The She-Devil with a Sword is back in a new ongoing series courtesy of writer Dan Panosian and artist Alessio Petillo. Shedding the new duds as seen most recently inThe Immortal Red Sonja, our hero is back in her trademark chainmail bikini and ready to take on a new mission…one that could very well be her last.
In Savage Red Sonja, the Hyrkanian warrior has set off to obtain the fabled Blood Ruby, a jewel sought by many, claimed by a long-dead king. Along the way, Sonja is joined by the likewise red-headed maiden Celia and her lover Prince Lucian, the rightful heir to the ruby. Their quest will involve no shortage of perils, including bandits, sand-monsters, ghosts, and even Red Sonja herself. See, she lives by the edict that she will only lie with a man who defeats her in fair combat. Needless to say, things get…complicated.
If you’re new to the world of Red Sonja, this book is perfectly accessible, however you may not learn much about the character herself outside the very basics. Very little of Sonja’s personality is present, which would be fine if she wasn’t the focal character. Lucian and Celia don’t fare much better, with the former’s role limited mainly to delivering exposition. There also isn’t much to justify the “Savage” in the title – of the two fight scenes, only one is particularly brutal but Sonja’s no more savage than she is depicted anywhere else. The story itself is fine but ends abruptly thanks to an all-too short 22-page count (standard for most comics but somehow seems even shorter). Panosian’s style is almost pulpy enough to be engaging but his storytelling prowess is much stronger as an artist than as a writer.
Unfortunately, Petillo’s art is another weak spot. The action is depicted well and there are some panels that are just plain beautiful. The character designs, however, are very much the opposite. Not that everyone in comics should have model-good looks but the stylized designs are sharp and pointy in ways that border on unpleasant. Thankfully the colors by Francesco Segala are on-point, particularly in his use of reds and earth-tones that really give the illustrations a pulp paperback look, further accentuated by a grainy texture that makes the pages look old and tarnished. It’s an effective technique, just a shame that the pencils don’t quite match.