Friday, 27 August 2010

Conan vs Red Sonja. Marvel Feature #7.

Red Sonja vs Conan Marvel Feature #7Way back when I was knee-high to a rock troll, I really didn’t like Frank Thorne’s take on Red Sonja.

I think it might’ve been the less than realistic hair, the strange eyes or just the fact she looked so angry all the time. She might’ve been an impressive warrior and filled a scale armour bikini nicely but you really wouldn’t have wanted to try and have a conversation with her.

Well, it shows how much I knew because, looking at this tale now, I love it. The Sonja that Thorne gives us might not bear any resemblance to John Buscema’s version, which is the first I ever encountered, but she does look like she could chop up a demon with the best of them. And whisper it quietly but the Hyrkanian hacker's actually quite cute in one or two panels.

I have to say this is a much better tale than the one it follows on from in Conan the Barbarian #67. It’s better because it’s more focused. While that story blundered off up an irrelevant and not all that interesting side alley, this stays resolutely on the "A" Plot, even to the extent that Belit disappears off on a track of her own early on and isn’t seen again - something I’m not altogether unhappy about. I have nothing against her - call me sexist but, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing finer in comicdom than a half naked warrior woman - but I can’t help hearing the name “Yoko” every time Conan says, “Belit.” Odd, then, given its tighter focus, that this was written by Roy Thomas, just as that was.

Apart from a rather nice scene in which Sonja reunites with her latest employer and gets an amiable tour of his corpse-filled lair, the tale’s selling point is of course that it features a fight between Red Sonja and Conan.
Red Sonja vs Conan Marvel Feature #7
Sadly for us fans of the woman they don’t know as The Sonj, the implication here seems to be that, in a fair fight, Conan’ll win, whereas I like to think there’s no such thing as a fair fight when Sonja’s around and she’d simply cheat her way to victory.

Still, the fight - which goes on for a fair bit - is fun with each having the chance to kill the other but spurning it before resuming their battle.

Supposedly these second chances are given from a sense of honour but some of us don’t want Sonja to have a sense of honour and we’ve all seen Xena. We’re all used to the idea of subtext with our sword and sorcery. We all know the real reason they won’t kill each other.

As if to rub it in, their fight only ends when a serpent rears its head and they have to join together to fight it. Hmn, Sonja and Conan are getting physical and then a serpent rears its head. I think we know what’s going on there. Needless to say, their post-coil exhilaration convinces Sonja and Conan they’re best of buddies and should stop the fighting.

Trouble is, that’s when the real villain of the piece shows up. He’s a giant man-bat. Ten-to-one on he doesn’t start every sentence with the word “Skreek!” and keep going on about his wife.

We have to get the next issue of Conan the Barbarian to find out what happens next.

I don’t have the next issue of Conan the Barbarian.

But I’m going to get it.

2 comments:

Andrew Wahl said...

Steve:

I just bought this one a couple weeks ago and haven't had a chance to read it yet. I've always enjoyed Frank Thorne's Sonja, even when I was a little fella. After reading your review, I'm looking forward to reading this one even more!

Cheers,
Andrew
ComicsBronzeAge.com

Steve said...

I have to admit I wasn't really expecting much but, having read it, I enjoyed it more than any of the Conan the Barbarian issues I've re-read over the last few years.

Perhaps, in the end, I just find Sonja a more interesting character than Conan. And, while I love John Buscema's work, there's something pleasingly unconventional and distinctive about Thorne's

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