by Gail Simone (Writer), Walter Geovani (Artist), Adriano Lucas (Colorist)
The Story: As the true culprit of every evils that has befallen the town and Red Sonja lets itself be known, it is time for a little savagery from the warrior woman herself.
The Review: Well played Gail Simone, well played indeed. I’ll be honest here and actually say that I’ve been taken by surprise by this issue and its quality. There are always time when a series become a bit tedious, not because of a lack of quality but only because of a certain lowering of the readers excitation. Gail Simone on this title seemed like it was a match made in heaven, yet the series never did seem to be on the same level I thought it could reach someday. The previous issues were very competent in many regards, yet they did not impress me in the best of ways in a lot of areas.
It seem that this issue does a lot of things in order to circumvent my initial impression of this series, with Gail Simone working very thoroughly in order to not only bring this story to a close in a great way, but provide plenty of opportunity for twists and turns along the way.
One the better aspects of this issue, which had been a staple of the series so far is how Simone writes Red Sonja herself, making her much more than just a mere bloodthirsty barbarian out for battle and alcohol. In this issue, every single nuances is brought forth, with her thirst for vengeance, her personal code, her beliefs, her past and most of everything that can make her an interesting protagonist is present. Being presented in a more nuanced way, Sonja ends up being not only interesting and important, but also serves as a good window to the world Simone has built.
The world, however, is not as present in terms of atmosphere as much this time around, with the mood of the story filling in. While the monsters and how the world works is not so present in the imagery so much as in the dialogue and through the actions of the characters, it is nonetheless effective as the brutality and merciless nature of the setting lets itself be known very well throughout the story and its conclusion.
The brutality and world is not only shown through Red Sonja, however, as Simone manages to turn things around with the secondary characters, managing to make Annisia, Nias, Ayla, Tiath and others a bit more interesting this time around. Revolving the story a bit more around them with their actions and with some clever twists, Simone manage to make them rise in terms of interest as she bring their story to a close in some way, setting up conclusions and new status for most of them without hurling the story and focus away from Sonja too much.
One thing that is also done right in this issue is the action, with plenty of sword-swinging happening. The battle between Annisia and Sonja as well as the way Sonja shows how savage and strong she is when fighting soldiers is rather great, with the tone of the book reflecting well in the brutality on display. The focus of the book isn’t on the action, yet the brief pages upon which the characters can shine in that respect are nicely put together nonetheless.
The book would not be nearly as good without Walter Geovani, though, who does impress in some manner in certain areas while he is a tad lacking in others. Despite the fact that a good lot of pages here are basically talking heads and a lot of dialogue being thrown around, the diversity in angles and the dynamic panelling he puts forth makes the story much more exciting. As a result, the action scenes and some of the bigger moments in the issue ends up being much better with a clear focus put on the pages in which they are featured. The anatomy, faces and poses are also very well done, with the characters being diverse and expressive enough to leave an impression on the readers and make their reactions to events that much more striking.
Where the art isn’t as strong is in the backgrounds and the various details the scenery, with Geovani doing a minimal job here. While the focus clearly isn’t where the action happens, but how it actually happens, there is a certain lack of details in the sceneries and backgrounds that does a bit of disservice to the issue. When there are actual elements to the background, they aren’t really detailed or preeminent enough to actually matter, which makes them a bit useless beside putting a vague context in which the story and action will evolve in. Still, despite this element of lower quality, the rest if very good, which bodes well for the possible future Walter Geovani has on this title.
Adriano Lucas does have a future as well, it seems, as his work is also very good on this title. Using a selection of warmer and duller colors in most scenes, with brown, red, beige, grey and others being the norm, Lucas use colder and brighter colors as contrasts. Using them sparingly, he is able to convey the dark and violent world built around the character aptly. While there is a certain lack of diversity, the colorist uses this as an advantage as the unity of colors does provide for a certain flow to the story that connects well with the manner in which it is told.
The Conclusion: With a good deal of action, some potent characterization, a great presentation of the themes and tones of the title, some strong art and colorization, this issue proves that this title does possess the capacity to pleasantly surprise. There may be one or two minor weaknesses here and there, but this is a solid effort from Simone, Geovani and Lucas nonetheless.
Hugo Robberts Larivière