Story: Gail Simone & Jim Zub
Art: Dan Panosian
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
What They Say:
In a story spanning multiple eras in the lives of these classic characters, Conan and Red Sonja become comrades to take down a sorcerer-priest hell bent on creating a dark new age in Hyborian warfare!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s a tale as old as time: boy meets girl, they steal a fabulous treasure (killing a prince for good measure), they sword fight over the treasure, and they earn the ire of both a king and a wizard. Sure, we’ve seen it before, but have we seen it with Conan and Red Sonja? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean that this latest reimagining of their first teamup isn’t a whole lot of fun.
In Koth, Sonja attracts the interest of Kalayah, the Beast Lord (in a nice callback to her own series). She uses him to make her way into the palace of a prince who holds a fabulous treasure that she was hired to retrieve. Meanwhile, Conan, the Cimmerian barbarian, makes a somewhat more direct incursion into the palace, also to retrieve the treasure. The two band together out of necessity and later fight over who gets the treasure. However, what they find inside isn’t jewels or riches, but something else entirely that could mean doom for all in Hyperboria.
And that’s about it for the plot without spoiling anything. The story is simple and straightforward (as are all the best Conan and Sonja stories) and mostly reads as setup for the rest of the miniseries. Simone and Zub have good handles on the characters, although Sonja doesn’t quite speak the same way as she does in her own title. Her dialogue isn’t quite as humorous and she’s not quite as snarky. However, this is supposed to be a young Sonja and Conan, so it could be that she hasn’t quite come into her own just yet.
Conan, for his part, sounds just fine, but he looks a little too pretty and clean for my tastes. His hair’s too tidy and his face too free of scars. Again, this could just be because he’s so young, and he looks more like himself at the end when his hair is no longer pulled back, but he just looked off for most of the issue.
There is, however, a roughness to Panosian’s art that I quite like. There are times when his style reminds me a bit of early Frank Miller and Klaus Janson or John Romita Jr.—a certain heaviness to the lines and a flair for staging. His style is a good fit for the rough, barbaric nature of this story, as is Dave Stewart’s color palette. Stewart chooses a cool, muted tone for the issue, giving Hyperborea an old, lived-in atmosphere and highlighting the harshness of the landscape. His sky, in particular, is quite good, often bathed in watery pastels.
Conan, Red Sonja 1 is a pretty simple, straightforward title with a few minor issues with its two protagonists. It functions more as an introduction, setting the stage for the larger story, but the tale it does tell is fun in a classic Conan/Sonja style and the art and colors are very good. Hopefully this will be the start to a fun, bloody romp through Hyperborea with my two favorite barbarians.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dark Horse
Release Date: January 14th, 2015