During an unspecified period, Sonja travels through the mother of all rainstorms in Japan. Writer Dan Brereton fills his story with Japanese mementos expertly illustrated by Chris Bolson and Wellinton Marcal. For example, Japan's snow monkeys take a surprisingly ferocious bow.
The macaques of Japan are relatively benign. By no means should you try to pet them, but if you leave them alone, in general they will leave you alone. The ones in Deluge attack without provocation. Their unusual behavior is indicative of the corruption Red Sonja will soon face.
Deluge reads like a Japanese ghost story. Red Sonja is a type of ronin, a nomadic warrior with no master. Such warriors were common in such supernaturals. The ronin would face numerous dangers to test his mettle before arriving at his fated destination, frequently a damned inn or a cursed geisha house. In Deluge, Sonja eventually arrives at an inn, and yes, it's damned.
Red Sonja trusts only herself. However, Brereton rightly identifies her love for a good horse established by Roy Thomas and Frank Thorne in the classic Marvel series. This predilection for animals softens the character without diluting her fierce nature and bestows more depth. Brereton furthermore characterizes Sonja's pragmatism, wariness and intellect, and he instills nuances to enrich her personality. Overall, Brereton's Red Sonja is a more realistic, multi-faceted figure. It's as if he hired a more experienced actress to portray a role that's been continually essayed by younger neophytes.
Sonja did not come to the inn for a fight. She merely wants to stay warm and rest. Naturally, she doesn't get her wish. Sonja must contend with brutish, none-too-bright invaders and the crafty regulars that frequent the inn. Unbeknownst to Sonja, she's there for a purpose. The fates are using her to clean house, and at the end of the tale, they make up for the chess game by granting her a most welcome gift.
Those expecting a bellicose bloodbath might be a trifle disappointed. Rather, Bolson renders only bursts of violence directed by Sonja's smart strategy. Bolson's and Marcal's Sonja is very much the warrior of tradition. She of the fiery hair and emerald eyes with flashes of silver chain mail. However, they also show other sides of the She-Devil.
Nature cannot be beaten. Bolson and Marcal display Sonja as vulnerable as anybody else to the wretched downpour and the consequences of such weather. When in the relative comfort of the inn, Sonja expresses humor in certain situations, curiosity in others and, intriguingly, ambivalence -- not an easy emotion to convey in art.
Though not illustrated by Brereton himself, Deluge benefits from Bolson's staging variety. Bolson successfully presents Brereton's story through a number of different "camera" angles. For example, a back shot captures Sonja's jarring fall. A bird's eye view frames a conversation and preserves scale as Sonja decides not to be the innkeeper's sword-for-hire. All of these choices make Deluge a more substantial affair.
Dan Brereton is the creator/artist/writer of the Nocturnals and Giantkiller. He has also plied his skill to The Thrillkiller, a memorable Batgirl and Robin Elseworlds series. While Red Sonja doesn't seem exactly up his alley, he, Chris Bolson and Wellinton Marcal nevertheless conjure just the right atmosphere for this latest one-shot.
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