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This week take a look at some of last week’s new releases: a new dawn for Red Sonja #1 (Dynamite), while another new twist on the vampire genre can be found in Day Men #1 (BOOM!). This is Graphic Bits.
The problem with finding a wider appeal for Red Sonja has always been that her perceived image is that of a one-note heroine drawn for a specific demographic. Indeed, the cheesecake covers that have graced the front of Dynamite’s many variants over the better part of the last decade have done very little to dissuade us of the notion that a warrior in a metal bikini is not the sort of thing that sophisticated modern comics connoisseurs should digest. Which is precisely why the character was ripe for a writer like Gail Simone (or in this case, someone exactly like Gail Simone) to take a crack at the She-Devil with a Sword. Simone has consistently proven to be a dab hand at writing for female characters, a mark of her work on Wonder Woman, Secret Six, Batgirl and in particular, Bird of Prey. Simone gives us a terrific introduction to the character, allowing us to ease into her take, one that takes us back to Sonja’s earliest days. What characterises this take is a decent dose of self-deprecating humour, another of Simone’s trademarks, and it just makes for a fun adventure with a strong, smart, funny and occasionally hungover hero. Artist Walter Geovani is no stranger to the character, having previously worked with Brian Reed and Eric Stephen Trautmann’s respective versions of the character for Dynamite. It’s going to be great to get to see him cut loose on some battles in the next issue. This is also one of those rare instances where its worth checking out the variant covers, as there are some beautiful takes from all-star women artists Colleen Doran, Jenny Frison, Fiona Staples, Amanda Conner and regular collaborator Nicola Scott worth investing in.
Day Men #1 – BOOM! Studios, Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson (writers) Brian Stelfreeze (artist). Rating: ★★★½
Vampires are so hot right now, an irony that is not lost on the undead among us. Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson take the mob thriller and mix it in with the supernatural, introducing us to David Reid, a vampire mob enforcer who does what his bosses can’t: get about during those sunshiny hours of the day. When one of the “family” is killed, retribution is coming, and it looks like Reid will be stuck in the middle of a war he may not live to see the end of. The interesting twist is still characterised by a sense of the familiar, albeit more with the opera surrounding mafia sagas rather than the vampire bits. Yet we don’t seem to be getting the whole story yet, and the tantalising question posed by a rogue poacher offers enough of a hook. “Is it rewarding to be a bitch for the undead? I’ve long wondered what the benefits are of such a position”. Treated with disdain by vampire kind (called a “Sundog” by rivals), Reid is already a layer-cake waiting to be gobbled up by exposition. However, as clever as the premise is, the major selling point of Day Men comes from Brian Stelfreeze, not seen on a longer project since 2005’s Matador for WildStorm. Comics Alliance presents a fascinating read about the reascension of the comic book artist as a star, singling out BOOM! for taking a step forward for making Day Men a flagship under the Stelfreeze marquee. As the article goes on to say, it is a time when readers are rediscovering the “other” strength of comic books as a form of art. For the art is truly excellent, a sexy combination of slick characters and vividly dark colours. With Day Men, Steelfreeze might have just invented vampire mafia noir.