The Dynamite Report #8: Jimmy Palmiotti Makes Red Sonja Invincible
Welcome back to The Dynamite Report! This May, Dynamite’s flagship heroine, Red Sonja, is getting a new series. The husband-and-wife duo, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, are co-writing The Invincible Red Sonja. They will also be joined by the artist known as Moritat, who will take on the pencils, inks, and colors. Additionally, Conner will provide the main covers for the series. Joseph Michael Linsner, Carla Cohen, Celina, and Frank Cho have also drawn covers for the upcoming series.
Palmiotti and Conner previously revitalized Harley Quinn as a solo character for DC. That’s also one of the main reasons why their Red Sonja run is already highly anticipated. Ahead of The Invincible Red Sonja #1’s launch in May, Palmiotti checked in to tell us what he and his creative partners have in mind for the She-Devil with a sword.
Why did you choose "Invincible" as the adjective for Red Sonja's new title?
Jimmy Palmiotti: The title has to do with events that happen during the series and the opening scene of issue 1. Amanda and I also wanted the book to stand out for the other series in stores by giving it a comic book type adjective that actually makes sense. The mystery is between the covers and fully explained by issue 4.
What was your first exposure to Red Sonja?
I was 12 years old and I picked Conan #23 off the newsstand near my home in Brooklyn and yes, I wish I bought 400 issues at the time. Who knew? I had been loving Conan and reading it monthly at the time. I am also a huge fan of Barry Winsor Smith and Roy Thomas and when Sonja first appeared, I was hooked from the first panel.
I remember wondering why there weren’t more female led titles coming out in comics and was super excited when she got her own series. I still own that comic… though it is in rough shape. I think she was one of the first characters that gave me the idea later in life to create and write other strong female characters. Painkiller Jane is Sonja with more bandages and less red hair in a different era.
What were your favorite Red Sonja stories?
I will say any Roy Thomas worked on and I was in love with Frank Thorne’s visuals of the character, so those are my go to books and I have them in issues, collections and even artist’s editions. I think her first appearance and flirtation with Conan was my favorite though. The introduction was just perfect. A true classic.
What is it about Red Sonja's character and appearance that resonates with you?
Visually she is a representation of authority and as you get to know the character and what she overcame, you can only like her more.
Sonja still has that sense of wonder with new situations, but like a calculating warrior, navigates herself in a cautious way until she feels it’s time to draw the sword. I feel truly that she must live in the moment and not make her life about future plans in such unstable times. She is a very present character.
I also like a character that you can mess with their look to match the surroundings they are in. She is not a character that lives in one costume.
Does your Red Sonja series continue from the previous incarnations? Or does it stand alone?
This story is part of the journey of her life. We wanted to make it a stand alone simply because there is really no single timeline this character follows. There are so many series and miniseries with Sonja, we wouldn’t know where to start. So we created a stand alone that anyone new can jump on, but diehard fans will be able to get right into at the same time.
The inclusion of "pirates, mermaids, and princesses" suggests that this Red Sonja book will take place at sea. Is that a correct assumption?
If you are talking about the first issue, then yes…after that the story takes place in a kingdom and the city around it with a backdrop of an active volcano and many, many weird things happening. Amanda and I are treating the book like our one big chance to write the character, so we are putting everything we can into this series. It will have something for everyone with visuals that will look better than anything people have seen in years, supplied by the amazing Moritat, who pencils, inks and colors the book.
Can you tease some of the new characters that Sonja will meet in her new series?
Right out of the gate we meet the beautiful Princess Zaria – who is on a mission to merge two kingdoms, and the ruthless Captain Blake, who is helping Sonja with passage across the sea while they plunder any ship in sight.
As each issue moves on, we meet a few new characters each issue and all of them come into play as Sonja navigates the world around her.
Will there be any familiar faces from Sonja's past?
Not a one. Sonja is it. New land, new cast, bigger body count.
What's the setup for Invincible Red Sonja? And where will the story take us?
The setup is simple, Sonja gets into a bit of a mess and becomes a bodyguard of a princess while she is visiting another kingdom to unite the two in a peaceful way.
The story takes the reader from the high seas to the lowlands and kingdom below an active volcano. It’s about greed, lust. and power and how it corrupts those around it.
It is a classic story where we get to see Sonja in quiet moments bonding and learning about others’ cultures until something happens where she becomes a major player.
Tell us about reuniting with Moritat for this project. And can you elaborate on your collaboration with him?
I have worked with him on All Star Western for a few years and our last collaboration was the graphic novel Killing Time in America for Paperfilms. When we were asked to write this Red Sonja series for Dynamite, the first person we went after to do the book was Moritat.
We never thought we would be able to get him, but the timing was perfect and it helps that he loves the character as well. We all spoke on the phone a few times talking about what the look of the book should be and how we saw it being represented and paced.
Moritat decided that control was an issue and took on the role of penciler, inker and colorist. Because of this, this series is his best work ever. He will forever be an influencer, like Barry Smith and Frank Thorne after this series. His work is beautiful, detailed and his storytelling clear and visual as hell. We really got lucky getting him.
Will Amanda continue to contribute covers to the series going forward?
Amanda is doing all 6 covers with Paul Mounts on color and these are the main covers that reflect the story inside. You know, like classic comics, showing a scene and blowing it up. I wish they would bring that back more.
Is this a limited series, or an ongoing Sonja series?
It is limited with the promise if we are interested to continue if we like. Honestly, we are waiting to see how it is received before making a decision like that. I don’t believe in wasting peoples time if it’s not embraced.
What's your favorite moment or page from the first issue?
I love the last page, which I really cannot talk about without ruining the next issue. I will say when you write something in a few sentences in a script and then a truly talented artist gets their hands on it and makes it 100 times better than you imagined, it really is one of the finest gifts that doing comics can give you.
Finally, do you have any closing thoughts for the fans that tease the story ahead?
Pre-order the book. It will be selling out and your retailers need to know you are interested. I always feel bad when people complain to me they missed an issue and I always tell them the same thing. A retailer loves nothing more than a pre-order.
As far as the story: bloody adventure, lusty characters, monsters, mermaids, pirates, kings and kingdoms, underground lairs, master thieves, plenty of wine and baths. Need I say more?
Additionally, Dynamite Entertainment has passed along the solicitations from June 2021, including covers and the description for The Invincible Red Sonja #2.
“Our award-winning duo of AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI continue Red Sonja’s mission to protect a young (and, shall we say, precocious?) princess as her wedding day arrives. But as the preparations for the festivities continue, a coveted icon of the kingdom is stolen and its protector, the king’s wizard, sets a bounty Red Sonja cannot resist. The strikingly beautiful sequential art of MORITAT, another killer cover by AMANDA CONNER and PAUL MOUNTS… all this can be YOURS!”
The Invincible Red Sonja #1 will hit comic book stores on Wednesday. May 5. The second issue will follow on Wednesday, June 2. You can check out the rest of the upcoming covers below.
Are you looking forward to Red Sonja’s new series? Also, what do you think about the art and covers? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle
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