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  1. #1
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    Default Seven Sonjas

    Since there was a lot to this, I did it in MS Word, and am copying it in. Willl do it in a couple of insatallments to cut down on post size.

    With 3 July rapidly coming down upon us another (and unnecessary) period of transition and uncertainty draws to a close. I say unnecessary because if Dynamite had simply held to a simple story telling principle, one that Marvel held on to from 1973 to 1995, life for Sonja fans would be a lot simpler and calmer but no less exciting. That principle is simply to tell the biography of 1 person living at 1 particular time in detail, starting with a logical beginning and taking it to an equally logical end, which does not necessarily mean the death of the character. Sonja in her first run had a career of over 40 years, starting when she was “of less than twenty years” (“The Day of the Sword” in Kull and the Barbarians #3) to somewhere in her 60’s. (“Call of the Wild” in Conan the King # 28) That is a lot of territory to cover, and the printed stories did not come even close. In a much shorter span of time we have been treated to at least 6 Sonjas, with # 7 on the way.
    On the plus side, the stories are consistently well written, the art (with 1 exception) varying degrees of excellent, and many of the old gems have been reprinted.

    Red Sonja # 1: Red Sonja issues 0-34. The one I thought was going to start filling in those gaps, so bought en masse once I learned they were out there. She looked and acted like Sonja, had the same talent for getting into (and out of) dire difficulties, but some-thing was not quite right, like a photo of an old friend that’s out of focus. It did not feel like Hyboria, there were too many errors in her back-story, out of character behaviors - one very horrendous, she had (per the chronology) kicked K.G.’s butt royally way back when, and who the H--- is Scathach. The sad conclusion was that DE had invented an alternate universe, given us a different Sonja, and had not been up front about it.

    Red Sonja #2: The Sonja of the one-shots and mini-series. Apart from a few clearly indicated exceptions, this Sonja could fit into the story line of any of the others at the reader’s choosing. Many of the stories are neutral enough regarding DE universe flags that they could even be credited to the original character.

    Red Sonja #3: Red Sonja issues 35-49. Mr. Reed, beginning with the last portion of issue 34, does what is really the only logical thing – the understandable unhappiness of many of the Sonja community notwithstanding. Since DE gave us a Sonja quite unlike the original and then chose to kill her off, the only viable way to deal with it (other than someone admitting that DE seriously messed up) was to introduce the concept of Red being an ongoing force that indwells a host in time of need, rather than being 1 specific person living at 1 specific time. That in one shot handles the variance and provides the rationale for continuing the series. This Sonja is engaging, very human, someone that anyone who is struggling with life’s challenges can identify with, and has a lot of potential. The story line is promising. Where do we go from here as we follow her to further exploits? But, it is abruptly cut in favor of starting a wholly new title and ending this one. The promised great place for new readers ended for yet another promised great place for new readers. A great loss, for the original word was this was to be at least a 2 year run, and there was reportedly enough projected material to go longer than that..
    "Aim at heaven, and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth, and you get neither." C.S. Lewis

  2. #2
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    Red Sonja #4: Queen Sonja. Issue 50 of the prior series became issue 1 of this one and early announcements indicated this was to replace the former series. The timing is clearly stated to be after the uproar of the first series, this Sonja becomes a queen, and she is operating in her homeland. Is this the further adventures of Sonja # 3? Nope. Her origin story ends that idea very quickly, not to mention disconnects her from any other Sonja. Further distance is shown by her uncomfortableness in the position, which is never resolved except by her abdicating the throne at the end of the series. A woman of the nobility would have settled into her new role in due course. Her devotion to ‘the goddess’ is so great that one sometimes wonders whether she is a queen, warrior, or high priestess. Maybe she wondered, too. Interesting stories, but the overall series was crippled by frequent writer changes throughout its run, including the abrupt disappearance of the highly celebrated one who supposedly was to have it for at least a year. There is no clear sense of direction and Sonja is often out of character in both attitudes and behavior. It is just as well that Sonja rides off to follow her adventuring career, but we are again left hanging.

    Red Sonja #5: Prophecy. Sweet mother of Mitra! What were they thinking? Were they thinking? One is tempted to demand that the individual(s) responsible for the travesty of including Red in that mess be forever banished from Sonjadom on pain of being handed over to Sonja when she is a bad mood for her to deal with as she will. Unless RS issues 76 to whatever bring some sort of resolution (I have not had opportunity to get either of the two supposedly now out), this one is mercifully left dangling in the land of dead story lines. Nothing was seen on first reading to connect her with any of the others.

    Red Sonja #6: Red Sonja issues 51-75. My favorite of the lot. Mr. Trautmann has done a fine job of giving us a Sonja that can fit into the story line of the original (the after K. Gath note on the inside front cover & in-text references to Scathach notwithstanding). The look and feel is old Hyboria, Sonja is Sonja (including her talent for getting into dire predicaments), and it’s like being on home turf with old friends. Even the foes are familiar ones – in style if not name. The writing is excellent and the art mostly top shelf. His stated goal was to return Sonja to her roots and he has succeeded. Indeed, the current portion (have yet to get # 75) can easily be what brings her to the attention of King Ghannif of Pah-Dishah. Those of us who know her beyond the realm of DE know the path of exploits over a long and illustrious career that brings us to. I could go on, but don’t want to sound like a press agent.

    My one real disappointment is that there are too many Scathach references. Anything over 0 is too many. While that individual is part of DE’s alternate Sonja universe, she does NOT belong in even DE stories that link to the original Sonja. The reason is simple, there are no grounds for doing so, especially for those set in her early years, as these are. Details will be in an upcoming post once I finish research (20 years of Sonja stories).

    Red Sonja #7: The Sonja of the rebooted series starting at 1 again by Gail Simone. Web postings – including hers, various printed announcements and articles from several sources, and the ever present ‘grapevine’ in all its forms all indicate a totally new Sonja experience. The word out there is promising for all, nervousness inducing for some of us, and only time will tell whether this will be the promised success or one more almost but not quite. We have heard the same – or at least very similar – hype and lavish praise before, the same glowing credentials, the same this is a great jumping on place for new readers. Of one thing we are certain; with Walter Geovani doing the interior art the graphics will be stunning excellence. We can only hope that the written content will match, giving us gripping stories that carry us along and leave us eagerly wanting more.
    "Aim at heaven, and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth, and you get neither." C.S. Lewis

  3. #3
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    Interesting analysis there. It's vaguely comforting to know I'm not the only Sonja nerd who gives these stories THAT much thought

    I WANTED to like the Reed run on the title, I really did. It just never felt like Red Sonja and what was built up to be a cataclysmic, world-changing story ended kinda pathetically (stab bad guy; decapitate goddess; take bath, The End). And I think after that ending, the Powers That Be decided they'd rather pretend it never happened at all. So everyone just gave up on continuity.

    And I can't relate to any story that makes Sonja seem selfless/altruistic/righter-of-random-wrongs. She's an adventurer and a thrill-seeker, drunk and vagrant. She does things because the mood takes her.

    So that's one of the reasons I loved Eric Trautmann's run. And why I'm enjoying Peter Brett's sarcastic, world-weary Sonja. And from all of Gail Simone's work I've read, she is a MASTER at writing complex, flawed, incredibly enjoyable characters. So I'm a pretty happy camper lately.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZACH View Post
    Interesting analysis there. It's vaguely comforting to know I'm not the only Sonja nerd who gives these stories THAT much thought

    I WANTED to like the Reed run on the title, I really did. It just never felt like Red Sonja and what was built up to be a cataclysmic, world-changing story ended kinda pathetically (stab bad guy; decapitate goddess; take bath, The End). And I think after that ending, the Powers That Be decided they'd rather pretend it never happened at all. So everyone just gave up on continuity.

    And I can't relate to any story that makes Sonja seem selfless/altruistic/righter-of-random-wrongs. She's an adventurer and a thrill-seeker, drunk and vagrant. She does things because the mood takes her.

    So that's one of the reasons I loved Eric Trautmann's run. And why I'm enjoying Peter Brett's sarcastic, world-weary Sonja. And from all of Gail Simone's work I've read, she is a MASTER at writing complex, flawed, incredibly enjoyable characters. So I'm a pretty happy camper lately.
    I understand where you're coming from, Zach. What keeps me wondering on the Reed run is that he gave them the whole planned 2 year program before he started writing it, they were A-OK with it, so I can't help but feel they decided to do the Queen switch early on so told him to cut it down and bail. Maybe it's just the writer in me, but the hunch is that there was more and bigger planned, but got shot down.

    Sonja's been 'my girl' for nigh unto 40 years now, am a histiory geek as wekk as Sonja nerd, so I guess it just comes natural. Nice to know I'm not the only one who takes this serioussly.

    You might not go for the Marvel originals then. Not all, anyway. She is often protrayed as a drunk, vagrant, thrill-seeking adventurer that has a penchant for doing what she perceives is right because it's the right thing to do. Not to mention her grudge match against individuals like those that raped her and butchered her family.

    Am liking Peter Brett's run as well. Would have preferred her not becoming a whatever it is in issue 3, though.

    Have never even seen any of Gail's work, let alone read it, so like Schultz, I know nothing... nothing...
    "Aim at heaven, and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth, and you get neither." C.S. Lewis

  5. #5
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    You're right, she did often 'do the right thing' in the Marvel stories but usually because she had some personal reason for doing so. I guess I like her stories best when she's less Wonder Woman-y.

    One of the most memorable stories for me was back in the latter days of Conan the Barbarian, where she spares a young rebel because he reminds him of her, only to kill him later, regretfully, when he tries to stab Conan in the back.

    Also, I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying this conversation

    Oh, and check out Secret Six for Gail Simone at her evil, twisted, compassionate, brilliant best. I'm still in awe that she got this book.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZACH View Post
    You're right, she did often 'do the right thing' in the Marvel stories but usually because she had some personal reason for doing so. I guess I like her stories best when she's less Wonder Woman-y.

    One of the most memorable stories for me was back in the latter days of Conan the Barbarian, where she spares a young rebel because he reminds him of her, only to kill him later, regretfully, when he tries to stab Conan in the back.

    Also, I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying this conversation

    Oh, and check out Secret Six for Gail Simone at her evil, twisted, compassionate, brilliant best. I'm still in awe that she got this book.
    That's the thing that makes Sonja Sonja, she's personally involved. Thinking back over the body of her Marvel tales, that is a unifying theme. I don't remember any stories where she is the 'caped crusader type' (presumably what you mean by Wonder Woman-y), but rather she encounters a problem, gets bitten by it, and then makes the local nastys regret they ever saw her. Alternatively, she is being paid to do something and 'doing right' is either what she is being paid to do or is necessary to get it done. Am speaking of the original here, as the DE version(s) is/are so wrapped up with the catscratch thing that am at the 'Enough already!' point.

    Might that story you mention be in the Conan 241-250 set? Am at 205 and don't remember it from there back. Won't take long to get there, as the only Conan stuff I have is Sonja related.

    That makes two of us. Nice to be able to have intelligent conversation around here. There are some insighghtful folks lurking in these threads.

    Who does Secret Six? Not heard of it before. Is it relatively new? My local (sort-of, everything is a long haul away) shop has very little old stuff.
    "Aim at heaven, and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth, and you get neither." C.S. Lewis

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZACH View Post
    I guess I like her stories best when she's less Wonder Woman-y.
    I just wish there was a decent Wonder Woman book out right now, but that's another story...

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