The writing in this issue is lackluster, despite itself. Ryker and Lieberman give us an unlikely buddy-movie-type pairing, with the classic misunderstanding thrown in for good measure. They keep Sonja as a hot-headed, blustery warrior, who talks trash and backs it up with her sword mastery. However, they throw some real duds at the reader in the process. Upon entering the tavern, where Sonja and her little pal are unwelcome, Sonja decides to throw down with the "big blond she-bitch." I don't set out with these reviews to argue semantics, but is Sonja that poorly educated a character that she would have to specify her foe as a "she-bitch?" After all, I'm pretty sure that by definition alone, all bitches are "she."
Honestly, the story doesn't do much to bring me back after that misfire. A couple practical questions refused to let go after I read this issue: Why doesn't Sonja wear more clothes in the cold weather? Sonja spends the entirety of this issue in snow-covered climates, but chooses only to wear a fur coat -- opened, mind you, so she looks like a medieval flasher --on rare occasion. Might want to reconsider the whole chainmail bikini thing in those colder countries there, Red. While I understand Dynamite's attempts to capture fans' interests with the titillation of the lead character, this story would have been every bit the same story had Sonja been a little more intelligently clothed.
My second question is where does Red Sonja store a grappling hook?
Walter Geovani's artwork is crisp and detailed, but a little too committed to being a Jim Lee or Mike Deodato clone than just letting his style come through. There are moments of clarity, where Geovani's work jumps away from being a Jim Lee imitator, but more often than not, the figures (especially Red Sonja) are only slightly exaggerated to the point where I am uncertain if that is intentional exaggeration or flawed drawing. His storytelling and character acting provide a solid foundation to build on, but that foundation needs to have some structural support. He needs to build in those areas of strength to make the art better. Geovani's landscapes are wonderful examples of the talent available here. I just hope it finds focus.
I get what the crew is trying to do here. The outcast and slaughter of the Budini make it quite clear. This story is one of intolerance and a quest for understanding. Of course, this is only the beginning of this series, so the answers are not all revealed here. To this point, the story is a tired one in comics. Mutants, aliens, teenagers, Native Americans, Jewish people -- we've red this intolerance before. Substitute out any one of these archetypes for "Budini" and I'm sure you can find a story that is a little more solid and more than a bit more enjoyable. Maybe the series will pick up steam in the next issue, but for now, I'm sorely unimpressed.