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For the movies, see Red Sonja (1985 movie) and Red Sonja (2024 movie).

Red Sonja, "warrior woman out of majestic Hyrkania", was created by Roy Thomas (writer) and Barry Smith (pencils, inks, and color). She in made her début in "The Shadow of the Vulture" and "The Song of Red Sonja" in Marvel Comics Conan the Barbarian 23-24 (1972).

She was loosely based on the character Red Sonya of Rogatino in Robert E. Howard's short story "The Shadow of the Vulture" (The Magic Carpet Magazine January 1934). Thomas rewrote this as a Conan story for the Marvel comic, reinventing REH’s Red Sonya, making her a heroine of Conan’s Hyborian Age, tweaking the spelling of her name, and replacing Sonya's guns (and sword) with (only) a sword.

"The Song of Red Sonja" won the 1973 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards: Best Individual Story (Dramatic). In Conan the Barbarian, two panels were censored by John Romita. The uncensored story was reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition 1 15 (1977), where it was recolored by Glynis Wein and the artwork was slightly cropped to fit the page format.

The She-Devil with a Sword has become the archetypical example of the fantasy figure of a fierce and stunningly beautiful female barbarian who typically wears sexy, but skimpy armor.

Biographical sketch[]

The origin of Red Sonja, "The Day of the Sword", first appeared in Kull and the Barbarians #3 by Roy Thomas, Doug Moench, and Howard Chaykin. This story was later redrawn by Dick Giordano and Terry Austin for The Savage Sword of Conan #78.

Red Sonja lived with her family in a humble home in the Western Hyrkanian steppes. When she had just turned 17 years old, a group of cruel mercenaries killed her father Ivor, mother, and two younger brothers before burning down their house and all their possessions. She survived but was raped by the leader of the group. Answering her cry for revenge, the red goddess Scathach appeared to her, and instilled in her incredible skill in the handling of swords and other weapons on the condition that she would never lay with a man unless he defeated her in fair combat.

Physical appearance[]

Most artists depict Red Sonja wearing a very brief bikini-like costume of scale mail. As originally drawn by Barry Smith for "The Shadow of the Vulture" and "The Song of Red Sonja" in Conan the Barbarian issues 23 and 24 (1973), she did not have as full a figure and dressed a little more conservatively, in a chainmail long-sleeved shirt and red cloth (maybe leather) shorts.

As told by Roy Thomas in the introduction of Red Sonja Adventures Volume 1 (Dynamite Entertainment) Spanish artist Esteban Maroto submitted an uncommissioned illustration to him when he was editing the magazine Savage Sword of Conan where he redesigned the character and for the first time showed her wearing what would become her famous costume, the silver “metal bikini”, which resembled other fantasy costumes that other Maroto heroines sported in the 1970’s. This illustration was printed for the first time in black and white in Savage Sword of Conan #1, was later reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition #15 colored but poorly reproduced, and finally restored and colored by José Villarrubia as an alternate cover for the Dynamite Entertainment edition of Red Sonja #2. Maroto drew her in this costume for her first solo adventure in Savage Sword of Conan #1, and John Buscema drew her in that costume in the same magazine. Buscema drew her again in that costume in issues 43, 44, and 48 of Conan the Barbarian (1974) and Dick Giordano in the first issue of Marvel Feature (1975) before Frank Thorne took over from issue 2 (1976). For some reason, her "bikini" armor proved popular, becoming well known through the paintings of Boris Vallejo and others.

Traits and skills[]

As noted above, Red Sonja has incredible skill in the handling of swords and other weapons.

Stories featuring Red Sonja[]

These are the comic books that have featured Red Sonja as a main character:

  • Marvel Feature 1-7 (Marvel Comics) (November, 1975 - November, 1976).
  • Red Sonja (1st series) 1-15 (Marvel Comics) (1977-1979).
  • Red Sonja (2nd series) 1-2 (Marvel Comics) (1983).
  • Red Sonja (3rd series) 1-13 (Marvel Comics) (1983-1986).
  • Red Sonja The Movie 1-2 (Marvel Comics) (1985).
  • Red Sonja: Scavenger Hunt (Marvel Comics) (1995).
  • Red Sonja in 3-D (Blackthorne) (1998).
  • Red Sonja: A Death in Scarlet (Cross Plains) (1999).
  • Red Sonja (New series) 0-present (Dynamite Entertainment) (2005).

In addition, she has been featured in solo stories in the following publications:

  1. Issue 48, "Episode!", Roy Thomas (w), John Buscema (p), Dick Giordano (i).
  1. Issue 1, "Red Sonja", Roy Thomas (w), Esteban Maroto (p), Ernie Chan/Neal Adams (i).
  2. Issue 23, "Wizards of the Black Sun," Roy Thomas/Clair Noto (w), Frank Thorne (a).
  3. Issue 45, "Master of Shadows," Christie Marx (w), John Buscema (p), Tony DeZuñiga (i).
  4. Issue 78, "The Day of the Sword," Roy Thomas/Doug Moench (w), Dick Giordano/Terry Austin (a).
  5. Issue 157, "Infant Terrible," Bruce Jones (w/a).
  6. Issue 169, "The Endless Stair," Peter B. Gillis (w), Steven Carr (p), Armando Gil (i).
  7. Issue 171, "The Waif and the Warrior," Jim Valentino (w), Steven Carr (p), Josef Rubinstein (i).
  8. Issue 187, "Red Sonja Queels the Song of the Siren," Marie Javins/Steve Buccellato (w), Alfredo Alcala (a).
  9. Issue 192, "On the Road of Kings," Roy Thomas/Dann Thomas (w), Tony DeZuñiga (a).
  10. Issue 194, "The Road to Zamboula," Roy Thomas (w), Tony DeZuñiga (a).
  11. Issue 195, "Swordless in Zamboula," Roy Thomas (w), Tony DeZuñiga (a).
  12. Issues 207-10, "The Road to Zanadu," Roy Thomas/Dann Thomas (w), Del Barras /Reggie Jones/ Kirk Etienne (a).
  13. Issue 229, "A Lady for the Burning," Roy Thomas]] (w), Howard Simpson (p), Rober Quijano (i).
  14. Issue 230-31, "The Ring of Ikribu," 1/4 Roy Thomas (w), Esteban Maroto (a).
  1. Issue 2, "She-devil with a Sword," Roy Thomas (w), Howard Chaykin (a).
  2. Issue 3, "The Day of the Sword," Roy Thomas/Doug Moench (w), Howard Chaykin (a).

She has appeared a "guest" alongside Conan in the series:

  • Conan the Barbarian
  • The Savage Sword of Conan
  • Conan the King

And with Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up #79 and Wolverine in What if? Vol. 2, #16. In the former, the spirit of Sonja possesses the body of Mary Jane Watson to face her old enemy Kulan Gath. In the later, Sonja is defeated by Wolverine and becomes his lover.[1]

Marvel Feature #4 was reprinted in the book The Superhero Women edited by Stan Lee. She was featured on the cover in a painting by John Romita marching among Marvel Comics's characters.

Sonja has been featured in several novels by David C. Smith and Richard L. Tierney with covers by Boris Vallejo:

  1. 1 The Ring of Ikribu (Ace 1981) (Adapted to comics by Roy Thomas and Esteban Maroto in The Savage Sword of Conan issues 230-31)
  2. 2 Demon Night (Ace 1982)
  3. 3 When Hell Laughs (Ace 1982)
  4. 4 Endithor's Daughter (Ace 1982)
  5. 5 Against the Prince of Hell (Ace 1983)
  6. 6 Star of Doom (Ace 1983)
Red Sonja Chronology
Previous Appearance:
Begin the Red Sonja Chronology Next Appearance:
Conan the Barbarian #23

She and Conan team up in Dark Horse and Dynamite 's Conan/Red Sonja:

In other media[]

She was played by Brigitte Nielsen in the 1985 film Red Sonja, which also starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Kalidor (a Conan clone). The film was directed by Richard Fleischer. It performed poorly at the box office.

Avi Lerner and Danny Dimbort's Millennium Films and Randall Emmett and George Furla's Emmett/Furla Films announced they had acquired the rights to produce and distribute a feature film based on the “Red Sonja” property as well as the allied and ancillary rights. The picture was to be produced by Randall Emmett, George Furla and Avi Lerner as well as executive produced by M. Dal Walton III, Luke Lieberman, Nick Barrucci, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short and Boaz Davidson. In the past, the property was out to writers and directors.

A new adaptation of Red Sonja not based on the original film is currently in the works. It was going to be produced by Robert Rodriguez, and directed by Douglas Aarniokoski (with considerable participation of Rodriguez). Rose McGowan was set to have the lead role in the film, starring as Red Sonja. Kulan Gath was going to played a major role in the movie. The release date was recently reported to be late 2009 with a teaser poster being released which shows Red Sonja with her sword atop of a pile of skulls. Shortly after, another teaser poster was released with a 2010 release date. A script was confirmed to have been written and filming was commence in early 2010, but these plans were squelched by injuries that permanently damaged the mobility and strength of her right arm.[5] In a February 2011 interview, film producer Avi Lerner stated that Simon West was hired to direct the film and also mentioned Amber Heard as the frontrunner to star in the lead role.[6] On February 26, 2015, Christopher Cosmos was hired to write the film's script.[7] According to Deadline, Millennium Films will finance and produce a new Red Sonja movie with Avi Lerner and Joe Gatta producing alongside with Cinelou Films’ Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon.[8]

Paula Tiso provided the character's voice in the 2016 animated film Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues.

Red Sonja makes an appearance on the Conan TV series, in the episode, "Red Sonja". She is on a mission to rescue a young wizard who was kidnapped. When one of Conan's partners sarcastically asks why the village didn't send their best warriors, Sonja replies, "They did send their best warrior, mulebrain!" She was played by Angelica Bridges.

There was a planned Red Sonja TV series in the works with Sable as Red Sonja.[9]

The character has been parodied in numerous forms including the comic book series, such as Red Shetland, where the title character is a humanoid mare in the archetypical armor bikini.

Another parody of Red Sonja is realized in the form of Red Sophia, a character from Dave Sim's black & white independent comic book Cerebus.

Beverly Switzler, a character from Howard the Duck, is featured on the cover of Howard the Duck (Volume 1) #1 wearing a scale mail bikini similar to the outfit worn by Red Sonja.

Red Sonja will star in her first video game, which will be developed by F84 Games, with planned release in winter 2016/2017. Gail Simone will serve as the game's story writer.[10]

The Song of Red Sonja[]

"When the plundering hordes of Yezdigerd, scourge of Hyrkania, hammered at the doors of thrice-doomed Makkalet... she was there.

When Khengor, conqueror of the east, set the night ablaze in Black Khitai and made a pagan temple from the skulls of his fallen foes... she was there.

And when the black spectre of world-devouring Turan looms dark above the Hyborian world?

Aye, perhaps she'll be there then, as well...!

All the world's a gore-rimmed sea,

Lo, the devil laughs with glee.

Come and dance then, you with me,

come and caper wild and free.

With red blood those fires are lit,

Hades' smoke is tinged with it".

-- The Song of Red Sonja

External links[]

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Red Sonja. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Conan Wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.