Red Sonja and Conan. Gail Simone and Jim Zub. How could this be anything but a winning combination? And Conan Red Sonja #1, “The Age of Innocence,” is just that—a winner. Simone and Zub show the two warriors at the beginnings of their careers, before they are famous. The two meet while trying to steal the same jewel. As with many such meetings, there are quarrels, an exchange of philosophies, and some flirtation. Also, there is an evil sorcerer, a spoiled prince, and an angry king to round out the adventure.
Zub and Simone write a pair of self-sufficient adventurers used to making their own way no suddenly confronted with someone equally self-sufficient and determined. They frame the story as a historical narrative, looking back with formal, high-fantasy phrasing. Red Sonja and Conan are considerably less formal in their speech. Both characters emerge vividly and neither is given a favorite’s treatment. It is also not possible to tell, looking at the tale which parts were contributed by Zub and which by Simone, which is just as it should be. Further, the two have accomplished the task of writing a single, coherent story that stands on its own while clearly not being over yet.
Dan Panosian captures both the movement and vitality of combat and the quieter moments with equal deftness. The beastmaster’s staged fight between lion and panther and the fighting prowess of Red Sonja and Conan are fluidly drawn. He also captures the quieter, equally important moments when the characters plan, argue, or gain their way through stealth. Sonja and Conan contrast well in terms of build and style, but are clearly related in profession and behavior all the same.
Conan Red Sonja is a dream come true for fans of sword and sorcery.
“The Age of Innocence” is available from Dark Horse on January 14, 2015.
Writers: Gail Simone and Jim Zub
Artist: Dan Panosian
Colors: Dave Stewart
Cover: Dan Panosian
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft