Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Red Sonja #1
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Aneke (pencils), Jorge Sutil (colors)
Lettered by Erica Schultz
“Thank you, O god of mean petty selfish prayers.”
The king of Hyrkania has died, ushering in a new era not only for Red Sonja, the one and only she-devil with a sword, but for her readers as well. With Hyrkania’s new ruler comes a time of peace and prosperity, leaving Sonja to face a most insidious enemy: boredom. Luckily, as this is a sword and sorcery comic, nothing is quite what it appears to be, and Red Sonja’s sword doesn’t stay sheathed for long. Marguerite Bennett’s first issue of the new Red Sonja series is a skillful character study that gets to the heart of who Red Sonja is, even when Sonja herself is introspective and unsure. She’s a warrior, a friend, and a lover, but knows better than to become a queen.
It’s impossible to talk about this comic without addressing Red Sonja’s new Nicola Scott-designed costume, which trades her metal bikini for a more practical, less sexualized chainmail armor and cloak. I honestly never expected to see Red Sonja in a new costume–her (in)famous metal bikini was the stuff of too many pulpy, sweaty nerd fantasies–but in a modern era when even Slave Leia is disappearing, it’s a welcome change. Aneke’s artwork is well-suited to Sonja’s new look, and it captures her bold warrior spirit. Aneke’s work is at its best when it cuts loose and revels in monsters and mayhem; quieter scenes among peasants and medieval villages feel stilted and generic, however. “Is this a good jumping-on point?” seems to be the inevitable question that pops up whenever a new #1 issue hits the stands. If you’ve been curious about following Red Sonja’s adventures, but were perhaps too put off by a tiny metal bikini to give her comic a try, this is an engaging new beginning.
Joe Stando is reading…
Web Warriors #3
Written by Mike Costa
Art by David Baldeon (pencils), Walden Wong, Victor Olazaba & Livesay (inks) and Jason Keith & Andrew Crossley (colors)
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“It’s the same everywhere: you work for the Battery, or you die.”
As the guy who owns (I’m pretty sure) every prelude, tie-in and follow-up book to the Spider-Verse event, I’m more predisposed than most to enjoy Web Warriors. The thing that surprised me, though, is that this book is less like that one, and more of a throwback to Exiles, Countdown, and other idiosyncratic parallel universe romps. Even in this opening arc, we get a lot of how the series is going to go: a team of alternate Spider-people face off against threats to the multiverse, those that are both dangerous enough that they take a team and niche enough that they wouldn’t be fodder for a big event. It feels a lot like Exiles, actually, although it trades the trappings of that book (an X-Men focus, a bleak “anyone can die” outlook) with some new ones (Spider-Man stuff, humor). It’s a clever book that fills a void that’s been open for a while.
It’s also a funny, inventive romp for its creators. Baldeon’s alternate Electros have been a hoot, with lizards and gorillas and luchadors, and the main villain, a living collective of lightning, is cool both visually and conceptually. Costa plays with some fun ideas too, like the unhappy Electro Prime, the Electro who discovered interdimensional travel and started the army, getting stuck with entry level jobs like guard duty. It’s a book with tension and stakes, but also a sense of fun, which tends to get lost in big, multiversal adventures. My one complaint might be the inclusion of Spider-Gwen, as her ability to hop between dimensions tends to undercut the intimate drama of her ongoing series, but the creators have a good handle on her personality, and I can’t blame them wanting to show her off.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!