When last we left Sonja, it seemed the She-Devil with a Sword had been suckered into slaying Strabonus for rival Clan Lord Carvalko. Of course, followers of the crimson-haired ronin, knew better. Even Conan wouldn't have fallen for Carvalko's ploys, and Sonja is smarter than Conan. Nevertheless, Sonja's justifiably pissed off at being played as a fool.
The classic ruse found in many a detective novel or James Bond film is perfectly nestled in the political intrigue serving as backbone for sword and sorcery. Furthermore, Trautmann also introduces what the Doctor called "Black Science" to the adventures. Sonja finds herself face to face with mechanical automatons running on a special kind of fuel.
This scene neatly characterizes Carvalko as an arrogant, insane genius who even if given a fortune couldn't possibly spark a warm feeling. That makes him a prime candidate for Sonja's kiss, but although she draws blood, Sonja doesn't kill the bastard. Surprisingly, Trautmann takes a different tack for the She-Devil, making her even more heroic, although still pragmatic. This sets up a most shocking happy ending for Sonja and her friends.
Trautmann however isn't done with the reader, and some may feel that his continuation of the story in Koth is tacked on. In reality, it's that ending that most resembles the brutal worlds of Robert E. Howard. Carvalko's last words in fact could be written by Howard. It's just so fitting that nobody gets what they want, not entirely.
Avenger/Invaders' Patrick Berkenkotter takes over for regular artist Noah Solanga, and normally that would be cause for cursing. It's not that Berkenkotter is a bad artist. He's an excellent artist. It's just that Solanga is a fantastic artist, and you really must wonder what's going on in Dynamite's figurative head.
Berkenkotter exhibits a strange fixation on Sonja's boobs. They're big and they move around a lot. I've never actually watched women in chain-mail so I can't say for certain that this isn't a depiction of what really would happen. On the other hand, I'm in the Solanga camp. I think a chain-mail shirt fixed tight to the skin would stop those puppies from cavorting. Sonja's armor should act like a sports bra. Sometimes this emphasis can be distracting. Other times, such as the above example, it's just wrong. At that angle, I should not see so much boobage. Still it's difficult to be too cross when that same artist can choreograph action so well.
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.