(w) Roy Thomas (a) Esteban Maroto (c) Santi Casas
I’m not as knowledgeable on the subject of Red Sonja, Conan, or the whole Sword and Sorcery genre, having only read a few from the ’70’s/’80’s, but I know the name and legacy of Roy Thomas very well. With his name on a handful of DC and Marvel throughout the those years it’s hard not to see his work sprinkled in the history of comics. He is also credited as co-creator of Red Sonja basing her off a one off character from Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s one off character. I’ve read some Red Sonja in the past but never went out of my way to follow through with her new series, but once I saw Thomas was attached to an OGN (Original Graphic Novel) with artist Esteban Maroto I knew I needed to check it out.
With Roy Thomas back at the helm of a character he co-created you know you’ll be in for a treat, even if the story only clocks in at 60 pages. Going back to the beginning Thomas retells one of many origin stories for the she-devil with a sword from the point of a Bard in service to a king. Between the assault on Red Sonja, her fated meeting with Morrigan, and her crusade against those who assaulted her and those considered evil we are treated to a fantastic new addition to her long bloody history. The story and dialogue feels like a relic from days gone fantasy comics which comes as no surprise and fits wonderfully in this context.
Esteban Maroto is not a name many American audience are familiar with – I personally only know him from one title – but after reading this I think that’s a shame. With Thomas bringing back a sort of nostalgic sword and sorcery script Maroto adds on to that with a great sense of atmosphere, and character design that looks like an issue straight out of the 70’s. I think Morrigan’s design might be one of my favorites in recent years in comics (aside from Spider-Gwen). I loved the art immensely, it made me want to go back and read Weirdworld and other 70’s fantasy.
Not much can be said for colors due to them sticking to black and white art with only one color emphasized, red. On color duties is Santi Casas who I’ve never heard of and with a quick google search wasn’t able to find much. I think this story highly benefits by being black and white with only red, but to others I can see it not flowing as well.
Final Thoughts: Red Sonja: The Ballad of The Red Goddess is a fantastic call back to the bygone days of sword and sorcery stories. One of the greatest parts of this OGN is the fact that even a newcomer who has no knowledge of the characters/universe can sit back and enjoy it. I did read this digitally which was fine, but I have seen the physical hardcover out in the wild and it is a site to behold that I plan on purchasing in the future.
Favorite Quote: “You wanted a fountain of life and now your life makes it own fountain, as it flows from your body.” -Red Sonja. This is just a super bad ass line!
Side Note: I love that they gave an origin of why she wears the Bikini chain-mail, plus I found out Esteban Maroto made the original design. There are forwards and afterwards from the talent, and multiple pages of art, and breakdowns of how the panels where created! I love these types of bonuses.
P.S. I know I said “sword and sorcery” a lot, but it felt exactly like a 70’s sword and sorcery (sorry) story in the best way possible!