Red Sonja and Jungle Girl #1 is a tie-in to Dynamite’s summer Swords of Sorrow event featuring all their female characters from this comic’s heroines to Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars, Vampirella, and even obscure Shadow villain, Black Sparrow. It gives readers their first look at the character of Jana the Jungle Girl since Swords of Sorrow #1 and also answers the question about what happened to Red Sonja after she fought Dejah Thoris in Swords of Sorrow #2. But writer Marguerite Bennett and artist Mirka Andolfo ensure that this comic isn’t mere connective tissue until the next issue of Swords of Sorrow drops with Sonja’s usual quick wit firing on all cylinders, some great comic misunderstandings, and fast fight scenes and beautiful jungle vistas from Andolfo. They also introduce readers to the pre-Bronze Age world of Jungle Girl, and how the Prince and his army are doing more than trying to make heroines kill each other.
Even though their first meeting is of the predictable “fight without asking questions” mold, Bennett creates a big sister/little sister bond between Red Sonja and Jungle Girl. Sonja helps Jana make sense of the special spear (in this case) that she was given by the Traveller and uses conversation and logic to forge an alliance in a scene where Andolfo uses two rows of opposing panels to show how they go from enemies to reluctant friends. The language gap between Jungle Girl, who is from a pre-literate society, and Red Sonja, who is from the purple prose of Robert E. Howard creates some great wordplay gags, and later in the issue, Sonja even starts giving Jungle Girl tips on using quips in battle. Bennett explores both the warrior and protector sides of these heroines in Red Sonja/Jungle Girl #1 crafting them into well-balanced people. Sadly, the villains of the comic only get to fight, boast, and act as cannon fodder in one of two kinetic double page spreads from Andolfo. Hopefully, the baddies will get more time to shine (or bring darkness) in subsequent issues.
Artist Mirka Andolfo brings a sense of energy and craftsmanship to Red Sonja and Jungle Girl #1 that begins with
Andolfo’s best work comes in the initial fight between Red Sonja and Jungle Girl. Instead of using a static, pinup splash page, she creates a true spread and utilizes a series of snapshot panels similar to Carmine Infantino’s work on The Flash in the 1960s to showcase Red Sonja and Jungle Girl’s speed and tenacity. And she channels this excitement for the other fight scenes.
One-dimensional villains aside, Red Sonja and Jungle Girl #1 is a funny, pretty comic with plenty of fighting and friendship. It enhances the Swords of Sorrow event by developing Jungle Girl as more than the girl in the bikini who runs after dinosaurs, and Marguerite Bennett’s dialogue helps cement a real bond between her and Red Sonja. Plus it’s also a tour de force in how to tell a female fronted sword and sorcery tale from Mirka Andolfo.