Into the Sonja-verse: Too Many Sonjas Makes Sonjaversal #1 a Messy Read

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Sonjaversal 1

While I appreciate that Dynamite Comics is embracing the whole "many worlds" theory and integrating their diverse titles, the journey has led to a state of crossover fatigue, the nadir of which may actually be manifest in this new miniseries, Sonjaversal, in which Red Sonja, the infamous She-Devil with a Sword, crosses paths with... Orange Sonja.

Yes, Orange Sonja, herself fresh from watching a mech battle a dinosaur -- who were Purple Sonja and Green Sonja, respectively. And, yes, color-coded lettering is included in the story.

All the Sonjas are, apparently, agents of The Divine, and indeed when we meet Red Sonja (no color coding necessary), we are told the backstory of her own oath for power from a god, and the cost with which it came -- namely that she can't lie with another man unless he first beats her in fair combat.

The Sonjas are brought into confrontation by some goddess-like figure who is also Sonja. She brought the mech and the dino to Orange Sonja's future-world to battle to the death just so Orange could see it as a warning. Apparently it's because those two had become "prideful, arrogant, and lazy," which she accuses Orange of having become as well. (Granted, Orange Sonja is found in penthouse swimming pool in a silver bikini straight out of Barbarella, but nevertheless...)

Orange and Red come together as the chapter closes, but we get so many non sequitur flashbacks that it simply becomes too mentally draining to try to piece it all together. Christopher Hastings takes a fun concept -- obviously lifted from Into the Spider-Verse and Dark Nights: Death Metal -- and manages to mold it into a shapeless muddle, with a narrative no one can follow and a plot driver nobody cares about. It doesn't even take that long to fall apart, with Orange Sonja looking directly at the mecha-vs-kaiju battle, then acting like she is hearing about it a panel later and seeing it as though for the first time the panel after that. But at least most of the interior artwork is nicely done by Pasquale Qualano and Jordi Perez, and the Jae Lee cover is as exquisite as one would expect. Overall, to paraphrase from Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here is... failure to communicate."

2.5 / 5.0