Friday, July 29, 2022

Comics Review: "SAMURAI SONJA #2" Gives the Monkey the Business


STORY: Jordan Clark
ART: Miriana Puglia
COLORS: Kike J. Diaz
LETTERS: Jeff Eckleberry
EDITOR: Nate Cosby
COVER: Clayton Henry
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (July 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.

Dynamite Entertainment is now the publisher of Red Sonja comic books, and it publishes a number of titles featuring alternate versions of the character.  The latest is Samurai Sonja, Volume 1.  It is written by Jordan Clark; drawn by Pasquale Qualano and Miriana Puglia; colored by Kike J. Diaz; and lettered by Jeff Eckleberry.  This series is set in feudal Japan and introduces a brand new Sonja, a samurai serving a sea goddess in order to slay an oni shogun – with her life and family name on the line.

Samurai Sonja, Volume 1 #2 opens in the Sengoku period of Japan.  Sonja has made her awful deal with a dreaded sea goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, agreeing to become her champion.  Gifted with magical armor and weapons capable of slaying mythical beasts, Sonja must take on the demon shogun, Shuten Doji.  If she falls in battle, her bloodline and family's name will be erased.

Now, Sonja travels to the stronghold of Shuten Doji.  The first obstacle she faces is a deadly Satori creature.  It is an imposing, ape-like creature that is in fact a crafty genius able to play upon people's insecurities and fears.  Can Sonja teach herself the methods that she will need if she is to slay this clever yokai monster?

THE LOWDOWN:   Since July 2021, the marketing department of Dynamite Entertainment has been providing me with PDF review copies of some of their titles.  One of them is Samurai Sonja, Volume 1 #2, one of many Red Sonja-related comic books that I have read.

I am really enjoying Samurai Sonja.  What a beautiful comic book that Jordan Clark is writing.  The first two issues are each like self-contained short stories that are connected to the larger narrative.  I could go for another issue, right now.  Why?  The answer is because Clark transports me into a world that is obviously fiction, but he makes me feel something.

Artist Miriana Puglia tells Clark's story with such simplicity.  The illustrations are beautiful, but taken together as storytelling, they pack power but also offer a philosophical side that gives this story weight and depth.  Puglia draws stories of consequence and colorist Kike J. Diaz ravishes them in hues that give the story a sense of magic.

Jeff Eckleberry's letters are like a gentle brook, whispering the sweetness and dark magics of this story.  What excellent work from this creative team.  Samurai Sonja is another Red Sonja comic book winner.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Red Sonja will want to read Samurai Sonja, Volume 1.


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

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