Last month Dark Horse and Dynamite finally launched their collaborative new series, Conan/Red Sonja, which brings two of the biggest swords-and-sorcery heroes together once again. The first issue detailed the first meeting between the two of them, and it proved to be all-out fun, beating my expectations of the title, whether we talk about the story or the art. Collaborative projects can’t be easy to pull off but if Conan/Red Sonja is any indication, then things are going to go great for this series, which is great as far as I’m concerned.
Conan/Red Sonja #2 is the second meeting between the two titular heroes, and an interesting meet-up it is too. And more than just the titular heroes, we also have two of their greatest allies as well, Belit for Conan and Annisia for Sonja. The two sides meet together in a naval battle, and the story involves some really hard-hitting action from both sides while the art portrays that to the fullest. This issue is another example of the finest that you can expect from a creative team that includes the likes of Gail Simone, Jim Zub, Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart.
This is the second issue in the four-part mini-series and it proves to be as good an issue as its predecessor. Searching for slavers along the Black Coast, for Sonja and Annisia have taken an oath to hunt them down and claim justice for the many missing Zingarian ships lost in the waters, the two women run into Belit and Conan. After a brief but kickass fight, they all come to solve their differences, and that’s when things take a dark turn and we go back to the… momentous events of the first issue, and meet up with the villain of the mini-series.
As before, some really strong writing here from both the writers. Last time they were writing a “fresh” perspective on both, and now there is some familiarity everywhere, and we skip forward several years. This allows the writers to properly place the characters in the context of their other adventures, such as Conan meeting Belit for the first time (an event covered in Brian Wood’s Conan the Barbarian run) and Sonja and Annisia spending some three years in a gladiatorial slave arena (an event covered in Gail Simone’s first arc on the current Red Sonja series). With the addition of the two new characters, that context certainly helps, more so since I’m familiar with both events and thus am able to fully enjoy the new relationships that have popped up here.
But truly, the really neat thing here is how similar the two characters actually are. Sure, they have their differences beyond the obvious, but on the flip side, there are far more similarities between them than there are differences. And this applies most when you consider their attitude and their leadership and their fighting prowess, all of which go hand-in-hand to create something wonderful. They are characters who define their identities on their own merits and don’t depend on others, though they are indeed very close to their direct supporting characters.
That’s where Jim and Gail really excel. Plus it is so great to see Annisia again, so long a time after Gail’s first arc on the current Red Sonja ended back in, like, December 2013. And on the other hand, it is nice to see how Conan has improved as well, though not so much that there isn’t any chemistry between him and Sonja. In fact, that’s one of the more standout things here, that the tension between them is anything but romantic, and they are just friends who haven’t seen each other in forever.
Dan is the artist here who also does the cover art, while Dave handles the colours, and the letters are by Richard Starkings & Comicraft. The art here is unbelievably good, same as before. There’s a certain angular stylishness to the pencils, and the colours are often slightly muted, adding to the whole mood of the whole thing, and when things go to hell in the middle of the book and then again towards the end, the pencils and colours and inks really stand out, resulting in some excellent visuals that I keep looking at again and again.
More Conan/Red Sonja: #1.