Gail Simone has a Writer’s Commentary on the recently released Red Sonja/Tarzan #4, on sale now from Dynamite. She writes:
Okay, I again want to thank everyone who has been following this book and reading my little commentaries. We don’t always get to focus on these little details, but they’re a big part of what makes these stories fun to write.
We’ve already discussed my love of crossovers. But here, I wanted to again mention, these are two of my favorite characters, not just in comics, but in all of fiction. I’ve said it before, but characters like Tarzan and Red Sonja, they are often imitated, never equaled. I love writing the She-Devil and the Lord of the Jungle, and I hope you’re having fun reading them smashed together for the first time in history.
It was never stated outright that Tarzan’s home was Cameroon, but it’s been pretty heavily implied, and ERB scholars have made a pretty good case, so that’s what I’m going with.
Because a lot of our story takes place away from his home, we don’t actually get to use the gorillas a lot, and that felt a little like a Batman story without Alfred. So it’s fun to put them in here, and see a little bit of their society.
It’s also fairly obviously a callback to Tarzan’s origin.
It’s interesting, but if you are a fan of Tarzan primarily from the comics, you might not be aware of this whole line of the story. Tarzan’s son Korak, in the novel SON OF TARZAN, is raised in proper English nobility, but the jungle is in his heart, and he ends up in Africa, where he meets and falls in love with a Middle Eastern girl named Meriem, who becomes a fascinating character in her own right. In some ways, she takes over a big part of the book. People have rightly dinged the jungle lord genre for some pretty overt racism, but this whole story seems to have been forgotten in Tarzan’s legend and it seems way ahead of its time. She and Korak marry and have a baby, and I was always fascinated by that, I wanted to hear more. For many, this will be their first introduction to this whole side of Tarzan’s family.
Also, Eson Duul remains a complete bastard.
This is a clear reference to one of Robert E. Howard’s other creations, a character whose name escapes me. We wanted to refer to ERB and REH within the story, their different philosophies and techniques, so it felt very fun to put Cimmeria in there.
Well, she TRIED being nice.
Even though they have made a truce, Sonja seems to enjoy making digs at Tarzan’s noble heritage. She’s wrong. In his heart, he’s far less civilized than she is.
Tarzan doesn’t really like Sonja’s wit. I believe he misunderstands her, he mistakes a coping and defensive mechanism for being trivial and flippant.
The Traveler is a character from the Swords of Sorrow crossover event, she can walk across the spans of time and dimension. Unfortunately, she is weakened, as those paths are destroyed by Eson Duul.
This is my favorite reveal of the series. Of COURSE he’s from here.
This is one of my favorite moments this issue, Sonja and the Traveler are trying to plan…for once, Sonja ISN’T the impetuous one. TARZAN is. I like his look here, like he has no f***s left to give (flips. He has no flips left).
And this is my favorite page, maybe of the whole series. The ERB Martians teaming with the H.G. Wells WAR OF THE WORLDS tripods. I would write that series in a heartbeat!
We saw in issue one, Eson Duul isn’t just a complete bastard, but he’s also racist, in a coldly unabashed and institutionalized way. He doesn’t like people different from him. He doesn’t like people LIKE him, either, but he’s bought into a really virulent strain of racial hatred, so every comment from him reflects that entitlement. We saw some of this in the work of ERB now and then, so this is meant to resonate with that, and not any current political movements. But that’s the thing, garbage finds a new face for each generation.
It MIGHT be because I hadn’t gotten to write Tarzan previously, but it’s fair to say that the world of Tarzan and his characters have gotten a bit more of a spotlight in this crossover. That was never intentional, it’s more a matter of following the organic plotline. However. Make no mistake.
Red Sonja is a badass.
And she’s one of my favorite characters, and I love how she comes to life here. It may not go as intended, but this is RED SONJA and she’s no one’s co-star.
For Sonja, who hasn’t had a family since her childhood days, Tarzan’s words mean EVERYTHING here.
I loved coming up with a way for him to do his trademark vine swing here. GREAT choreography by the wonderful Walter Geovani!
Again, as badass as Sonja and Tarzan are, they may have met their equal in Eson Duul and they keep having to learn that lesson!
Next issue, another amazing set-piece and location, and reveals of all kinds, in our penultimate chapter
Thanks to Darci for a little typo check…