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She-devil Sonja victorious over enemies . . . and readers, too

"Gold and untold riches . . . I am a simple girl and have never much cared for such things. Steel is my most precious metal."

"Gold and untold riches . . . I am a simple girl and have never much cared for such things. Steel is my most precious metal."

So speaks Red Sonja in one of her adventures contained in the just-released "Red Sonja" No. 50 - and it is a quote that captures the essence and simplicity of the character's appeal.

Much as the character thinks nothing of going up against ten or more men with only her blade as an ally, so too has she defied the odds by not only making it to her 50th issue - something only a literal handful of solo series starring female characters have ever done - but also by giving no indication through either sales or quality of the book that it is going to end anytime soon.

Indeed, where most anniversary issues typically contain an original story and a couple of reprints, Dynamite has chosen to commemorate Sonja's special occasion by giving fans three brand-new stories, reprints of two of the better stories they've produced since relaunching the character in 2005, and have added Sonja's first appearance in comics, Marvel's "Red Sonja" No. 1 which debuted in 1977, with classic old-school scripting from the legendary Roy Thomas and Clara Noto.

As seen in these pages, by attracting top talent - and marketing the character shrewdly - Dynamite has helped Sonja reach her true potential for the first time since her creation by Robert E. Howard way back in 1934.

With stories spun by such talented scribes as Michael Oeming and Raven Gregory, Sonja transcends the sword-and-sorcery genre and finds herself in epic tales worthy of a legend.

Indeed, she comes across as a force of nature on every page. Despite the familiar, necessary elements of the genre, the writers are skilled enough to make every foe and adventure a challenge to Sonja that also affects her on some level, with inevitable twists and turns along the way. The only thing that is predictable is that Sonja will eventually prevail.

There aren't enough adjectives to describe the various artists' renditions of the staggeringly sexy Sonja in this book.

Yes, some may scoff at a bikini-clad babe surviving an era that makes the Wild West look like the height of civility, but Sonja is more warrior than woman, dispensing quick justice to those who feel they can "take" her whenever they have the urge. She usually does so quickly and efficiently, usually brutally and sometimes humorously. Feminists everywhere will be proud enough to stand up and cheer.

But Sonja is portrayed here as far from a pure heroine. We see her as conniving, spiteful, manipulative, cocky, cold-blooded, hot-tempered and vengeful - occasionally maternal and vulnerable.

In short, she (and most of her enemies) are portrayed as wonderfully human. That makes us care about her tales and what happens to everyone in them. It's that element that is so hard to pull off that keeps Comics Guy and other readers coming back to enjoy the "She-Devil With A Sword" every month, long after we might grow tired of spilled blood and severed limbs.

Is 'Flash' on fast track?

Will The Fastest Man Alive be able to beat a "Green Lantern" sequel into production?

That's the question many comics fans and movie-industry insiders are asking after the Hollywood Reporter announced that the writing team of Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim have been tapped to write treatments for both a "Green Lantern" sequel and the long-awaited silver-screen incarnation of "The Flash." They will then do the full screenplay for one of the projects.

That Warner Bros. is thinking about starting production on a "Green Lantern" sequel a full year before the film is released next summer is a good sign that they like what they see so far and want to shorten the time before a follow-up as much as possible, like Marvel Studios did with "Iron Man." It also helps that Berlanti, Green and Guggenheim wrote the screenplay for the first "Lantern."

On the flip side, what if "Green Lantern" bombs next year? What about the fans who have had to endure years of dashed hopes and false starts regarding a feature film version of their beloved Scarlet Speedster? With the final part of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and a new take on Superman being written, and "Green Lantern" still filming, Comics Guy feels that it makes sense to give fans what they want and start a potentially lucrative new franchise.

In short, if they can do both, great. If not, it's way past time for a "Flash" film.

* On the Marvel movie front, Marvel Studios announced that Oscar-nominated Stanley Tucci has been cast to star as Dr. Abraham Erskine, the scientist whose experiment turns Steve Rogers into the patriotic super-soldier, Captain America.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") is in negotiations to play the archer Hawkeye in "The Avengers."

Terrible titles?

How do you make people forget that a beloved franchise is past its prime and fans of a weak franchise look forward to a third installment after the first two films were poorly received? If you're a Hollywood producer, the answer seems to be: Give them terrible titles!

The next "Die Hard" film, which started moving forward last month, will be titled "Die Hard 24/7", which makes zero sense. Not to be outdone, the "Fantastic Four" reboot will be titled, "Fantastic Four Reborn." Yeah, they're replacing the entire cast and starting from scratch, but that's still one pretty awkward and crappy title.