Saturday, February 21, 2009

Red Sonya

I am, of late, re-reading Lord of Samarcand and Other Adventure Tales of the Old Orient by Robert E. Howard. Currently, I am reading "The Shadow of the Vulture".

The story tells of a siege laid across Europe by Suleyman the Magnificent to hunt down Gottfried von Kalmbach, who made an attempt on the Sultan's life.

It's a terrific yarn. Mikhal Oglu, whose demeanor defines the title, leads the burning of villages and a great siege on Vienna, seeking von Kalmbach's head.
"Before the waving vulture wings the road thronged with wailing fugitives; behind them it ran red and silent, strewn with mangled shapes that cried no more. The killers were not a half-hour behind him when Gottfried von Kalmbach rode his reeling stallion through the gates of Vienna. The people on the walls had heard the wailing for hours, rising awfully on the wind, and now afar they saw the sun flicker on the points of lances as the horsemen rode in amongst the masses of fugitives toiling down from the hills into the plain which girdles the city. They saw the play of naked steel like sickles among ripe grain."

I not only love that paragraph, I may be a little in love with it.

But on to something of a point...

I bring this up, because the story contains a character named Red Sonya of Rogatino.

In 1973, writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith would adapt this story in Conan the Barbarian #23, with Conan of Cimmeria replacing Gottfried von Kalmbach and the setting was changed accordingly. As such, Howard's Red Sonya of Rogatino would become Red Sonja of Hyrkania, who we all know and love.

This is interesting to me because a new movie Red Sonja is scheduled. Other people seem to have stronger opinions of Rose McGowan in the part than I can muster. She's such better casting - and sexier, by God! - than Brigitte Nielsen ever could have been, so it's hard for me to feel too negative, but she does seem a bit small for the role, doesn't she? Well... Movie magic, right?

The suggestion seems to be that it will be an origin story...

Always with the origin stories? Ferreal?


Had it been me, I'd have rethought both the Howard and the Thomas/Windsor-Smith versions of The Shadow of the Vulture, used the extra space in and around the 40 page story and used much of that to make the story about Red Sonja rather than Gottfried von Kalmbach or Conan... I'd fall closer to von Kalmbach for my model of the character in that role in the story, however.

It'd be a kickass movie, I swear.

Hopefully this other one will be, too.

UPDATE: For those of you interested in even more information on all of this, definitely check out Famous First Fridays: Red Sonja's Metal Bikini.


Keith said...

I've read Conan, but I haven't really read any of her though. I need to.

Neil Sarver said...

I need to pick up the books of classic Roy Thomas-era stuff one day soon. I remember always enjoying the hell out of it.

Taranaich said...

"The Shadow of the Vulture" isn't just awesome for Sonya, but for Gottfried himself. He's a really fun, loveable old drunk. Mikhal Oglu was such a badass villain, too.

Neil Sarver said...

I agree. It's an absolutely terrific story with a host of great characters, and some especially terrific action.

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