(++ Warning: Mild Spoilers Ahead ++)
Isolde has been left to rule Hyrkania as a regent in Red Sonja’s absence. Starvation is imminent, and Hyrkania needs to begin rationing its food supply. The nobles are already suggesting to simply let the peasantry starve; Isolde has witnessed starvation and will not let that happen. Isolde and her advisor, Cerkus, try to develop a rationing plan. Meanwhile, Sonja and her companions arrive in Khitai and are brought before its king, Jo’Khan. Jo’Khan, back when he was but crown prince, killed Sonja’s teacher, the Domo, and assassinated his own father. Sonja is the only one who knows the truth about his rise to power, and she hopes she can use this as leverage to get food sent to Hyrkania.
Red Sonja #14 brings a new foe before Sonja and Hyrkania: starvation. While this threat has no body or army, it is no less dangerous.
The ethereal nature of starvation could cause the comic to lose some of its immediate tension, but Mark Russell does a good job of showing the reader what’s really at stake. Isolde describes what starvation looks like and the harrowing toll it takes on a populace. It’s not just people sitting around and waiting to die–there are stages of degradation. Things go from bad to horrid.
The solution Cerkus suggests to Isolde is still quite cold though somewhat rational, and could be an effective stopgap while Sonja pleads with Khitai.
Jo’Khan is a smug and cruel figure. He’s garish, sarcastic, and not all that different from Dragan of Zamoran. Sonja thinks she has him figured out, but he is far more monstrous than she could have imagined.
Bob Q’s artwork continues to impress with its vibrant detailing, expressive characters, and captivating environments. He is an excellent fit for a book like Red Sonja, and he’s aided well by the atmospheric color work of the talented Dearbhla Kelly.
Red Sonja #14 is another impressive issue for this high fantasy title. We witness Hyrkania dealing with the very real and terrible effects of starvation while Sonja brings herself low in the hopes that she can acquire aid for Hyrkania. This one gets a recommendation. Feel free to give it a read.
Red Sonja #14 comes to us from writer Mark Russell, artist Bob Q, color artist Dearbhla Kelly, letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, cover artist Jae Lee with June Chung, and variant cover artists Joseph Michael Linsner; Bob Q; Marc Laming; Juan Gedeon; and Andrew Pepoy with Jason Millet.
Final Score: 8.5/10