Legenderry Red Sonja #2
Written by: Marc Andreyko
Art by: Igor Lima and Adriano Augusto
Lettered by: Thomas Napolitano
Cover by: Joe Benitez and Beth Sotelo
Co-Executive Edited by: Joseph Rybandt and Luke Lieberman
Associated Edited by: Anthony Marques
Based on the Heroine by: Robert E. Howard
In memory of: Arthur Lieberman
Special thanks to: Shannon Kingston
Published by: Dynamite Comics

Not Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

Just like my non-review of Red Sonja #13, I’m going to list every single person who worked on this comic.  Why not?  They all seem to be worthy of credit for something here.  Andreyko wrote the book.  Lima killed it with the artwork.  Joe Benitez’s cover?  Stunning!  Once again there’s a very special thanks to Red Sonja LLC’s VP of Merchandising Shannon Kingston and also an “in memory of” for deceased film producer Arthur Lieberman.  If you’ve read any of my non-reviews for Red Sonja books before you know where this is going.  But I’m going to dig in quite a bit deeper this time around.

I’ll start with when I posted my first non-review for Legenderry Red Sonja #1.  When I posted on Twitter, Legenderry Red Sonja #1 writer Marc Andreyko reached back out.  Here’s what we said:

I can appreciate Marc’s reply.  Marc is saying that it isn’t his fault that Thomas and Smith don’t have special thanks in the book.  Since the license comes from Red Sonja LLC, Marc says that those special thanks (probably) need to come from Red Sonja LLC.  In protesting not reviewing his book I’m basically laying the blame at the wrong person’s feet.  Marc probably worked his ass off writing a great book for fans to read.  He succeeded.  Issue #1 kicked ass.

Legenderry Red Sonja #2?  It was even better than the first issue.  And once again?  I’m not going to review it.  It may piss off people like Andreyko, Lima, and colorist Adriano Augusto – but I’m sure one non-review is just a blip when it comes to reviewing this book.

Have you ever heard of Bill Finger?  Bill Finger was co-writer of Batman along with “creator” Bob Kane.  Bob Kane’s name is synonymous with Batman while Finger’s contributions to Batman went largely uncredited for decades. I’m going to borrow and paraphrase from Wikipedia for a moment to help hammer in my point.

After the success of Superman, every comic company was looking for the next big superhero. Bob Kane had an idea for a character called Batman and went to Finger with his Batman drawings. Said Finger, “I went over to Kane’s, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of … reddish tights, I believe, with boots … no gloves, no gauntlets … with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign … BATMAN.”

Finger would change this initial Batman look. Adding a cowl, a cape, gloves, removed the red from the costume, came up with the secret identity Bruce Wayne, and also added depth by making Batman a scientific detective. When Kane showed the character to National’s editor Vin Sullivan a deal was signed that left Bill Finger out in the cold. Kane was then known as the “creator” of Batman.

Don’t worry – I’m getting to my point here. Batman artist Jerry Robinson, who worked on those early Batman books with Kane long said, “Finger had more to do with the molding of Batman than Bob. He just did so many things at the beginning, … creating almost all the other characters, … the whole persona, the whole temper.” In 1989, Kane also noted, “Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero … I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I would like to say. ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.'”

These days? The creation of Batman no longer says: Batman created by Bob Kane. Nowadays we’ll see Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.

The point? There’s usually not just one creative force out in the world that deserves credit. Writer Robert E Howard created the “Red Sonya” character for a story called The Shadow of the Vulture as a swashbuckler on the seas. When Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith were writing/drawing Conan the Barbarian in the seventies they took that story, very loosely adapted it, and came up with their own character: “Red Sonja.” The Red Sonja we all know? Created by Thomas and Smith. You can say, “Well, Ryan, this book takes Red Sonja and puts her in a steampunk setting. Should Mark Andreyko now be touted as “creator” of Red Sonja?!?!?”  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Why not?!?!?

Red Sonya has a very distinct look. Distinct attributes. Distinct character. Distinct costume. This was all taken, developed, and molded by Thomas and Smith into the Red Sonja we all know today. Do you you know what Howard’s Red Sonya was? The one that appeared in the very small story The Shadow of the Vulture?

Here: “It was a woman, dressed as von Kalmbach had not seen even the dandies of France dressed. She was tall, splendidly shaped, but lithe. From under a steel cap escaped rebellious tresses that rippled red gold in the sun over her compact shoulders. High boots of Cordovan leather came to her mid-thighs, which were cased in baggy breeches. She wore a shirt of fine Turkish mesh-mail tucked into her breeches. Her supple waist was confined by a flowing sash of green silk, into which were thrust a brace of pistols and a dagger, and from which depended a long Hungarian saber. Over all was carelessly thrown a scarlet cloak.”

The swashbuckling Red Sonya was NOT the character that we know. Read Shadow of the Vulture then go read the countless stories by Thomas and Windsor from the 1970’s. Even back in the Marvel days they would say “Based on the character by Robert E. Howard” but these were all times when companies like DC and Marvel didn’t care about “who created who”. In their eyes it was always their characters. In this case Thomas and Smith created this character for a licensed property and they didn’t go after the rights to Red Sonja. If they had? The character probably would have belonged to Marvel.

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is there’s nothing dedicated to these men who made Red Sonja what she is today. This nearly 50 year old character has been a major success for decades and they get zero credit. None. Zippo. Zilch. As Andreyko points out this is probably not a Dynamite problem but something that comes down from Red Sonja LLC.

So what does that mean? That means a dead producer can continue to get special thanks as well as the merchandiser for Red Sonja LLC. That means the creative team can get all of their credit. Dynamite’s Nick Barrucci, Juan Collado, Joe Rybandt, Matt Idelson, Anthony Marques, Kevin Ketner, Jason Ullmeyer, Geoff Harkins, Cathleen Heard, Alexis Persson, Chris Caniano, Rachel Kilbury, Brandon Dante Primavera, Rich Young, Alan Payne, and Pat O’Connell can all get credit for their positions at Dynamite. But the men who really created Red Sonja? They can’t get some sort of “thank you” or “special thanks” or “debt of gratitude.” It seems that no one at Marvel did this, no one at Red Sonja LLC cares, and Dynamite is probably just staying out of it – even though they truly have the power to just type out a, “Very Special Thank You to Roy and Barry.”

In a time where it is more important than ever to recognize who created the characters we’ve grown up with, Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith are completely unrecognized for the character they created. Click here to go read Shadow of the Vulture – then go read nearly any Red Sonja comic. You will truly see who came up with this character.

So I’m going to continue to boycott reviewing these issues even though this series AND the series by Amy Chu are pretty damn good. I’ll keep shouting this from the treetops until someone hears me. I’m just saying some sort of recognition would be very nice. As we all see from Bill Finger, it is never too late to do the right thing.


Have no clue what I’m talking about? Learn more about Red Sonja’s creation by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith in the video below:

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