Red Sonja finds herself traveling as protection for a caravan of merchants. One of these merchants, the Shakespearean named Osric, discovers his brother is among another group who sojourned in the desert.
Sonja and her friends go to investigate. The arachnids are courtesy of yet another loony servant of a dark god. Woe be tide to the adherent of the Scorpion, for Sonja is the champion of the Goddess and will not truck with monstrous deities.
Sonja on the Hunt
There’s a lot to recommend in this issue of Red Sonja. First and foremost, writer Eric Trautmann, emphasizes once again that Sonja is a true woman and not a mandrake root come to life. Her goddess and savior Scathach is a true deity not the charlatan wife of Kulan Gath. You might ask, what’s the difference? As I said in my review of Red Sonja #29, one origin supports the idea of Red Sonja being a modern symbol for feminism, a precursor to Xena Warrior Princess. The other suggestion — the one turning her into an animated potato — undermines feminism.
Here, we get confirmation from the foe Sonja battles. Else the disciple of the Scorpion would not, in deference to her standing, offer Sonja hospitality and safe passage. This etiquette adds a certain Weird Tales charm to the otherwise brutal story, and if not for the Scorpion’s murderous behavior to an innocent, downright harmless band of merchants, you would almost consider Sonja to be bad mannered to throw that hospitality in the Scorpion disciple’s face.
Trautmann relates this encounter in just one four-act story. With Patrick Berkenkotter and colorist Marcio Freire, he accentuates the ferocity of the She-Devil that easily precludes any further elaboration.
In this scene, Berkenkotter alludes to the Frank Thorne Red Sonja, and it’s not just the exotic shape of her eyes but also the sheer audacity of her set-to against a small army and succeeding. It’s that affront that triggers the climax of the book. The disciple of the Scorpion decides to end Sonja himself.
As you can see, the disciple, magically enriched, tossed Sonja through the wringer before arriving at this duel’s head. You ponder if this will be the end of Sonja because quite frankly without cheating how can she win? Trautmann, Berkenkotter and Freire rely on a superb tactic that’s pure fairplay and dependent on Sonja’s personal strength. No spells. No calls to her Goddess for help. Sonja’s stratagem is a giddy display of her awesome might and her even greater willpower. Give this woman a power ring, and she would be able to punch a hole through adamantinum. She may not actually need a power ring.
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.