Yet another installment in the Red Sonja series. She’s developed quite a few one-shots by now, hasn’t she? Well, this one didn’t disappoint. For the most part, the Red Sonja one-shots tend to be light on the plot but this one was a little different. In roughly 48 pages, Brereton manages to squeeze in a massive amount of symbolism, a mysterious monk, deceit, betrayal, a giant monster and, at some point, there were even frogs and squids falling from the sky.
Obviously the title Deluge hints at there being a torrential downpour on our poor, buxom, red-headed hero. Needless to say, the rain is not Sonja’s idea of a good time. After some unfortunate events, she meets an unusual, old monk who speaks in tongues and his black cat that seems to enjoy following Sonja around. The monk, Baga, is responsible for one of the most important lines in the whole story — “In the end, rain will wash us clean.” The dual meaning spoken by him sets the tone for the rest of the story. Baga insists that the rains will bring retribution to the wicked and reward the good.
There was some rather clichéd aspects to the comic, but any Red Sonja fan should expect that to a certain extent. The basic plot of a barbarian warrior running around and unwittingly righting wrongs is a cliché in itself. It’s how the writer uses the details that can make the comic great, for example, how Sonja grieves the loss of her horse. I can’t imagine someone like Conan being upset over a beast dying. Both are barbarian warriors, but have different priorities and ways of looking at life. Over the years though, there have been some slight changes to Sonja’s character, but I’m happy to report that her all important honor code is still intact. The day they change that will probably be the day I stop reading the series.
The artwork in Red Sonja is crucial to how seriously I take the storyline. Some artists have a tendency to draw Sonja softer with a more voluptuous form to the point of just being plain slutty, and I find myself wondering where the barbarian warrior went. Sonja’s a special character because it can be so difficult to tread the fine line between warrior and woman in a way that’s appealing to all of the readers. Bolson expertly walks that line. In most of the panels, Sonja had hardened lines defining her muscles, drawing on her roots as a warrior to make her look formidable. But Bolson draws a panel where she was sleeping and softens the lines, bringing attention to the fact that at the end of the day, Sonja’s still a woman. The sleeping Sonja makes you want to cuddle her until you realize that she’d probably chop off your hands when she wakes.
Sonja aside, Bolson’s attention to every little detail — down to the blades of grass and hair of Sonja’s cloak — paints the perfect picture and makes it that much easier to imagine. Even things like making the differences in the facial features of the types of people was immensely helpful. For instance, the owners and girls working in the gambling den were clearly Asian, but the barbarians usurping the den had coarser characteristics. And, of course, Sonja stood out the most with her finer features and trademark red hair.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this one-shot due to the brilliant interweaving of the storyline and artwork. It just wouldn’t be as good without that balance. You can always count on Red Sonja for good, simplistic fun. In this case, the memorable characters, symbolism of the rains and the surprising ending makes Deluge a worthwhile read and a great addition to anyone’s collection