Writer: Frank Tieri
Art: Cezar Razek
Colours: Salvatore Aiala Studios
Letters: Simon Bowland
Since the recent resurgence of popularity I have enjoyed pretty much all things Sonja, delving into her rich history and also enjoying the more modern takes from Gail Simone on the She-Devil with a Swords many battles but The Black Tower has had so many “what?” moments that it is very hard just to decide where to begin. The first issue was pretty much a standard Sonja fare that has been all covered before with her visiting the once peaceful town of Lur and taking on the local ruffians; the second issue started to change things a little, skipping ahead a few years and putting in some surprisingly new ideas and making this usually fantasy affair into something quite different, especially the final few pages with the ending involving the appearance of laser sword wielding robots but with issue three, Sonja does not quite jump the shark, but straddles a dragon.
Having just put down this issue for the fifth time I still seriously have no idea what I have just read, normally I would leave that statement to one of Grant Morrison’s many DC efforts but for this occasion it is for Red Sonja: The Black Tower #3. For starters the cliff-hanger ending from the last issue seems to have been all but ignored, skipping ahead once again another few years, I can tell this as our one eyed heroine (that was thrown on us last issue) now has some grey hair. All this skipping ahead leaves the reader nonplussed about just what is going on and apart from the Black Tower that still looms over Lur there does not seem to be a thread of sense here.
Criticism of the direction aside, this issue is however is fantastically paced, giving us a brief run down on what has happened in Lur, taking us from Lur’s years of debauchery to the endless flow of The Soulless, the glowing eyed robots spewing forth from the gates of The Black Tower, beating down the locals with their laser swords in the name of their leader, Thraxis, their religious purge reaching across all of Hyboria which then leads us to the meat of this issue, a grand battle between the remnants of brave warriors, led by Sonja and pitting their might against the robotic menace of Thraxis and his followers. It is all over rather quickly but it was one hell of a read, it is just that we are on the third issue and it still feels a little all over the place with so much not explained, can another 22 pages cover it all neatly or is it all a dream brought on by too much Cimmerian Ale, something we have only recently had with a drunken bards tale of his love for his departed Sonja, I really hope not but however this ends, I am hooked at just how insane this book has become.
The creation of this comic is one of those occasions where I wished I saw the reaction of Cezar Razek, on form here with some great art but even they must have taken a double take at the script, Sonja riding a giant dragon, OK, I can draw that, people being popped alive by a strange execution machine, grisly but doable, Sonja whips out a laser pistol from her chainmail bikini and starts fighting space ships, I’m sorry, did I read that right?. Yes, out of nowhere Red Sonja suddenly takes a different and more sci-fi approach, which was hinted at the end of issue two but here Frank Tieri went at it full steam ahead in this totally unexpected direction.
It is only how to see how this story ends or even attempts to make sense of what is going on here which is keeping me from packing in this tale, especially on the final page, a shocking closer if there ever was one and something many fans of Sonja will faint at.
Check out the preview for Red Sonja: The Black Tower #3 here.