Friday, 4 May 2018

Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 - Dynamite Entertainment

RED SONJA/TARZAN No. 1, May 2018
On the face of it a title uniting “the iconic heroine of swords-and-sorcery with the quintessential jungle adventurer in deadly conflict” probably sounded like a money printing licence to “Dynamite Entertainment” when it initially considered “its first-ever Red Sonja/Tarzan crossover miniseries”. After all, the “publishing imprint of Dynamic Forces” had already turned to someone “noted as being one of the most influential women in the comic book industry” to pen its script, and writer Gail Simone has since gone on record enthusiastically stating that as far as she is concerned “Tarzan is the king... When I was a kid, I read every Edgar Rice Burroughs book I could find. I loved the jungle aspects, the family stories, and I loved how Tarzan had to fend for himself at the start. It was just exhilarating to me.”

Sadly however, even someone with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of this twenty-two page periodical’s central characters is arguably going to struggle to come up with a convincingly credible way to bring the pair of popular fantasy franchises together without turning towards utter contrivance or complete co-incidence. And sorrowfully, the Oregon-born author’s narrative unsubtly ticks both of these boxes in spades, ludicrously bringing the “She-Devil with a Sword” forward in time some twelve thousand years courtesy of a visit to the confusingly named Tower of Everywhen and a somewhat tense audience with a ‘mere’ blue-skinned semi-naked Traveller; “I need you, witch. I need your gift… I will sit here until I melt, if need be. If it takes a thousand years.”

Equally as artificial is this story’s main antagonist, the truly vile Eson Duul; a heavily-muscled, lank-haired ‘pig of a man’ who has been accurately described by his creator as being "Tarzan gone wrong." Heavily prejudicial towards the “degenerate” French, and sadistically cruel to both the wild animals he keeps tightly caged within his filthy zoo, as well as his troupe of sycophantic hangers-on, the seriously chauvinistic big game hunter initially appears to be precisely the sort of “classic-style villain… that would fit in with [either] an Edgar Rice Burroughs.. or a Robert E. Howard story.” Unfortunately though, this repugnant “basically awful” ogre’s believability is then subsequently ruined by Red Sonja’s revelation that, alongside Carl Snyder and Stephanie Despouy, he has “some ability to defy time” and has existed since at least the Hyborian Age…

Somewhat more successful than Simone’s script is her collaborator’s competently-composed artwork. It’s clear from this comic’s dynamically drawn figures and testosterone-fuelled facial features that Walter Geovani both “love[s] crossovers, and… feel[s] downright possessive of Red Sonja.” Indeed, the Brazilian illustrator’s tense stand-off between Duul and an enraged Lord Greystoke makes for a truly mesmerising confrontation, and entirely justifies Gail’s decision “to put aside another project that we were working on for six months [just] so he could draw this.”
The regular cover art of "RED SONJA/TARZAN" No. 1 by Adam Hughes

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