There’s undoubtedly something noble about Amy Chu’s disconcerting direction with Issue Zero of “Red Sonja”, because this “Dynamite introductory priced” comic book definitely lives up to her aspiration to take the titular character “away and put her in a completely new environment where she’s forced to adapt.” However, the decision to place the barbarian in modern day Manhattan rather than Robert E. Howard’s Hyborean Age smacks more of a “Marvel Comics” “What If?” adventure, than a serious treatment of the “She-Devil with a Sword”, and certainly suggests that despite reading “some Seventies Red Sonja/Conan” publications and watching “the  movie with Brigitte Nielson”, the Harvard Business School graduate has yet to arguably grasp the potential of the swordswoman’s rich native world…
Whatever the American author’s intentions though, her narrative for this sixteen-page periodical undoubtedly starts out very well with Sonja battling a formidably-sized fire-breathing Spawn of Hell “halfway between Hyrkania and Khitai” in “the last remnants of the mighty Kingdom of Meru.” Indeed, for a while “In The Beginning” seems to be a reasonably bog-standard, though still thoroughly exciting, confrontation between the scantily-clad warrior and her multi-tentacled four-eyed foe; “You stand between me and a large flagon of ale. And nobody gets between me and a good flagon.”
Sadly, all these sword and fantasy shenanigans are brought to a swift, unsatisfactory conclusion though, with the sudden appearance of Kulan Gath, and the sorcerer’s seemingly simplistic ability to whisk a disconcertingly groggy Sonja far into the future, at a time when her present location stands in the path of an underground railway construction team. This ‘strange turn of events’ does admittedly provide a modicum of humour, as the red-haired barbarian chases after the terrified workmen with her lethal sword in one hand and a Hyrkanian oath on her lips. But this scene soon sours into a somewhat long-winded exploration of the tube’s tunnels and a bizarre conversational piece between Roy Thomas’ co-creation and a rat.
Fortunately, despite Chu’s debatable choice in concept, this comic does provide some breathtakingly stunning visuals courtesy of Carlos Gomez’s illustrations. The Spanish artist demonstrates all the pencilling skills that a reader would want from a professional with his lush-detailed renderings of a demonic dragon, the intricacies of an underground railway and Sonja’s own famously curvaceous form.