by Gail Simone (Writer), Walter Geovani (Artist), Adriano Lucas (Colorist)
The Story: Sonja gets cured as she prepares to finally meet Annissia in battle.
The Review: There are certain times when any reader begin to question why exactly he or she is following a certain writer or artist. That particular person may have made some spectacular work before, getting loyalty from a good deal of potential buyers in the process, yet there will always be weaker or stronger work depending on the subject and character. I rather like Gail Simone, thanks to her work on titles like Secret Six and the first volume of Birds of Prey, yet I can’t say I am her biggest fan, with what she is writing right now not exactly doing it for me. I am rather uninterested by Batgirl and The Movement, yet I know that she can do some really great work.
This is the mindset in which I read Red Sonja, with a lot of elements being rather good and fitting with the voice Simone has established for herself as a writer, yet there’s just something missing to make it something absolutely enjoyable and memorable.
It’s not due to the fact that Red Sonja is a boring character. Quite the contrary, in fact, as the titular character is written with quite a lot of complexity, showing her harder and softer side alongside a philosophy that is fascinating to see. While she is a devoted warrior that fights with savagery and is not exactly shy about being as violent as possible, this issue shows she knows honor, possessing a personal code. All the while, the way she see how temporary and futile violence is while she gets cured by the son of King Dimath, a man she sees as a true hero considering how he has found a cure for the plague she suffers from. As a lead, Sonja provides exactly what people expects from her, yet delivers a bit more, which makes her interesting.
Where the book is perhaps a bit ordinary is in direct plot. While the use of several flashbacks to further present the stakes and show a bit more character depths do add a bit of complexity to the conflict at hand, it still only adds up to a traditional ”good vs. evil” fight upon which Sonja needs to save a high number of people from one bent on their destruction. There are, of course, some nice ideas added to the mix to provide some nicer moments, yet they are a bit incidental to the plot rather than inclusive.
Most of those ideas are actually connected to the setting, which is surprisingly enticing as it provides a venue for science, magic, barbarism and a bit of more supernatural touches. There are potential ghosts, fish-men, giant leeches in a world that seems to turn around a certain idea of feudalism with certain medieval tones that are certainly welcome. It’s a world that is a bit more fleshed out, which makes it a tad more interesting to understand with every issues.
Where it’s a bit lacking, though, is in its secondary characters, who aren’t fleshed out as well as they could. While the two young women following Sonja around do provide for a bit of humor here and there, they don’t really add much of anything to the tale. The same could unfortunately be said of the son of King Dimath, who despite having a personality and actually giving something of consequence to the story, simply doesn’t appear long enough to be actually likable or even important enough to warrant more. There simply aren’t many characters beside Sonja that are simply interesting to follow, which is unfortunate.
The art of Walter Geovani fares well, though, with his panelling being dynamic enough while his characters are expressive without succumbing to hyperbole. His depiction of the rather intriguing setting is also quite apt, as he focus just enough of his panels in showing the lands and sceneries that surround the characters, letting it be known without ever removing the focus on the characters themselves. However, his lines are a bit uneven in some pages, with a clear polish given to certain details while some are a bit rushed-looking, making them look half-present in the pages. Some scenes are really great, with the characters and action being well-presented, while others are a bit more vague, with some minor details appearing as ugly or non-apparent, like eyes not looking right or the various elements on some armor being shady-looking and incomplete. It is, of course, minor in the issue as a whole, but it is a bit distracting.
The colorization by Adriano Lucas is very good, though, with a heavy emphasis on darker colors to fit in with the rather unsettling and savage world the heroine lives in. By pushing for colors like brown, grey, beige and the sorts, Lucas is able to enhance the effects of the other colors like green, red and white to the maximum of their potential, setting them as rarity in the issue and thus becoming more memorable. It creates some potential for some smaller details while it provides for many contrasts in the uniformity of the issue.
The Conclusion: The heroine is very interesting, the setting is intriguing and the art and colorization are apt, yet the potential for greatness is pushed back by uninteresting secondary characters and a rather classical plot. It has its moments, yet this take on Red Sonja could be stronger considering the talent behind it.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière