Writer: Christopher Hastings
Art: Pasquale Qualano, Kike J. Diaz, and Jeff Eckleberry
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Release Date: January 12th, 2022
I love everything about Dynamite’s multiverse concept, except for the numbering. DC and Marvel use simple numbers for their universes, but in Hell Sonja #1, we’re treated with universes designated IHC-0089-88XS29 and IHC-0122-25x-9019, among others. Come on Dynamite, can you make the universe designators easier to understand than 400-level Latin? If I can use one of your universe designators as an impenetrable password for my laptop, maybe it’s too complex?
Aside from the universe designators, I enjoyed this first issue and the characters. It’s always fun to see multiple versions of a character you love, and though a couple of them are a miss, most of them are interesting enough to warrant their own books.
This series will focus on Hell Sonja, who is the creator of the portals between universes, sending out a team of Sonjas from different universes each issue to dispatch an evil despot, murderer, or other irredeemable entity and bring them back to Hell Sonja for her to feed on. It’s a combination of Stargate, Hellraiser, and Suicide Squad, except in this case, the squad is made up totally of Sonjas from different universes.
This issue is dark, fierce, and fun, a perfect done in one story that’s a great start to the series, as the team of Sonja’s battle the tyrant Hrodulf (remember, never trust a guy with “hr” in his name except for H. R. Pufnstuff) and his wizard minion. Hrodulf doesn’t seem too intimidating, but there’s a good battle, and all the Sonjas get a moment to show off their skills as the action rages.
Red Sonja is in this issue’s squad, along with Blue Sonja, Moon Sonja, and Gold Sonja. Red Sonja is still the most interesting one of the bunch, but Gold Sonja, who has the ability to fly anything, whether it’s a spaceship or a flying beast, seems fascinating too, with a confident, devil-may-care attitude akin to Han Solo. I hope we see more of her in action in the future.
I found Blue Sonja the least interesting of the squad. She seems like she walked out of an 80’s “Rambo” type film, armed to the teeth with guns and obsessively spraying ammo from them so much that even Red Sonja tells her to cut it out.
Pasquale Qualano’s rendering of the various Sonjas in Hell Sonja #1 makes them each easily recognizable. I loved the way he drew Red Sonja, and in panels where she and Blue Sonja are standing side-by-side, Blue Sonja’s bandana and more military-style looks strikingly different from Red Sonja’s usual “bikini armor”.
The battle scenes take place on the ground and in the air, and the air battle looks like something out of one of Ray Harryhausen’s old films like “Clash of the Titans” or “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” as titanic Kaiju-like creatures battle each other for air supremacy, the Sonjas holding on for dear life amidst the chaos. It’s beautiful work.
Hell Sonja #1 kicks off what hopefully will be a long series, filled with dozens of variations of Red Sonja, one of my all-time favorite characters. It’s a great companion to the Vampiverse book, which features various versions of Vampirella.