Indie Comics Spotlight: Conan and Red Sonja, Cowboy with Many Hats, Atomic Fist Punch


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Conan Red Sonja #1


“Two hunters stalking the same prey?”

Red Sonja and Conan the Barbarian need no introduction. The two of them have been the subject of countless adventures, trials, and stories. Yet it’s still fun to throw them in the mix together from time to time, which is what Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Entertainment are doing with Conan Red Sonja #1. The issue is written by Gail Simone and Jim Zub, illustrated by Dan Panosian, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft.

Conan and Red Sonja become comrades to take down a sorcerer-priest hellbent on creating a dark new age in Hyborian warfare. While Red Sonja relies on cunning to achieve her goal, Conan relies more on brute strength to achieve his. What the two of them don’t know is that they’re after the same thing and their paths will converge before moving in the same direction for a greater good.

Team-ups are always exciting and while this isn’t the first time Red Sonja and Conan have crossed paths, both Simone and Zub do a fantastic job of ensuring it’s going to be one of the more memorable ones. It’s entirely conceivable that the two will cross paths, yet Conan Red Sonja #1 offers one such scenario in a way that’s both natural and emphasizes the two characters. Red Sonja is as quick with wit as she is with a sword, something she uses to her advantage to subtly infiltrate a palace; Conan, on the other hand, uses his uncanny combat prowess to reach the same goal. The possibility of their partnership is extremely intriguing, with Simone and Zub not necessarily revealing all the plot points off the bat. Instead, they’ve crafted a story that promises to unfold at a proper pace, all the while paying attention to the storied legacies of the two characters involved.

Since the two characters are so recognizable, it takes a lot to make them look a little less familiar. Fortunately, Panosian is up to the task, as he manages to breath new life in the looks of Red Sonja and Conan. His style boasts sharp, jagged angles and an abundance of shading, all of which properly contrast not only Red Sonja to Conan, but also the duo to everyone around them. Panels range in size and arrangement; some of them fill the gutters to great effect, while others detail action across multiples. Stewart’s colors wash the book in a feeling of antiquity, further setting the tone for the Barachan Isles off the coast of Zingara. Where his colors especially pop is with Red Sonja’s fiery red hair, which readily stands out amidst those around her.

Conan Red Sonja #1 is everything you could want from a crossover including Red Sonja and Conan. In fact, it oozes all the fantasy charm that the two properties are best known for, as well as blending two characters who, at times, seem to be so disparately different. Simone and Zub bring their best to the work and the way they deftly weave together the talents of the main characters is effortless and makes for a fascinating read. Both Red Sonja and Conan are larger than life in many ways and Panosian uses subtle techniques to embellish their renown through appearance. Conan Red Sonja #1 is well worth picking up and shows a feverish ambition to work towards something epic and grandiose and scale, befitting the travels of both Red Sonja and Conan the Barbarian. 

Conan Red Sonja #1 is in stores now.

The Cowboy With Many Hats


“You don’t know what’s coming to ya, Sheriff.”

When you’re a small business owner, there’s an old adage that you have to wear many hats. Now, assuming you’re not running a haberdashery, that’s a figurative saying, as it means you have to take on varied responsibilities to get the job done. Getting the job done could even go as far as surviving, as is the case on The Cowboy With Many Hats. The issue is written by Christopher Lee Reda and illustrated by Tadd Galusha.

When the Sheriff of an old western town is framed for murder by the State Marshall, he must realize that all things pass before he loses hope to move on. From here, it’s one misadventure to the next, as the Sheriff struggles to reconcile his penchant for doing what’s right with doing what it takes to survive.

The Cowboy With Many Hats is a paean to the sturdiness of the classic cowboy. Reda’s story starts off rather formulaic, with the Sheriff hellbent on enforcing justice until he’s set up to take a fall from grace. From there, though, things get very creative, as his downfall follows him wherever he goes. Reda does a fantastic job following the Sheriff as he bounces from one job to the next, fully embracing the present in an effort to escape his past. What’s even more exciting for the reader is that the past keeps up with him and affects his future, prompting him to adapt quickly and forcefully to survive.

Amidst mostly empty gutters, Galusha depicts a wandering man in all manner of professions and predicaments. The character actions are a throwback to Silver Age comics, where things as simple as throwing something are exaggerated by emphatic action lines. The Sheriff is depicted as a muscular, mustache-wearing individual who you would have no problem believing was respected in his position of authority. The panels contrast sharply between light and dark colors, both to emphasize setting and to better showcase the action. There’s an abundance of frenetic energy in many of the panels as well that effectively capture the action that comes with a gunfight.

The Cowboy With Many Hats starts off recognizable, but then veers in a direction that’s slightly modified. In it, the concept of a man formerly with a purpose being aimless is explored quite intricately and the Sheriff is forced to learn new things about himself and the world around him. Reda’s story is simple yet elegant in a way, as it gives a seemingly one-dimensional character different avenues to explore that one-dimension; in this case, it’s a feverish commitment to anything really. Galusha’s illustrations are a nice throwback and capture the action cleanly, providing the reader with plenty of great looks at the Sheriff’s travails. The Cowboy With Many Hats is a fun ride alongside a character who’s essentially become a dying breed.

The Cowboy With Many Hats is available on Comixology Submit now.

Atomic Fist Punch #1


“Skulls are tough and cool! You should know that.”

Skynet’s arrival will be heralded by a lot of death and, “I told you so.” What it won’t bring with it are atomic fists made for punching. That is, unless Drew Maxwell has anything to say about it. And he does in Atomic Fist Punch #1, written and illustrated by Maxwell.

Xander and his big sister, Zoe, have a less than traditional sibling relationship. In fact, the two of them help Doctor Shaw and his robot, Volt, as they battle giant robots and more. Fortunately, Xander and Zoe were able to create atomic power fists, giving Xander the Atomic Fist Punch attack.

Atomic Fist Punch #1 is a comic that trades in violence, even if it is characterized in a somewhat humorous way. Maxwell manages to deliver that humor very well, ensuring that the comic does appeal to all-ages. Xander and Zoe have a very dynamic relationship between the two of them, demonstrating the connection that comes with siblings. There’s a pretty even pacing throughout the series as well, with each ten-page issue showcasing a very deliberate approach. Maxwell clearly has grander ambitions in mind and it’s pretty clear that those ambitions will be realized as the series progresses.

Maxwell also illustrates the work and it’s got a Coraline feel to it. Characters aren’t quite as horror-infused, but there are some excessive elongations in their body types that remind the reader of the material. Xander and Zoe share many characteristics that one would expect from brothers and sisters. The settings are pretty vague, but serve as excellent backdrops for allowing the characters to stand out even more. The color palette feels washed out at points, which further sets the tone for the content of the book.

Atomic Fist Punch #1 is a very fun and even reckless comic that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The interplay between Xander and Zoe is very natural, giving the story a very exciting feel that’s furthered by their encounters with giant robots. Maxwell’s story knows where it wants to go and has fun with it. His illustrations are very fitting and all-ages, showing the violence in a very cartoonish way. Atomic Fist Punch #1 is pretty straightforward, but it manages to have fun in telling its story.

Atomic Fist Punch #1 is available now as a webcomic.

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