OK, so the issue came out today, and it totally lived up to my expectations. On top of the recap I already posted…
After Gath sends his people after Sonja, her cop buddy Max finds her in the Harlem bar first, crashed out drunk with her new drinking buddies. I’m guessing he found her pretty damn quickly, as six foot tall redheads (as he describes her to the bar lady) aren’t that commonplace in Harlem. Some time has elapsed, though, as the bar lady asks if Max is settling her tab, which is … $837?!? And all her’s, apparently. They show the receipt … Sonja sank 279 beers by herself. That’s fucking hardcore, man.
Sidenote: when Max is describing Sonja, he doesn’t start talking about metal bikinis. It’s interesting but since the ‘naked lady’ stuff at the beginning of #1, Amy Chu hasn’t mentioned Sonja’s scanty outfit at all. Even Luis doesn’t comment on it when he challenges her to the armwrestle, his buddy just calls her ‘the pretty lady’, and while she attracts a bit of attention on the Harlem streets, nobody takes a second look at her in the bar. I get the sense that Amy’s doing everything she can to take the spotlight off Sonja’s costume; in early interviews, she acknowledged Sonja was back in those togs but skilfully dodged around questions like ‘So isn’t Sonja’s butt going to get cold on the subway?’ I think the costume change in Marguerite Bennett’s series was a resounding failure, so Dynamite have restored Sonja’s classic look, but Amy’s focussing on the story. Even Carlos Gomez has slightly played down the T&A shots in this issue, at least while Sonja’s in public. There’s a big difference between this issue and #0, where there are at least 3 panels of Sonja leaping into action, with her loincloth flapping around and her buttcheeks on full display.
Anyway, I digress.
Gath’s agents turn up … the two mammoths from the mental hospital scene and some Matrix-looking agents. They accuse the barwoman of harbouring an illegal alien or some such, she calls them out and brings up the Matrix thing (I think the lead agent’s even called ‘Smith’). One of the big guys goes to grab Sonja but Luis wakes up, and that’s where we came in with the barfight.
After Max and Sonja escape, they jump on Max’ motorbike and speed away, with Max telling Sonja to stop moving around and her yelling what fun she’s had. Don’t forget this woman knocked back 279 beers by herself not long before. No sign of a hangover … not only that but she stays on the back of a speeding bike without holding on AND in the fight, she chucked a table across a bar into a big goon with one hand. Fucking hardcore, man. Conan’s got nothing on this. She left that stolen jacket in the bar though, how careless.
Then we have a few pages in Max’ apartment – he wakes up with a bad head, saying he didn’t even have anything to drink. Sonja’s sat there, fresh as a daisy, butt naked and enthusing about the ‘magic tablet’ (TV). She’s managed to work the remote by herself, another sign of her smarts. Chu talked in interviews about how Sonja was a warrior and not an intellectual but she’s so much cannier here than she was under Gail Simone.
Max is aghast at Sonja’s nakedosity and throws her a robe, with her being confused about why being in the buff is unacceptable. REALLY funny interplay here. We learn more about Max’ background … his parents died when he was a baby and he was found by another family during a blackout like the one in #0, which preceded Sonja’s arrival. Looks like Max might be from Sonja’s own world…
Max was never really accepted at school but turned to magic, learning a neat trick with a coin, spinning it fast enough to disappear. Probably the weakest page of the comic here, I’m not sure why it needed a whole page but I imagine this coin thing will turn out to be important later on. Sonja’s contempt for Max’ magical ability is amusing though.
Finally, Max tells Sonja to take a bath, she reeks. We get a really funny panel with Sonja in the tub, rhapsodising about the ability to get hot water without a fire; the bathroom door is wide open and Max is desperately trying to look elsewhere. Max says he’s taking the garbage out but suggests Sonja might want to think about closing the door.
Last page: Gath’s agents have found Max outside on the street and are chasing him!!! Those two big gorillas have bandages around their heads from Sonja’s double noggin knocker.
Next issue, Sonja will inevitably spring to the rescue. One of the preview panels on Carlos’ page shows her battling the agents (in her leather jacket and chainmail bikini) with Max in the background (still with his garbage bag). Intriguingly, she’s wielding a sword … wonder whether Max keeps one in the ironing cupboard. It looks like a katana, rather than Sonja’s usual broadsword. She’s meant to get her weapons back in #3 but I wonder if Carlos had to go back and change this panel.
Overall, a fucking great issue … by far the best in this series and it stomps all over anything Gail Simone did with the character. This is definitely the flat-out funniest Sonja issue I’ve ever read and the action was amazing for being so brief. Like I said elsewhere, a lesser writer would just show Sonja throwing a few punches but Amy’s much more imaginative.
Highest recommendation. Chu and Gomez had better stay on this comic for a while.