Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World
As you may have noticed, I am not one to concern myself overmuch with the stereotypical depictions of helpless women that usually grace the covers of vintage publications.
This is The Shadow Of The Vulture. The Robert E. Howard story that is the only appearance of his character Red Sonya of Rogatino (as opposed to the chain-mail-bikini-wearing Red Sonja).
Sonya is a gun-slinging warrior of Polish-Ukrainian origin with a grudge against the Ottoman sultan, probably a result of him kidnapping her sister, the non-fictional favorite harem-girl Roxelana, who ended up marrying him as sole legal wife.
This is her introduction in the story:
It was a woman, dressed as von Kalmbach had not seen even the dandies of France dressed. She was tall, splendidly shaped, but lithe. From under a steel cap escaped rebellious tresses that rippled red gold in the sun over her compact shoulders. High boots of Cordovan leather came to her mid-thighs, which were cased in baggy breeches. She wore a shirt of fine Turkish mesh-mail tucked into her breeches. Her supple waist was confined by a flowing sash of green silk, into which were thrust a brace of pistols and a dagger, and from which depended a long Hungarian saber. Over all was carelessly thrown a scarlet cloak.
This surprizing figure was bending over the cannon, sighting it in a manner betokening more than a passing familiarity, at a group of Turks who were wheeling a carriage-gun just within range.
She is a terrific warrior, fast and brutal and deadly.
It was Red Sonya who had come to his aid, and her onslaught was no less terrible than that of a she-panther. Her strokes followed each other too quickly for the eye to follow; her blade was a blur of white fire, and men went down like ripe grain before the reaper. With a deep roar Gottfried strode to her side, bloody and terrible, swinging his great blade. Forced irresistibly back, the Moslems wavered on the edge of the wall, then leaped for the ladders or fell screaming through empty space.
Oaths flowed in a steady stream from Sonya’s red lips and she laughed wildly as her saber sang home and blood spurted along the edge. The last Turk on the battlement screamed and parried wildly as she pressed him; then dropping his scimitar, his clutching hands closed desperately on her dripping blade. With a groan he swayed on the edge, blood gushing from his horribly cut fingers.
"Hell to you, dog-soul!" she laughed. "The devil can stir your broth for you!"
With a twist and a wrench she tore away her saber, severing the wretch’s fingers; with a moaning cry he pitched backward and fell headlong.
She never gives quarter and never takes shit.
Gottfried sat down on a piece of fallen wall, and because he was shaken and exhausted, and still mazed with drink and blood-lust, he sank his face in his huge hands and wept. Sonya kicked him disgustedly.
And she never, not once, needed saving, although she saves the protagonist at least three times.
As in a dream Gottfried saw Red Sonya framed in the doorway, pistol in hand. Her face was drawn and haggard; her eyes burned like coals. Her basinet was gone, and her scarlet cloak. Her mail was hacked and red-clotted, her boots slashed, her silken breeches splashed and spotted with blood.
With a croaking cry Tshoruk ran at her, scimitar lifted. Before he could strike, she crashed down the barrel of the empty pistol on his head, felling him like an ox. From the other side Rhupen slashed at her with a curved Turkish dagger. Dropping the pistol, she closed with the young Oriental. Moving like someone in a dream, she bore him irresistibly backward, one hand gripping his wrist, the other his throat. Throttling him slowly, she inexorably crashed his head again and again against the stones of the wall, until his eyes rolled up and set. Then she threw him from her like a sack of loose salt.
Now, I haven’t actually read the 1973 comic here pictured (Conan the Barbarian #22) and since that woman doesn’t have red hair it might well be someone other than Sonya, but if you are going to adapt Shadow of the Vulture, you should really put RED FUCKING SONYA on the cover!