Savage Red Sonja: Queen of the Frozen Wastes
Other than the curves and red hair, I haven't really gotten into Red Sonja. She looks great, but I can't think of a single story that really stands out in my head from what I have read. (granted, I haven't read too much.) This one was in the bargain bin at the local music/comic store, so I grabbed it for yucks.
Not sure about the "Savage" part of the title. The Conan Dark Horse series thankfully has a detailed Wikipedia page on the various imprints, but from what I could find, Red Sonja's Dynamite run doesn't have as concise a page listing.
Sonja has hired herself out as a scout amongst warring faction in the Gunderland mountains. After the battle is concluded, the survivors are beset by beast men who overpower them (and Sonja) and bring them into the underground lair of the Queen of the Frozen Wastes. The Queen rules over neanderthal men, yeti and human slaves, and enjoys watching arena battles and partaking of flesh.
The Queen is some amorphous god who evolves as her followers evolve. She started out with a Neanderthal/Yeti appearance. Now that her followers include men, she has a more human form. That idea for a monster/villain wasn't too bad. But then it felt like the plot created her powers ad hoc as the story rolled along. She can absorb her followers wounds and heal them, unless there has been a killing blow. Also, her evolutionary history varies. First it was the form of her followers, then it was what/who she ate - or bored her fingers into the brains - or, she wouldn't need to kill them if she could "love" them and they would love her.
The latter, basically, is an excuse for a Carmilla-like near-naked Queen to make lesbian overtones toward the chainmail bikini-clad Sonja.
Well, it worked for Hammer horror movies, so power to Dynamite for tapping that 13 yr old horny boy demographic.
Seriously. There might not be quite so much snickering about Red Sonja's appearance if there were some stronger stories behind her.
Maybe my inner dirty old man is just becoming an old man, but the chainmail bikini - which usually doesn't bother me at all - really seemed silly in this story. Sonja is in "the Frozen Wastes". Does anyone really expect her to be wearing nothing but a bikini and a useless cloak that billows wide open in the wind?
I seem to remember when Red Sonja first appeared in the Marvel Conan adaptation of "Shadow of the Vulture", they at least stuck to a chainmail shirt and hot pants. Would it kill 'em to try to make her sexy without going for the near naked route every single time?
Gratuitous covers are fine - Dynamite live on that (just see their Dejah Thoris spin off) but her garments and accouterments in the story should have some logical application to the story.
Or, depending on the Red Sonja mythology - maybe the goddess that granted her those wonderful fighting skills also imbued her with an aura that keeps her body at a constant temperature?
In conclusion - an okay story with some fun eye candy for bargain bin book but not much else going on here in the Frozen Wastes.