"Red Sonja: Halloween Special" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Written by Erik Burnham, Anthony Marques, and Liam Marques
Illustrated by Tom Garcia, Anthony Marques, and Liam Marques
Colored by Morgan Hickman and Dee Cunniffe
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
2018, 32 Pages, $4.99
Comic released on October 24th, 2018
Just how do they celebrate Halloween in Hyrkania? You could take in the sights of the Festival of Valahiei, but if you're Red Sonja, you're probably more at home in the woods hunting a werewolf. The warrior is tricked into this task by an old woman looking to save her son from a monster. She held out on the details about what kind of monster and the big teeth it has. A lycanthrope is just one of the supernatural obstacles our heroine will have to go through if she wants to survive the night.
Artist Tom Garcia shows Red Sonja as every bit the warrior woman. She's strong and powerful and her signature bikini armor leaves little to the imagination. We first see her arm wrestling a huge guy and besting him with little effort. Later on, her stark determination is what powers her through the various occult objects standing in the way of her goal.
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Speaking of those, the monsters on display are varied and unique. The werewolf Red Sonja eventually faces is more man than beast, standing on two legs, and towering over our heroine. From the first moment you lay eyes on him, you can tell that this is a creature that has been through Hell. His very existence is torture and he's lashing out at anyone or anything that gets in his way.
Colorist Morgan Hickman gives this story a rather foreboding tone, particularly once Red Sonja gets into the woods. The shadows loom over her from every angle. A fire erupts in one scene and it casts an eerie, otherworldly light on the warrior. Another creepy light source comes from the blue translucence of a number of ghosts that watch Red Sonja's movements carefully. They glow with a paranormal energy.
Even one of Red Sonja's enemies, Kulan Gath, shows up as an undead specter to taunt her along the way. He speaks in this dark, guttural manner. Letterer Taylor Esposito uses black word balloons with a twisted white font for the character's speech, adding to the overall chilling experience.
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Writer Erik Burnham's story is just part of the Red Sonja Halloween Special. There's another tale as well. “Hail Halcoose!” from Anthony Marques and Avery Marques is almost non-stop action as Red Sonja tears into a cult looking to summon an ancient monster. The artwork is very reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke, which is certainly not a bad thing. There's a tinge of humor in this story too, as our heroine is pure strength and the quirky cult leader is sniveling mustachioed middle-aged guy.
Halloween is the perfect excuse for anyone and everyone to jump into horror. I'm glad that comic publishers are getting in on the fun, allowing creators to explore the spookier side of some classic characters. The Red Sonja Halloween Special is a great example of this and I sincerely hope we get to see her tackle more horror elements in the years to come.