Mini-Review: Red Sonja/Conan

I think most women would pay a rather large amount of money for underpants that stayed in place as well as Red Sonja's chainmail bikini bottoms do.  For all of the jumping, kicking, rolling, and hacking going on, it does not budge.

But just as creep-free underwear are impossible, so is the rest of Red Sonja's getup.  I liked her in Gail Simone's comics--she was brash, drunk, and crude.  There were a lot of sly winks at the ridiculousness of the character's appearance, while she still wore the bikini and had the boobs.  Red Sonja became somehow subversive and I fell, rather surprisingly, in love with her.

But here, Simone's run has ended, and we go back to a Red Sonja who doesn't say much except, "CIMMERIAN!" or "HARR!"  Unless her breasts are made of air, I can assure you that she would be having serious back issues hauling them around, especially with the absolutely-no-support-no-none of a triangle top.  Trust me: this hurts.  A lot.  I am in no way near the Red Sonja looks department, but getting dressed everyday requires what amounts to chest armor.

Conan the Barbarian fares equally poorly in the looks department.  I didn't realize that drawing Conan was akin to drawing a Neanderthal.  His heavy brow and DIY haircut are not getting any votes from me.  Plus, he has three times the muscles of any actual human, although, thankfully, the artist did not go for a 90s superhero look, where it basically looked as though all superheroes had head-to-toe goiters.

There also isn't a plot to Red Sonja/Conan, and I could have forgiven the goofy looks of the main characters had the dialogue been sharper or the plot been ... there.  Basically, they become co-generals of this dude's army and go fight an evil herbalist sorcerer who looks kind of like Jafar, but without the hat, and chop people into tiny bits.  Alternatively, had they a Holy Hand Grenade, they could have blown them into tiny bits, but Holy Hand Grenades hadn't been invented in Barbarian Times.

I guess if you've been reading Conan and/or Red Sonja for ages, you may appreciate this return to the most basic of sword-and-sorcery stories.  Otherwise, it's entirely skippable.

I received an ARC of this from NetGalley.


  1. Swords and sorcery art always features women in very uncomfortable looking chain mail bikinis. And weird poses. Someone on Livejournal tested a number of these poses with her husband, to show how impossible they were, and described how they felt. The photos side by side with the books made her point very well. It was hilarious, though. And then there are all those covers with the woman clutching the man's leg. Paul Gogan sent it up on his TV series many years ago, when Conan the Barbarian who comes home to dinner hampered by a bikini-clad maiden holding his leg who gets up and goes into the hall closet when he arrives. "Who's THAT?" demands Mrs Conan. "It's a maiden," he explains, indicating that having a maiden clinging to your leg is standard practice for barbarian heroes.
    I love the old Conan stories - the originals, I mean. Typically racist in the style if the era, but I liked Conan himself; really, he was a decent enough fellow, who never, ever committed violence to get a woman, never had to. He protected them, if anything, and the love of his life was a warrior, Belit. Though he did end up marrying the sweet young thing who rescued him from a prison cell. I write a blog post called, "What if Conan moved in next door?" concluding that while I didn't want him for a boyfriend he'd make a good neighbour.

  2. That also reminds me of Jim C. Hines' cover posing:

    I think the lack of anything Conan was another reason I didn't like this. I don't hate Conan--he seems like a rather decent barbarian with mad weapons abilities. Mostly all he does here is grunt.

    I agree. He would make an excellent neighbor--especially in Wisconsin for shoveling snow! :D

    1. Thanks for the link - yes, it was very like the post I read on LJ. I must go bs k and read it properly.

      Snow shovelling, eh? Yeah, not a bad idea. :-) I had in mind him coming to get you safe back from work if you were on a late shift, and making sure that your abusive boyfriend gets it into his head that no means no, and offering a little lesson to teach him how to treat you.

  3. And I suspect the author of that comic has never actually read the stories - anyone who had would never have him grunting.


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