Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Continuing the 70s theme, I went from jungle girls to kung-fu mamas, and now, on to barbarian babe Red Sonja.

This tale is part of a greater Roy Thomas "epic" that begins and continues on into the CONAN THE BARBARIAN magazine. Neither the greater story nor its artistic execution by the increasingly desultory John Buscema are worth remembering. However, that tale did give "friendly enemies" Sonja and Conan to finally test their mettles against one another in a battle of blades.

Though Thomas is credited as writer, artist Frank Thorne surely went his own way as far as choreographing the combat. Conan, "the guest hero," is a bull in a china shop; Sonja, Thorne's "re-creation," is elusive and graceful. As with many Marvel heroes, it was expected that their fight should basically end up a draw. Thorne meets this expectation with the following strategies: (1) Sonja wins the first bout by dumping oil on the floor so that Conan loses his footing, allowing her to claim victory, though she refuses to impale him, (2) Conan renews the battle anyway, outfights Sonja by main strength, and then withdraws so as to cancel out her earlier charity to him, and (3) then they fight for a few more panels before some third character interrupts them, thus leaving the ultimate outcome in doubt for fans of both characters.

Even though Sonja isn't precisely a "supergirl on top" throughout the whole battle, that's mitigated by Thorne's fine linework and by what may be the best female-vs. male swordfights in the history of comics.

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