Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Comics Review: HELL SONJA #5


STORY: Christopher Hastings
ART: Andres Labrada
COLORS: Ellie Wright
LETTERS: Jeff Eckleberry
EDITOR: Nate Cosby
COVER: Lucio Parrillo
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Joseph Michael Linsner; Jonathan Lau; Junggeun Yoon; Joseph Michael Linsner; Pasquale Qualano; Lucio Parrillo; Gracie the Cosplay Lass and Jim Donnelly (cosplay)
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (May 2022)

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, Hell Sonja.  The series is written by Christopher Hastings; drawn by Pasquale Qualano and Andres Labrada; colored by Ellie Wright and Kike J. Diaz; and lettered by Jeff Eckleberry.  The series focuses on Hell Sonja, who intercepts the prayers of the desperate and then, sends her team of champions (strike team) to fill Hell's belly with would-be conquerors and those most deserving of its punishment.

Hell Sonja #5 opens as Lord Asmodeus, True King of Hell, returns to Hell.  Now, Hell Sonja faces him, with unsatisfying results.  Shockingly, Asmodeus and Hell Sonja have the same powers to take souls.

The damned prisoners join forces not to escape, but to overthrow Hell Sonja when she is at her weakest, and without allies.  After all, even her strike team of champions:  Red Sonja, Blue Sonja, Moon Sonja, and Gold Sonja are now dead and in the thrall of the True King of Hell.  Is this what Hell Sonja deserves because she tried to take the throne for a kingdom she does not fully understand?  Who will get to feast on the souls in Hell's belly?  And will her champions return?

THE LOWDOWN:   In July 2021, Dynamite Entertainment's marketing department began providing me with PDF review copies of some of their titles.  One of them is Hell Sonja #5, which is one of several Red Sonja-related comic books that I have read.

What can I say.  Hell Sonja #5 offers a tidy ending(?) to the series and offers some details about how the universe works.  Writer Christopher Hastings' and the creative teams gave readers something weird and offbeat.  Might we get more?  I think Hell Sonja has a lot of potential, but will it get a chance to reveal itself?

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

[This comic book includes “Dynamite Dispatch” May 2022, which features an interview with writer Jordan Clark.]


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


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