I feel that the most critical step to really re-inventing those characters would be to get them away from Dynamite Entertainment.
I enjoy Gail Simone’s re-invention of Red Sonja and understand there’s a balancing act with the branding and appearance. But an ongoing thing with Dynamite Entertainment is that they stockpile old characters to use them in spinoffs, mash-ups, etc.
So far, at Dynamite, we’ve had:
- Steampunk Red Sonja in a skimpy scalemail bikini
- Red Sonja being stripped against her will covers
- Steampunk Red Sonja now with covers by sexy pinup artists
- The Black Tower – which is actually worse than it looks
- Swords of Sorrow – where every female lead was in bikini armor
I mean – these are the most recent spinoffs (one working with Dark Horse):
Furthermore, while these designs might be bold for Dynamite, they’re not really that bold when you step back and look.
Red Sonja is basically back to a sexier version of the outfit she in her very first appearance, Vampirella appeared in a space suit in March (and I remember seeing concept ideas to re-invent her wearing full body gear in the 90s) – and okay, the movie bombed but nobody thinks it’s because of what Lynn Carter wore as Dejah Thoris.
What would really be bold – is actually re-inventing these characters without anchoring them to bad branding and design decision made in 70s (or earlier). Red Sonja has changed far more than her costume has, and not updating her appearance to reflect that hampers the comic.
At the end of the day – the reason these properties got sold to Dynamite Entertainment and the reason this is the second time Red Sonja’s been re-invented since then is because the old branding isn’t speaking to audiences today.
So, a year ago I expressed that I was less than excited about Dynamite’s “commitment” to reinventing a bunch of heroines including Red Sonja as less they hyper-sexualized. Now to be fair, they release the new Volume 3 run… a whole six issues of it! (FYI, Volume 2 got 21 issues and Volume 1 got 81 issues before getting rebooted)
However starting next year they’re going to be starting a Volume 4 run! Want to see the amazingly creative ideas they’ve got to take the title in a whole new direction unlike anything else in comics?
No it’s Red Sonja the pinup model (by J Scott Campbell none the less) or Red Sonja / Game of Thrones crossover, it’s Red Sonja… in the battle bikini… in New York (a place where surely no other comic has ever been set!). It actually is. And they’re very proud of this creative costume decision! Nothing saves a comic that’s on it’s forth incarnation like a combination of what hasn’t worked twice before and New York!
Interesting Dejah Thoris and Vampirella also got their new looks cancelled after exactly six issues too… it’s almost like many publishers will set unrealistic expectations on some products so they can say they tried – the go back to a particular strategy regardless of how often it fails.
I cannot imagine how this industry could be connected to so much real life toxic behavior. It’s really such a mystery why there’s a huge demographic of fans who rage and the idea that women are not objects.
P.S. For those frantically typing something about how if it only got six issues it was probably sales and the concept deserved to be dropped – I would like those bring something to your attention: