Writer: Torunn Gronbekk
Artist: Walter Geovani
Colorist: Omi Remalante Jr.
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover Artists: Lucio Parrillo, Bjorn Barends, Joseph Michael Linsner, Bryan Hitch, Jenny Frison, Frank Thorne & Cosplay
Release Date: November 15, 2023
Kulan Gath remembers his mortal life. As he gazes down from the astral plane, he watches Red Sonja ride through a snowstorm. What does the dead wizard plan for this warrior maiden who carries the late Lady Alaberta’s black diamond? Let’s leap into Red Sonja #5 and find out!
Kulan Gath shares his disdain for civilization with Conan and Red Sonja’s creator. Yet Robert E. Howard never sanctioned poisoning someone, let alone a trusted friend and mentor. Kulan Gath once pursued his quest for power without regard for loyalty or mercy. Now, as his spirit watches people fight and die on the mortal plane, he remembers what it felt like to be alive and kill those around him.
In Red Sonja #5, Thord Varg conquered Velanger to capture her black diamond. By bringing it to the High Priest’s city of Vestfold, perhaps Red Sonja can stop his reign of terror. Yet she halts her flight to free refugees. Like an uncaring disease, slavers capture the frightened and homeless. But in Red Sonja, they find more than they bargained for.
Torunn Gronbekk meditates on loyalty versus reason, power versus compassion, and achievement versus satisfaction in Red Sonja #5. As priests use sex, violence, and human sacrifice to worship their gods, Torunn reveals a clue to Thord Varg’s power. The High Priest believes he slaughtered innocents to safeguard Vestfold’s future. Yet is he wiser than the She-Devil, who doesn’t overthink things and grasps whatever opportunities she finds? Unlike Thord Varg, she knows power comes with a price. She paid it to avenge her family’s deaths. Now, she uses any power she possesses to help others. Oh, and Red Sonja likes her horse. She talks to it as she would a person. That says a lot about her, too.
Kulan Gath walks through a garden surrounded by planets and stars. Via a reflecting pool, he watches Red Sonja ride through a snowstorm. As she passes burning homes and buildings, she spies a caravan. Red Sonja rides toward the refugees shackled to a horse-drawn wagon. Pairs of red eyes glow in the darkness beneath the wagon’s fabric-strewn wooden hoops.
Walter Geovani imbues Sonja’s horse Erder with personality. Walter’s storybook art packs panels with more power than many double-page spreads. Little touches enhance his visual feast. Consider the similarity between the coils of Sonja’s hair and the many-headed hydra. Observe how he mirrors a severed hydra neck with a slaver’s bloody stump. A circular staircase evokes the coils of a serpent, reminding us of the power that tempts priests and wizards in Red Sonja #5.
Omi Remalante Jr. imbues Kulan Gath’s remembrance with a faded quality, illuminated by torchlight. He surrounds the dead wizard with lustrous colors, comparing the ethereal beauty of his new life with the gray, burning lands Sonja rides through. Yet richness creeps into Hyborean lands as the morning light invades the storm. While bold and vibrant colors fill panels, Omi backlights scenes to suggest Red Sonja’s indomitable nature. Amid all the bloodletting, blood dances in darkness, reminding readers of the source of Thord Varg’s power.
Simon Bowland writes Torunn Gronbekk’s compelling narrative using uppercase black letters on parchment. Simon grants white dialogue balloons to human characters, while those inhabited by a possessing spirit speak with white letters in black balloons. No sound effects invade the pages of Red Sonja #5. Yet Simon ends Torunn’s tale on a chilling note, as bloodthirsty believers demand the death of any who impedes their cause. Thanks to Dynamite Comics for providing a copy for review.
While Red Sonja rescues the powerless and bestows mercy on monsters, a fallen foe influences events from beyond the grave, raining destruction upon the Hyborian world in Red Sonja #5.