The Adventures Of Red Sonja Volume 1 Featuring Conan Paperback – Dec 13 2005
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, this volume is a waste of your money due to incredibly poor digital recoloring. The coloring job is horribly uneven, with some issues looking fairly decent, but others looking harsh and garish. One might believe that the coloring also obscures the fine linework by Esteban Maroto or Frank Thorne, but picking up an original issue shows the same poor reproduction problems so one can't really fault the publisher for that. I believe Dynamite had to work with inferior originals in their reproduction, which would be forgivable if not for the errors sprinkled throughout the volume, many of which were introduced in the digital re-lettering process. One character gets three names in the span of 2 pages. Typos like "daighter" and "misbeggoten" were introduced. Existing typos were faithfully reproduced rather than fixed. One credit mis-identifies creator Robert E. Howard. There's even a typo in Roy Thomas' text introduction.
All of the above suggests a rushed job, which is even more incredible when one considers that this book was several months late with no explanation, now or then, from the publisher. This material isn't great literature, even by pulp standards, but it deserves better than the shoddy, slipshod final product we got. If you are interested in this material at all, don't buy this book. Save your money and seek out the original issues.
The stories appearing in this volume vary in quality since the writers were still trying to define this heroine. It quickly becomes clear that Red Sonja is a lusty and crafty opponent, as well as one who isn't afraid to confront her role as swordswoman in a male-dominated barbaric age. It's not deep writing, but it contains more depth than other pastiches of this type. One of the stand out stories is the one in which Sonja is hunted by a tracker who mercilessly slays any who come to her aid. It is an interesting challenge requiring more ingenuity than a sword thrust.
The art in this volume should have been some of the attraction for readers. The first story is lovingly drawn by Estaban Maroto while the rest of the book contains the lushly-detailed work of Frank Thorne. The latter artist stamped an indeliable impression on the image of Red Sonja that has lasted a few generations. Thorne utilizes some interesting panel work accented by his unique style such that his Sonja stories make even an average story excel. But, as mentioned earlier, these stories are only undermined by the poor reproduction. In fact, much of the energy is muted by the inadequate job.
Dynamite Entertainment has had many delays in getting both this book and a contemporary Red Sonja comic out to market. They have announced a companion volume reprinting the early issues of Red Sonja but it has not come out, despite an anticipated release date of Nov. 2005. Instead, Volume 1 was released in November. Based upon the poor quality of this reprint and the frequent broken announcements of new product, it seems Dynamite can not publish comics of much entertainment value. These original stories, their fans, and future readers deserve better. I recommend saving your money and using it instead to track down these original stories. You'll enjoy them much more than this poor reproduction.
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.