Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle #1

Alongside frequent "Red Sonja" writer Luke Lieberman and artist Fritz Casas, horror author Nancy A. Collins takes a ride into battle with the sword-swinging she-devil in the pages of "Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle" #1. This comic brings about a new threat from the temple of Set in an establishing scene that consumes the first seven pages of the issue, before they bring readers to Sonja's base of operations.

When Collins and Lieberman introduce readers to Red Sonja, they do so through a battle that spans three pages of a dream sequence. This scene, couched between longer bits of exposition, winds up being the best morsel of "Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle" #1, giving readers plenty of ferocity and action while also serving as the shining display of Fritz Casas' artwork.

Casas' characters and pacing are solid but, at points throughout this book, other devices just fall apart. For example, the storytelling in the opening scene at the temple of Set is purposefully murky, but the spilled paint/splattered blood flying across the panels details the outcome, making the obscurities seem more ill-planned than mysterious as it shortchanges the events leading there and removes the process from the story. Casas offers readers more gore over detail or design and some of his choices are just a little too convenient.

Uninspired backgrounds and settings, largely formulated by colorist Adriano Augusto, add precious little detail to the artwork, which is filled with heavy shadows and lackluster lighting. The storytelling suffers again as the action takes a weird shift during the climatic battle, undermining the flow of fight and the narrative through one caption box. For the most part, letterer Joshua Cozine does a nice job with "Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle" #1, giving the story rustic caption boxes that are well thought out and smartly placed. His choice to use asterisks on either side of a sound effect instead of varying font setting or size for noises like "gulp," "moan," "grunt" and "sputter" needlessly date this comic, but the majority of the dialogue is on par.

"Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle" #1 contains the framework for a fun story, but the execution falls flat as Sutekh, the son of Set, is loosed upon the unsuspecting population. It seems a shame that the most prominent event in this issue is Red Sonja's choice of attire as she assumes the next stage of her life but there isn't much else that really stands out.

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