Monday, April 13, 2009

Marvel Unbound - Spider-Man/Red Sonja

The Spider-Man/Red Sonja crossover miniseries from Marvel and Dynamite Entertainment was loads of fun! The miniseries, written by Michael Avon Oeming and drawn by Mel Rubi, is fantastic! I have been a fan of Oeming since discovering him through his collaboration with Bendis on Powers. I enjoyed his writing on the Ares miniseries and love his work with Bryan J.L. Glass on Mice Templar. He turns in a solid story here, continuing the struggle of Kulan Gath’s attempts to take over the Earth with magic.

Originally debuting in the pages of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comic back in 1972, Kulan Gath soon became a Red Sonja rogue. In 1979, Red Sonja joined Spidey in Marvel Team-Up #79 to battle Kulan Gath in what amounts to a single-issue version of the story retold and expanded on by Oeming and Rubi here two decades later.

But it’s not just Kulan Gath playing in this sandbox. Some classics from Spidey’s rogues gallery show up, too, like Scorpion, Lizard, Hobgoblin, and Venom. Venom’s actually crucial to t
he story as Kulan Gath takes control of the symbiote, eventually ripping it from Eddie Brock and becoming Kulan Venom. Joe Robertson is used to fine effect, as well as J. Jonah Jameson in a bit part. Mary Jane in the lynchpin of the five-issue arc just as she was in the original Marvel Team-Up tale. A modern-day Red Sonja herself, I imagine she’s a fun character to write, and Oeming seems to have a good time using her here.

There are some nice extras for being a fairly slim trade paperback collection. Michael Turner’s original covers for all five issues are included, along with his variant covers for issues #1 and #2. His Red Sonja is stunning and sexy. You also get two pages of Rubi’s character sketches – a full page of Spidey, plus a page of MJ, Red Sonja, and Venom. The best extra in this collection, however, is the inclusion of Marvel Team-Up #79. And if you’re not familiar with this Chris Claremont and John Byrne written, co-plotted, and penciled story, you’re in for a real treat! In fact, I would seriously recommend you read this story in the back of the collection first, before reading the update by Oeming and Rubi.

In short, with Spider-Man/Red Sonja you get a fun, expanded update on a classic Marvel tale, some gorgeous art (and eye candy), and a bonus from-the-vaults story by a couple of legends reprinted to boot, all for under 15 dollars! That’s good stuff!

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