Red Sonja #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
This title had a character-defining run a few years back when Gail Simone decided that she was going to take a stab at the She-Devil with a sword and took her through her whole life. It was fun and worked well with the legendary tone of the character, leaving enough blank spaces between story-arcs for anything and everything to happen.
And anything is the best word to describe what Amy Chu has decided to put her through.
So, here’s the story: Sonya is hired by a village to stop a mad sorcerer, Kulan Gath, from summoning up demons and elder things. She goes in and basically does her thing, being a high-level warrior in a mid-level campaign, and slaughters her way through to the sorcerer. They fight, he surprises her with a spell and she loses track of him and finds herself entombed somewhere.
Getting out isn’t a big problem because this is Red Freaking Sonya we’re talking about, but the tomb she was in? It’s a subway tunnel. She’s been transported to modern day New York. Typically when this sort of thing happens in a fantasy story it’s because the production is running low on money, but there have been good high-fantasy/modern day crossovers in the past (Elric was pretty big on them, come to think of it).
This is one of the good ones, playing to the paranoia of the modern world and the concepts that come with high fantasy. Sonya is Sonya, regardless of the world she’s in. She’s been shot at and arrested by cops (who had to remind one another to de-escalate the situation and utterly failed to do so), one of whom speaks a broken version of her language. There’s been beer and all sort of madness and that’s been fun.
More interesting, though, is the sorcerer. Kulan went and started a corporation and is doing all the things corporation CEOs and big banks do in the modern era – causing more misery and suffering than the most evil of his ilk could have dreamed of in the past. He’s also now in charge of the police and various intelligence services due to graft and political corruption, meaning he can turn the whole city on her without having to lift a finger.
Welcome to modern day America, Sonya. Its a dystopia both worse and better than you might have thought possible.
This issue is going to see Sonya confront the evil CEO from her time and maybe get some questions answered, but this isn’t going to be easy for her – because as bad and cruel as her world could be, this one can be much more worse.
Red Sonya might not be the hero we deserve, but here’s hoping that she is the hero we need.
Amy Chu is clearly having fun with the concept, and so is artist Carlos E. Gomez. The latter’s talent for juxtaposition comes to the fore here, as he gets to mix the madness of Sonya’s world with the madness of our own. The whole thing is pretty great and if you’re craving more fantastic in your urban fantasy, you’ll probably dig this.