Writers: Mirka Andolfo & Luca Blengino
Artists: Giuseppe Cafaro, Salvatore Cafari, Valentina Pinti,Francesco Paciaroni, Nathan Ramirez, Chiara Di Francia, Giovanna La Pietra & Fausto Michelotti
Colorists: Chiara Di Francia, Nicolò Laporini, Gianluca Papi & Francesca Carotenuto
Letterers: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou & Jeff Eckleberry
Cover Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Release Date: August 23, 2023
Scavengers find poor pickings among the dead. They blame their leader Three-Eyed Shezem for placing them among the stragglers of his war party. Then a woman clad in a chain mail bikini and a fur cloak rides into the burning village. Have the gods finally smiled upon them? Let’s hack into Red Sonja Vol. 1: Mother and find out!
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Pirates kidnapped Sitha from her cradle. Years later, her parents learned she was in Hyperborea. Zondryak, the King Of The Slums in Messentia, commissioned Red Sonja to find her. It’s taken her two months to travel here from the capital city of Argos, only to find this remote village burning and looters searching the corpses. Suddenly, like a gift from the gods, Sitha emerges from the flames. The girl is just as Zondryak described her: ritualistic signs of her lineage mark her arms. Sitha’s eyes glow when she sees Sonja. The exhausted girl rushes into her embrace and insists that Red Sonja is her mother!
Red Sonja will find returning to Messentia as difficult as shaking Sitha’s assertion. After a battle leaves her injured, she’ll awaken to discover a man tending her. How dare Samosh touch her so intimately, even to nurse her back to health! Worse, Sitha believes that they should continue living together as a family! Red Sonja’s spirits ebb further when she finally delivers the girl to Zondryak and collects her fee. Sitha feels betrayed. Red Sonja feels like she’s just sold her daughter!
Red Sonja Vol. 1: Mother will take Red Sonja and Sitha across the Hyborean world. From Hyperborea to Argos, thence into Shem, and eventually to faraway Khitai, they will meet soldiers, thieves, and an evil baroness. They’ll battle blind priests and monsters, visit the castle of a mad king, and find friendship with an aging servant named Setubai. Yet the most intense battle of all will be the battle for their souls, as Red Sonja wrestles with her conscience, and Sitha battles the raging spirit inside her. If you find yourself confused regarding Sitha’s background, don’t worry. The pieces of that puzzle will come together by the end. And while Red Sonja Vol. 1: Mother ends on a cliffhanger, Red Sonja and Sitha grow as people while they battle the dangers life throws into their paths. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, and you’ll be glad you shared it with them.
Giuseppe Cafaro’s characters often appear angular and wear exaggerated expressions. Backgrounds—and characters in long shots—may look barely sketched in. Yet there’s also an organic, flowing feeling to his work, such as when the wind whips Red Sonja’s hair. His dynamic style relates action well, sometimes faster than the eye can see. There’s over-the-top silliness, such as when a man’s severed head flies through the air screaming, and battles suggest a George Lucas-like love of lopped-off limbs. At times, dialogue refers to people and objects that only appear in later panels. Yet I like his sense of symmetry, page composition, and how he frames scenes. I particularly like a statue in Samosh’s home that presages Sitha’s transformation in later issues.
Chiara Di Francia enhances Cafaro’s images with bright colors full of richness and depth. They show shadows and highlights, enliven action scenes, and convey realism. Flashbacks—such as when Zondryak commissioned Red Sonja—appear sepia toned. Like Giuseppe Cafaro, he allows other artists to contribute to issue #5. But then he returns to sole coloring duties to follow Sitha’s struggle to survive when separated from her flame-haired guardian. Large, uppercase black letters usually inhabit dialogue balloons. They give way to small font and lowercase lettering for lowered voices. Red Sonja Vol. 1: Mother boasts a wealth of lettering styles, from immense time-and-space markers to irregularly shaped balloons with backgrounds that gradually shift from white to red. Balloon arrangement takes on beauty, particularly in the early issues, before the action heightens and situations intensify.
Red Sonja Vol. 1: Mother explores our responsibility toward others, our craving for power, and how much we long for a sense of family. This six-issue trade paperback—filled with action, sorcery, and Hyborean myths and legends—also packs a forty-page cover gallery.