The Red Sonja and Cub one-shot finds Red Sonja in Khitai, a vaguely oriental land stopping to rescue a young girl on the way to her wedding. Although Red Sonja wants to take the child home, the girl insists that she has to go forward in order to ensure peace between two rival families. Red Sonja consents and both mothers and trains the child to fight as they travel.
Zub creates two different pictures of strength here, showing them as complementary. Red Sonja is a straightforward warrior: If it needs fighting, she’ll do it. The “cub,” Kazuko, is on her way as a peace offering between clans, and she is determined to do her duty. Red Sonja, and quite possibly the readers, first dismiss her as “a political pawn…some kind of chattel.” Kazuko’s actions and choices soon make it clear that she has her own strength; she may be operating within and because of tradition, but she is making her own choices just as surely as the less tradition-bound warrior woman. The two learn from one another over the two days that they travel together.
Lau creates some of the most violent battle scenes I have yet seen in a Red Sonja book, with plenty of bright redblood supplied by Renee’s coloring. People don’t just die, they have their limbs cut off or are split open with blood splattering everywhere. He also portrays the complicated relationship between Sonja and her charge as Sonja teaches Kazuko to fight or carries her pig-aback through the snow. He creates a very pensive, nuanced personality for the warrior, and his buck-toothed, stubborn Kazuko is instantly loveable. The landscape is beautiful when present, generally lightly evoked rather than detailed, letting the focus be on Red Sonja and her charge.
This is a one shot worth getting, especially but not exclusively for fans of Red Sonja.