When I was a kid, like pretty much all my friends, I hated the artwork of Frank Thorne. Well, recently, I picked up a batch of his run on Red Sonja at a comic fair, and, by Crom, could I have been a bigger idiot? This is beautiful stuff! Especially good is the first issue of Sonja's regular mag ( she was in Marvel Feature prior to this ): a mini- epic by Roy Thomas & Clare Noto called " The Blood Of The Unicorn ".
After having had to kill her lame horse, our heroine wanders through the forest, until she comes across this scene:
Sonja, being the original fiery redhead, leaps into the fray to rescue the ( male ) unicorn, leading to the first of some pretty unavoidable sexual imagery. But not before our more than slightly obsessive villain has managed to get the unicorn's horn from off it's head.
Andar meanwhile, is busy glugging down the immortality potion made from the unicorn's horn:
Clearly, Andar is an only child. If he'd had siblings, someone might've taught him to share nicely. Anyway, having successfully whipped up the spectacularly dumb villagers into doing his dirty work for him, he manages to track down Sonja & her new friend ( just near the Argossean border, for those consulting their atlas' ).
Sonja is rapidly outnumbered, and knocked unconscious, but, just when all seems lost:
Then there's a classic piece of Roy Thomas writing:
Before the bittersweet ending:
What makes this a great story is firstly the characterization: Red Sonja actually changes throughout the process of the story, from the man-hating, oath spouting harridan she's been all too often, to show she's actually got a bit of depth. Also the villain is given real reason for doing what he does. and is as three dimensional as the heroine. And the art is genuinely beautiful. as Thorne's art is on the whole run. His later work, particularly Ghita of Alizar, (which ran in Warren's 1984 / 1994 magazine ) is more accomplished, but that strip, to me, was always really too close to pornography to be effective as actual stories. Here, Sonja is sexy obviously, but she's also a real, living character. It'll be interesting to see the new movie.
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