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A tale of two crossovers January 30, 2016

Posted by sjroby in Book reviews, Star Trek.
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cover80320-mediumcover80325-mediumSPOILERS!

There be spoilers in this reviews written in exchange for Netgalley advance e-copies of recent Star Trek/Green Lantern and Conan/Red Sonja crossovers. Be warned.

Crossovers are an eternal temptation in the comics biz, and Star Trek comics have been no exception. Various Star Trek characters have encountered the X-Men, Planet of the Apes, Doctor Who, Legion of Superheroes, and now Green Lantern. One lesson that seems to have been learned along the way: if you don’t have many issues to work with, don’t spend a lot of time on meet and greet/getting to know you stuff. Go straight to the action and let the characters fill each other in with a little dialogue along the way, and assume the reader knows enough already.

This one packs as much story and action into its limited amount of space as it can. You’ve got Green Lantern’s universe destroyed in an epic battle with Nekron, the surviving Lanterns dumped into an alternate universe (the current movie version of Star Trek), members of the Enterprise crew and assorted aliens getting power rings, battles involving Federation, Gorn, Romulan, and Klingon opponents alongside the Lanterns, and then the Enterprise crew and the Lanterns teaming up against Nekron on a zombie version of Vulcan. Not a lot of sitting around talking. The Trek side of the dialogue seems appropriate enough, and the art is quite good.

Definitely an alternate universe tale for both sides, because it ends with the Lanterns staying in the Trekverse and a lot of political turmoil in various unfriendly empires. Light and fast-paced enough to be reasonably entertaining even if you don’t like chocolate in your peanut butter.

Meanwhile, in the Hyborian Age…

Robert E. Howard created Conan as a brawling adventurer, mercenary, and, eventually, King in a long forgotten age. He created Red Sonya of Rogatine as a one-off character in a work of real world historical fiction. Roy Thomas, writer of the original 1970s Conan the Barbarian comics from Marvel, adapted Howard’s Sonya into Red Sonja, a warrior woman of Conan’s time who would have occasional encounters with him. She proved popular enough to get a solo run in Marvel Feature and then her own comic, though that didn’t last too long. She was brought back by Marvel for limited runs, had a series of novels, and a movie, then disappeared.

When Dark Horse brought the Conan comics back, they passed on the idea of reviving Red Sonja, so Dynamite brought her back, and with evident success. I haven’t been reading their series but I’m pretty sure they long ago surpassed the number of Marvel Red Sonja comics.

Red Sonja began as a Conan character, so a crossover is an easy proposition. Just have to have the rights owner and the comics publishers on board. No need to introduce the characters to each other or to each other’s world, as they already know all that, and the reader doesn’t need any introductions either. So, straight to the story.

The main problem here is that it’s a very familiar story. A bit of battling armies, a little debauchery, more battling, then up against a wizard and an old enemy. I feel like I’ve read this story quite a few times already. It’s done well enough but I’ve seen it all before.

One other quibble: these are the comic book versions of these characters. Howard’s Conan wore clothes pretty often, and his Sonya did as well. But the stereotypical image of these characters is still the same as they appeared in the early 1970s comics, Conan in a furry loincloth, Sonja in a chainmail bikini, both looking unprepared for a real fight. Marvel tried to present a more believable Sonja in a 1980s miniseries, but Dynamite took her back to the classic sexist look, and the artists have a field day drawing her body for the delight of… well, whoever reads comics and doesn’t have access to real women or Playboy magazines, I guess. It looks silly more than anything. But so does Conan, so what the heck. This would be a fun enough diversion for someone who used to read the comics years ago and wants a quick hit of nostalgia.

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