dynamite versions, although she’s been careful not to go into the She-Devil’s origin. However, her Sonja does believe in Scathach, so the mystical aspect is back to an extent, plus she’s ten times the warrior that Gail’s Sonja is. I actually wasn’t crazy about #20, I thought there was too much time taken up with Skath’s backstory. #21 is really good, though. I hope you review it soon.

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