Hopefully I'm reviewing the correct book, as there has been quite a bit of confusion regarding the trade of Marvel reprints and the trade collecting the first few issues of the new Dynamite series. THE ADVENTURES OF RED SONJA sounded like a good idea when it was first announced. As Dark Horse Comics' reprints of the classic Marvel Conan comics have proven very successful, it only seemed natural to bring the classic adventures of Conan's redheaded peer back to print. In fact, I was surprised Dark Horse didn't just swipe up the rights to all the Robert E. Howard characters. Anyway, if this first volume of Red Sonja reprints is any indication of how this series will continue, then DE can just stop now, as they won't be getting any more of my money. On one hand, the stories just aren't very good; on the other, this is the absolute worst reproduction of artwork I have ever seen.
THE ADVENTURES OF RED SONJA VOLUME 1 reprints her appearances from Marvel Feature #1-7, written by Roy Thomas and Bruce Jones, with art by Esteban Maroto, Dick Giordano, and Frank Thorne. The first story, by Thomas, Maroto, and inks by Neal Adams, is a decent story supported by some crisp art. The next brief story has some decent art by Giordano, and the remaining stories are by Jones and Thorne. From here on, the story quality drops dramatically; in fact, I'm surprised that Thomas, as editor, even approved these stories - by all rights, they could have been comparable to the Conan comics but end up as pale substitutes. It's odd in that, by this point in his career, Jones had producing some good work, but it doesn't show here. The stories are pretty routine, and it seems as if Jones wasn't interested in developing a consistent personality for Red Sonja. One minute, she's a strong heroine; the next, she's a tease. Supporting characters are quite forgettable, to the point that Jones even uses the same name for two different characters in different stories.
The real reason I was interested in this collection, however, is the Frank Thorne artwork. I will admit that Red Sonja was not Thorne's greatest work, but his is certainly the name most associated with the character. Anyway, one thing that HAS to be considered about Thorne's artistic style is that his lines are not very distinct, so his work needs to be reproduced as accurately as possible in order to keep its form. Dynamite fails miserably at this - the reproduced art is too light and is overwhelmed by the garish recoloring. The colors either bleed past the lines or obliterate the lines completely, leaving us with blobs of color instead of defined figures. This was a major problem with Dark Horse's earliest printings of the Conan comics, so I would have thought that other publishers would have learned from that. In closing, if you want some sword-and-sorcery goodness, don't bother with this book - just stick to Dark Horse's Conan reprints.