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REVIEW: 'Stray Dogs' #1 by Tony Fleecs, Trish Forstner, and Brad Simpson

 Lady and the Tramp meets Silence of the Lambs. It's scary being the new dog. Sophie can’t remember what happened. She doesn’t know how she ended up in this house. She doesn’t recognize any of these other dogs. She knows something terrible happened, but she just…can’t…recall...WAIT! Where’s her lady? A five-issue Don Bluth-style suspense thriller by My Little Pony comic artists TONY FLEECS and TRISH FORSTNER, STRAY DOGS is Lady and the Tramp meets Silence of the Lambs.   STRAY DOGS #1 Writer: Tony Fleecs Artist: Trish Forstner, Brad Simpson Publisher: Image Comics Release Date: February 24, 2021 Cover Price: $3.99 Score:  ★★★★☆ (4/5) 'Stray Dogs' may see itself as " Lady and the Tramp meets Silence of the Lambs " but issue one was all Alfred Hitchcock. The mystery, the tension, the dread, the lingering questions suffocate each page soon after our shellshocked protagonist, the trembling Sophie arrives at a strange house full of other rescues. Something is amiss an

REVIEW: 'Savage Tales: Halloween Special' #0 by Mark Russell, Jacob Edgar, and Dearbhla Kelly

A 28-page special, directly connected to the events of RED SONJA #9. Know this, in a time before, Young Sonja The Red journeyed to the Sorcerers of Wigur-Nomadene. She would attempt to convince them to bring her family and friends back to life. But magic...comes with a cost...

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By acclaimed writer MARK RUSSELL (Red Sonja, The Riddler: Year Of The Villain) and JACOB EDGAR (James Bond: Moneypenny).


Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Jacob Edgar, Dearbhla Kelly
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: October 16, 2019
Cover Price: $4.99

Score: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

This surprisingly sweet and thoughtful one-shot celebrating Halloween with Red Sonja is unlike your typical Red Sonja comic. Instead of swashbuckling sword action, bar brawls and sly one-liners, 'Savage Tales: Halloween Special' offers a bittersweet tale of love, guilt, and redemption. It may not be about Halloween exactly but this story does honor the dead and the decisions that continue to haunt. 

 This issue, while a one-shot, does give some background to 'Red Sonja' #9 as to how she met the Sorcerers of Wigur-Nomadene. 'Savage' opens with a young Sonja bringing all the riches she could muster to the tower as an offering to the Sorcerers to return her loved ones from the dead. There's more to this request than just a transaction. The Sorcerers feed on misery so essentially what's in it for them. As the tale unfolds, the young Sonja's traumatic childhood is revealed along with the peace and love she found with a boy later on. A life of potential riches cut short by the new royal overlords.

 You've never seen Sonja so vulnerable and contemplative before. She lays out her story and feelings of regret and pain that still haunt her. It's this desire to restore life as it was with the people she trusted and loved seems more akin to the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) than Halloween. And it's what makes her pain so relatable, the aching of a lost loved one and the wish to reunite even for a moment. 

The art from Jacob Edgar and Dearbhla Kelly is clean, bright and juxtaposed with pathos expressed by Sonja.  The style fits this flashback to young Sonja who was resilient and resourceful then but much more gentle and naive. The pacing allows for scenes to breathe to take in the emotional weight of certain moments. Again, it's not a rip-roaring adventure but one of soul-crushing decisions and heartache that carry on for the infamous She-Devil with a Sword.

'Savage Tales: Halloween Special' is a somber but heart-felt tale that gives Sonja another layer of humanity. It's a familiar story but written with such heart and illustrated so beautifully, that this one-shot is a must for any Red Sonja fan. While not exactly a "Halloween" story, 'Savage Tales' honors the dead with a mix of guilt and reverence just in time for Day of the Dead.