I love me a good Red Sonja story and Conan the Barbarian 24 is just that. You see, the best stories are those where Red Sonja and Conan work together. It makes for more interesting story telling an the results are wonderful. This also happens to be the first full-length comic that Red Sonja had appeared in. Later she appears in Kull and the Barbarians to reveal her origin.
Conan the Barbarian 24 is titled The Song of Red Sonja and it is basically about Sonja manipulating Conan into helping her steal an item. It starts off by having her dancing on a table-top in bar in her bare feet. Her dancing is so seductive that a large man tries to take her. Conan tries to defend her and ends up getting punched in the head. Soon the entire bar is fighting each other. Although Sonja didn’t have her sword or boots at the moment she did have a whip and uses it to instigate the fight further.
Upon leaving the two decide to take a dip in the stream. Sonja takes off her chain mail shirt because it is too heavy and swims topless. Conan looks at her bare breasts, becomes aroused and tries to have sex with Sonja. She implies that she might do it later if he helps her with a task. She needed Conan’s strength to help scale a tower filled with jewels.
The place is not unguarded however. Sorcery protects the place as a giant golden snake attacks them. Conan leaves without even taking any jewels, thinking that his prize will be Red Sonja. Instead she leaves on horseback, letting him know that he had been used.
One of the most interesting aspects of this issue is that Sonja is wearing a chain mail shirt and hot pants. This is how Marvel asked Frank Thorne to illustrate her as well. However he disagreed and decided to go with the sexier chain mail bikini instead. Because of Thorne’s decision, now the bikini outfit had become of the typical outfit associated with Red Sonja forever.
The artist Barry Windsor-Smith shows his talent in this comic. However it also shows how he favors an over abundance of lines over other types of shading such a stippling or even cross-hatching. Be sure to pick up Conan the Barbarian 24 so you can read it yourself. It’s a real collector’s item due to it’s early appearance of Red Sonja. Leave a comment with your thoughts.