“Based on the heroine created by Robert E. Howard”, Amy Chu’s storyline for Issue One of “Red Sonja” may well have momentarily disconcerted some of the comic’s 18,758 readers by following the exploits of New York beat cop Max and his investigation into a report of a “naked woman swinging a sword” rather than simply concentrating upon the titular character’s immediate predicament having inexplicably travelled “from Hyrkania to the Big Apple”. However, whilst initially bewildering, this story-telling technique actually provides an enjoyable introduction into modern times for the “She-Devil” and allows the Harvard Business School graduate to slowly flesh out the local authority’s reaction to the “mentally unstable subject”…
Indeed, the twenty-page periodical’s opening, which depicts the sword-and-sorcery heroine being surrounded by armed police and cursing the cowardly-armed curs about her, comes across as being as realistic a situation as one might expect within a comic book, especially when a terrified rookie shuts his eyes and opens fire at the Hyborian Age heroine, striking her sword arm and causing the “woman warrior” to mark him out for revenge; “<No one draws Sonja’s blood without paying dearly.>” Of course, the fact Max “speaks a semblance of my tongue” due to his Mother teaching him “a couple of languages before she died” may seem a little too lazily convenient for some, but it’s hard to imagine this side of a contrived magical spell or potion, how else the Boston-born writer was going to introduce meaningful dialogue and exposition into her storyline.
Chu’s decision to portray Sonja’s concerns as to “the dangers of our timeline” through the eyes of Jay’s partner also allows the narrative to slowly introduce the significantly sinister influence the “dreaded” sorcerer Kulan Gath apparently still wields over the world of men. Transferred to the ‘care’ of Elmhurst Hospital Center, the two police officers are initially just troubled by the rough treatment their hand-cuffed prisoner receives by the green-gowned medical staff, then later become positively alarmed when they are told to leave the building by a dark shade-wearing National Security Agency operative without even taking their report. Such well-written menace really does help overcome the title’s still palpable “What If? Conan Were Stranded In The Twentieth Century” flavour, and helps set this title apart from “Marvel Comics” previously published similarly-themed Bronze Age one-shots.
Similarly as impressive as this book’s penmanship are Carlos Gomez’s excellent illustrations. Amy proudly states in the rear of this magazine that she loves “seeing a talented artist like Carlos come up with his own interpretation of Sonja and the script” and it is clear from such panels as those depicting the “She-Devil” holding off half a dozen policeman with just the point of her sword, that the Spaniard “is really bringing his A+ game into this series”.