Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Comics Review: SONJAVERSAL #6


STORY: Christopher Hastings
ART: Pasquale Qualano
COLORS: Kike J. Diaz
LETTERS: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
EDITOR: Nate Cosby
COVER: Lucio Parrillo
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Joseph Michael Linsner; Jae Lee with June Chung; Jung-Geun Yoon; Lucio Parrillo; Sebastian Fiumara; Savannah Polson (cosplay)
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (July 2021)

Rated Teen+

Based on the characters and stories created by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Robert E. Howard

Conan the Barbarian #23 (cover dated: February 1973) saw the debut of a high fantasy, sword and sorcery heroine, Red Sonja.  Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith, Red Sonja was loosely based on “Red Sonya of Rogatino,” a female character that appeared in the 1934 short story, “The Shadow of the Vulture,” written by Robert E. Howard (1906-1936), the creator of the character, Conan the Cimmerian.

Red Sonja remained a fixture in comic books from then until about 1986.  In 2005, Dynamite Entertainment began publishing comic books featuring differing versions of the character.  One of those is a spin-off title, Sonjaversal, which sees Red Sonja battle other versions of herself from different dimensions.  Sonjaversal is currently written by Christopher Hastings; drawn by Pasquale Qualano; colored by Kike J. Diaz; and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.

Sonjaversal #6 opens in Makkalet City, the stomping grounds of “Noir Sonja” a.k.a. “Sonja Noir.”  While relaxing in a local watering hole, she overhears some surprising news.  A low level street hood, Pickles Zingara, the dumbest mobster in the 'Z' Syndicate, is back in town.  But how could that be?  Sonja killed him.

Complicating things even more, Sonja owes rent money – a lot of rent money – to Mr. Khatt, and she has until the next morning to pay him his rent or pay with her life.  Just when things can't get worse, Sonja receives unwanted visits from a demon who appears to her in reflective surfaces.  So what the heck does “Hell Sonja” want?

THE LOWDOWN:   Dynamite Entertainment's marketing department recently began providing me with PDF review copies of some of their titles.  One of them is Sonjaversal #6, which is the first issue of the title that I have read.  I have seen listings for it, but did not pay attention.

That's a shame because I really enjoyed Sonjaversal #6, with its comic spin on hard-boiled detective fiction.  I never imagined that someone could pull off a film noir/sword and sorcery mix, but writer Christopher Hastings does.  In Sonjaversal #6, the opening chapter of the series' second story arc, Hastings offers enough tasty bits to make me want to come back for more.

The art team of illustrator Pasquale Qualano and colorist Kike J. Diaz is inconsistent; sometimes they are good, and other times the storytelling is confusing.  Still, they get us where Hastings wants us to go.  Luckily, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou offers solid lettering that conveys the story even in the confusing moments of the art.  And Sonjaversal #6 is a nice jumping-on point for new readers.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Red Sonja will want to try Sonjaversal.

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


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