Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Red Sonja Debate

Saturday night I pulled Uncanny X-Men #469 from my stack of unread comics. As I sat down to read it, I paused to take in the cover. It’s a great Billy Tan image of the team; a little too Manga, maybe, but still pretty to look at. Then it hit me: Wait a minute! Wasn’t Chris Bachalo doing the art for the final chapter of the arc?

Uh oh!

I quickly opened my Collectorz Comic Database and found the last entry for Uncanny X-Men. My worst fear was realized. I had somehow forgotten to buy issue #468.


I plopped back against my chair with a sigh. Crap! For the next 15 minutes, I scoured my files, emails, and order forms, trying to figure out what happened. It was pretty obvious I was to blame. I hadn’t ordered it, and when I Googled the issue, I remembered seeing it on the shelf at the comic shop…and then leaving it there because I knew I had already pre-ordered it, just as I always did.

What was I going to do? There weren’t any comic shops open that late, and I certainly couldn’t read the current issue without knowing what happened previously. I was stuck…but not for long.

When the clock struck noon on Sunday and All C’s opened their doors for business, I was there to correct my mistake. Finding the issue I needed was a piece of cake. And adding a couple of other Bachalo books only took an extra couple of minutes. So why did I spend over 30 minutes in the shop? Red Sonja.

When I saw the Billy Tan cover to Red Sonja #6 on my way to the cashier, I immediately craved it. I knew the first few issues were tucked away in the dark recesses of my closet. I never read them, but just like this issue, they sported some great covers. (A sexy warrior in a metal bikini? What’s not to like?) But as I flipped through the latest chapter, I knew that in order to get it, I’d have to go to the stacks and buy issues #4 and #5 or I’d run into the same problem that led me to the store in the first place.

I left the new issue on the shelf and headed to the back issues. I found the earlier issues easily enough, but was the Tan cover worth the cover price of three issues? Eh, probably not. But I had better go back to make sure. So back to the new releases I went. And sure enough, that cover was indeed worth it. Sonja bathing under a warm orange sun…it would fit perfectly in my collection.

Then again, I already had $9 worth of books in my hand, and I only came for one issue. I didn’t want to double that for three books I’d never read, did I? No, of course not. That’s silly. Yet I still drew up short as I made my way to the register. Maybe I’d give those other Red Sonjas another chance. Maybe they didn’t really jump out at me because I was in too much of hurry. Besides, what’s another few bucks?

With that, I went through the whole process again. I quickly found a nice copy of #5, but a perfect #4 was more elusive. Ah, there it is. But wait a second. Didn’t Marc Silvestri do an even better cover than this Eduardo Risso? I mean, if I’m going to fork over three bucks for a cover, it should be the cover I want most, right? Hell, who needs these issues any way? The one I want is on the new release wall.

So I headed back one more time to the current books and flipped through #6, but damn it, none of the Tan covers were flawless. Two had dings on the lower spine corner, and the other two had almost imperceptible creases on near the title. Sure, you could only see those miniscule wrinkles in the right light, but to me they screamed defect!

Still I debated. Maybe I—but no. No more. I had had enough. I’m a grown man. I don’t need to debate for an hour over a fucking comic book. It’s ridiculous. If I wasn’t picking up the other two, I didn’t need this one either.

On my way home, my three issues of Uncanny X-Men safe and secure on the seat next to me, I flashed on one final image of that stack of Red Sonja #6. Was that a hint of orange sticking out at the bottom? If so, that could only mean one thing: There was one last Tan cover I hadn’t inspected…

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