19th Jan2021

‘Red Sonja: The Superpowers #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Dan Abnett | Art by Jonathan Lau | Published by Dynamite Entertainment

So in a month packed full of Future State titles from DC, and the King in Black stuff from Marvel, I’ve decided to go elsewhere for the first of my weekly reviews. Why? Well, as much as I do love Marvel and DC, I do also know a bit about the business, and the endless special events are as much about market share as fan service. By putting out such a glut of titles, they hope you won’t go elsewhere for your comics fix, a bit like Disney getting you on property when you visit the theme parks. So, scouting around, I thought this book looked interesting. I loved the Project Superpowers stuff that Dynamite has put out in the past, and who doesn’t love a warrior redhead in a chainmail bikini sticking it to the man? As someone who has the Red Sonja Marvel issues, it’s good to see her still alive and kicking, comic book wise.

Let’s take a look.

My first question, of course, was how the heck does Red Sonja, alive way back in the past, team up or encounter the more modern Superpowers characters? Fear not. Where there’s a will, there’s a Dan Abnett. I also get the impression, having given the Dynamite line a quick once over, that there’s a whole lot of crossover stuff happening or coming up between different titles. Is a Dyna-verse on the way? Watch this space. Back to this book, and we start with Red Sonja doing her she-devil with a sword stuff, carving her way through a gang of sell-swords. Turns out she is on a mission for some priestesses, to take down a sorcerer called Skarab Nor. So far, fun but standard sword and sorcery fare. As Sonja makes her way to where she thinks Skarab is, we (and her) meet the other stars of this comic.

Enter Captain Future (think Superman), Mr. Raven (think Batman), The Sword (think Green Arrow), and Vana (think Wonder Woman). All super-powered, all from alternate Earths, and all members of The Project. It seems they trawl the Dynamite multiverse looking for humans with abilities, superhuman ones. Red Sonja, it seems, is on Earth 2709, a pre-industrial planet. Or ‘backwards and primitive’ as Future calls it. Charming. Normally they leave primitive planets to develop, but the metahuman signature on this Earth has led them here, to offer him or her membership in The Project. It’s to ensure the stability and survival of these planets, to avoid super powers destroying or ruining a world. I guess they are a sort of inter-dimensional police force of sorts. The good guys. To the hiding, and watching, Red Sonja, they are just very strange people, possibly sorcerers working for Skarab. Time to see.

Red Sonja goes for Mr. Raven first. She manages to take him down before being stopped by a force field from Vana, which she promptly shatters. She then fights The Sword to a standstill. Seems these heroes have been a touch arrogant in their attitude towards Sonja. Too arrogant and too complacent, fatally so. Red Sonja, it seems, gets two more notches on her belt in a real WTF? moment at issue’s end. You know you’ve enjoyed an issue when it flies by time wise when reading it, and you hate the fact you’ve got to wait 30 days to find out what happens next.

A concept that at first seems slightly out there (yes, I know it’s been done a few times before) under Abnett’s hand just seems completely normal here. Abnett’s writing was excellent, great action, great characterisation, and some superb dialogue, especially the in-jokes and slight sarcasm here and there. Really enjoyable writing. The art, by Lau, was also excellent. Perfectly paced, and gorgeous to look at, he was equally at home with the modern and the old scenes throughout. Chain mail bikinis and retro super suits never looked better.

This was a genuine surprise. I thought I would like it, but it surpassed my expectations. Dan Abnett could have phoned this in, but clearly put a lot of thought and effort in, as did Jonathan Lau, and it pays off nicely. Do yourself a favour and give this a read.

It’s superb.

****½  4.5/5

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