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Sonjaversal #1 Review

4 min read
I'm definitely in for what this can be and can do as the back half sets things up in an interesting way.

A new threat to Red Sonja arises.

Creative Staff:
Story: Christopher Hastings
Art: Pasquale Qualano, Jordi Perez
Colors: Kike J. Diaz
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

What They Say:

An evil god punishes Sonja’s across dimensions. What’s the punishment? SONJA’S MUST KILL OTHER SONJA’S. The battle for SONJA SUPREMACY BEGINS IN THE EVENT OF 2021, by CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS (Gwenpool) and PASQUALE QUALANO (DIE!NAMITE)!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With a lot of really fun red Sonja books involved in crossovers over the last few years, Sonjaversal feels like it’s expected since we even saw something like it done with the Betty & Veronica crossover. Christopher Hastings gets to pen the tale of a universe in which there are many Sonja’s across time and space and that allows for some real creativity that I hope future issues expand on. Pasqual Qualano has been a favorite Dynamite artist of mine for a while with his work on multiple projects and he’s working with Jordi Perez on this book which definitely has a very different look to it, at least in the opening half. It’s a solid book with some really vibrant moments thanks to Kike Diaz’s color design, again mostly for the outlandish opening pages.

The premise is one that works nicely in that some version of Sonja that’s all done up in strange armor is drawing from other Sonja’s throughout the timeline to go after the original Red Sonja in the distant past and kill her. Red Sonja has faced off a lot of them and is just getting tired of the whole thing, quite frankly. And understandably so as it must be weird to keep killing unusual versions of yourself. But we don’t get to that point until the end, but it is the main point I think and the central piece that actually works in the book. Hastings delivers some good stuff once it goes back to this period with Red Sonja and friends celebrating the death of a friend who has passed alongside other victories and it sidebars nicely into her dealing with a warrior that wants to bed her, reminding us of the rules related to the curse she suffers under for the strength she has.

The opening half of the book is confusing, but that’s to be partially expected. It introduces us to humanity out in the stars on some distant world where there’s a fight between a giant mecha and a giant dinosaur where the mecha is piloted by Purple Sonja. It’s here that we meet Orange Sonja who is trying to understand what’s going on and is eventually drawn into going back into the past to deal with Red Sonja. But there are so many things going on at the start here in a confusing way as there isn’t a solid introductory point to really cement your focus that it’s not that you get confused but rather that it just doesn’t flow. It’s clunky. I’m amused at the ideas with it that could be fleshed out – Sonja, Dinosaur Hunter or somesuch – and the whole futuristic mecha aspect gives us some ideas. Sonja across time and space with different incarnations is shown here but it’s not coherent until it gets to the back half and moves past the truly futuristic stuff.

In Summary:
Sonjaversal has a lot of potential. The character is one that could easily be done in a Grendel-ish kind of way with new incarnations to explore and her spirit living on for the times needed. And I like the concept of a lot of them being plucked out of their place in order to go back and seemingly try to kill the original. Hastings has a good idea here that suffers from a complicated opening that doesn’t flow well until it gets to the halfway mark or so and shifts back to Red Sonja herself. Qualano and Perez put in a good looking book with the back half being stronger in my opinion but the first half left me unsteady with the script and not enjoying the artwork as much because of it. I’m definitely in for what this can be and can do as the back half sets things up in an interesting way.

Grade: B

Age Rating: 15+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: February 3rd, 2021
MSRP: $3.99

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