Previously in Red Sonja, the She-Devil with a sword found herself in Koth where a cold war simmered through two clans. One of the heads Strabonus hired Sonja to kill Carvalko, the leader of the other clan.
The Threat from Red Sonja #57
Did she live up to that promise?
The Crux of the Plan
Certainly looks like, doesn't it? Looks can be deceiving. It appears that Strabonus' throat has been slashed, but it could also be bloodied animal flesh to create an appearance. Writer Eric Trautmann does a good job keeping the mystery alive. Did she, or didn't she? Perhaps this snatch of narration, related in a poetry that suits Robert E. Howard's pulps, tells the most: "But never before had she acted as a paid assassin."
Sonja certainly puts on a good show. She hides from the numerous guards searching for her.
The Jig is Up
When her mortality gives her away, she fights, but interesting enough, she does not kill the guards nor the servant girl so vital to selling the plan. Although onomatopoeia KRAKs jaws left and right, Sonja never draws her sword, and she is well armed. If true to her word and Sonja killed Carvalko, then she would not hesitate to kill the guards as well. She's instead quite merciful. True, when they wake up, they'll be in the castle's finest infirmary, but they will wake up.
Needless to say, the resourceful Sonja escapes her pursuers, and she next confronts the money man.
Strabonus isn't just evil, he's a welcher as well, and Sonja finds she must pay attention to the man behind the curtain. I suspect Strabonus doesn't really appreciate Sonja's guile and he'll be in for a rude awakening next issue. Until then, Red Sonja is filled with mayhem, some merriment and Machiavellian moves from both parties. This makes for an entertaining feast that's atypical of the simplistic plot usually found in the sword and sorcery genre.
Sonja in Action
Artist Noah Solanga bestows not just beauty to the She-Devil but also a fierceness that ripples from the sinew beneath Sonja's chain-mail shirt. She's not remotely graceful. Instead, Sonja is brutally blunt. She fights like a man. Trautmann puts Sonja into situations that rob her of dignity, and Solanga's only too happy to show Sonja doing whatever it takes to survive: from running away, to crawling up drapes to falling unceremoniously on the rooftop.
Adriano Lucus makes Sonja's signature red hair flow like fire as she makes a hasty retreat, and he gives a hint of her honor in the silvery glint of her chain-mail. Compare her to the dull iron grey clad guards, and you can guess without having read any other of her adventures that she is the hero of the story.
Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.