Gail Simone (Writer), Walter Geovani (Artist), Adriano Lucas (Colorist)

The Story: Red Sonja tries to defend a village from Dark Annisia as she learn a great deal about what is happening to others and herself.

The Review: The propensity to surprise is not something that many writers have the ability to create very often. In a world where perhaps hundreds of stories are produced each and every day, originality and the potential to twist the audience expectation is not something that everyone can pull off.

Thankfully, Gail Simone is not a run-of-the-mill writer, as she do know how to build up a situation, only to subvert it for the readers pleasure. What she has done, in this issue, is construct a premise that could have very well offered a potent, yet unsurprising premise for a sword and sorcery title, only to reveal some key information at the right time, creating a delightful plot twist that bodes well for the future of this title.

The issue opens where the first one left off, as the conflict between the invaders and the village that Red Sonja is trying to defend open. Right off the bat, Simone goes a bit deeper in the first scenes of the previous comic as we get some explanation of just what kind of character Dark Annisia is. What we get from this character is something strange, yet compelling as this new character starts off as a clear foe, yet evolve into something more as the story develops and the connection between Sonja and her is explained. The evolution of the situation from the readers grasp is something that is handled well and that promise more from that specific character, which is something to look forward to.

The setting is also well put in place, as the mix of fantasy and straight sword-and-sorcery that allow a lot of leeway into the story itself. Monsters, strange humanoids and the like mix into the traditionally medieval tropes of killer plagues, cavalry and other such designs. Simone use these fairly well, creating a world that begs to be explored further, as there is potential in such a landscape filled with such monstrosities and wonders.
However, what is both a strength and a weakness is the action and the plot twist of the issue. The action, while pretty brutal at times, is pretty scarce, as if it was only for show. It seems as if Simone felt it was obligatory to include some action, yet never truly went fully through with the idea. The twist seems to have the same weaknesses, as it is splendid, yet there is very little building up to it. It makes for one hell of a finale page and some others that may be a tad controversial, yet it feel lightly tacked on. Strong, yet it could have been handled better.

The art of Walter Geovani, though, fares quite well, earning a better way to summarize it than the aforementioned plot twist. The strength of the world and the setting pass through him, as he illustrate the abnormal monsters with the regular medieval/fantastic world and elements aptly, creating a dichotomy between both elements without destroying the effects of either of them. His expressions for the characters are apparent enough, yet never wholly exaggerated as he is able to convey emotions minimally at times and in burst at others. His panelling is dynamic, almost experimental at times and he lets the story flow well, which makes for a pleasant reading experience in visual terms.

The coloring from Adriano Lucas, meanwhile, is perfectly competent, bringing in the highlights of the world by amplifying them. What’s dirty and disgusting is doubly more so with the use of purple, brown, grey and green with a darker aspect to the luminosity, same goes with the violence and the rest of the issue. This is a dark world and Lucas shows it very well.

The Conclusion: While there isn’t any memorable action scene and that the twist does come out a bit out of left field, this issue still does convince with the art, the setting and some of the key concepts presented with the very twist that propels the title forward.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière