3 issues ago, I picked up my first ever comic surrounding the character of Red Sonja. As I have said in my review of the first issue of this title, I was coming at the character afresh with no foreknowledge apart from the movie (of which I have since been told to treat that as something you saw, not of something relevant). With that, I must say that I continue to be impressed with the Red Sonja title from Dynamite Entertainment. This issue, in particular, appealed to me because of my lack of who Sonja was as it revealed a fair amount about her past.
Sonja is a person that is a result of her time. She is not a superhero, she is simply a person. And she’s lived through hell to make who she is. I don’t know if other books have delved into her “origin” in the way this one does, but I really don’t care. It’s a clear indicator of who Sonja is and provides some insight as to the events of the past that made her who she is today. Sonja is a fighter. Sonja is a SURVIVOR. And she does what she needs to do to survive, but not without still maintaining a sense of honor. She is a true warrior and that comes across in this story.
Writer Gail Simone has, I think, found a title that she can truly embrace and work with. There are legions out there who either love or hate Simone’s work; there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. Personally, I love her on this title and I hope neither she nor Dynamite have any intention for her to leave anytime soon. The freedom to tell a character who has a backstory but is not constrained by… well, anything else in the universe. Over at DC, it’s obvious that there are problems and with far too many announcements of editorial interference (including Simone herself being removed from Batgirl at one point and then being hired back) they are probably keeping somewhat of a tight reign on her. Her recent book in the Villains Month series around the Ventriloquist did not get rave reviews from my colleague here at Comic Booked (and neither did Simone herself, for that matter), but as it pertains to the issue I happen to agree. I just didn’t like it, but I also didn’t like the character during her other appearances in the New 52. I also didn’t continue to pick up Simone’s other DC series The Movement after the first 4 issues because it just wasn’t appealing to me (and the DC environment as a whole is something that I am not sure if I will continue to follow). Red Sonja is a book that is exceptionally written and I will continue to follow. I don’t know if Dynamite has the editorial touches that it sounds like DC has, but whatever is happening now I urge both parties to keep it up. This was a strongly written book and stands out as one of my best reads of the week.
Walter Geovani continues to impress me with his art. It’s some of the most vibrant penciling I have seen in a long time. Add in the colors from Adriano Lucas and this book is – to be quite honest – one of the best drawn books I have read in a long time. The medium of comic books is to tell a story through sequential art and this team – the entire team, including letterer Simon Bowland – does just that but it takes it up a notch, even. The entire team appears determined to tell a quality tale. They want you involved. They want to create a connection between the reader and Sonja and, for this new reader to the character, they have done just that. Add in the covers of the book (such as the main cover by Jenny Frison, as shown above) as well as its variant by Pia Guerra and even the more fun subscription cover by Stephanie Buscema, and you know that this is a book where all of the creators are proud of the end result. There’s no rushing. There’s no slacking. It’s just done right when it comes to the visual piece.
My only problems with this issue are the stag that appears in the book. It appears to be symbolic of life for Sonja, as she chooses to let it live and it, in turn, helps her to live by sharing its body heat. It is involved in her flashback, her fever dream, and so it gives the appearance of some mystical element at play. This part was something I just wasn’t sure about and I hope that it gets explained at some point in the future, but it really came across as some kind of Patronus out of Harry Potter but for Sonja. I’m really not sure how I feel about that. Oh, and those twins (aka Sonja’s “bodyguards”) or whatever they are show up. They annoy me. Hopefully their presence is justified soon. Even though I won’t drop the book because of them, they need to be there for a reason. And right now I just don’t see that reason.
Once again, a fantastic read for me. I wouldn’t give it 5 stars because of the reasons I mention above but it’s really up there. I picked up the first issue because it was on the shelf, and I am not sorry I did. The series continues to keep up to that level of great storytelling and so long as they keep this up I will be along for the ride.