by Gail Simone (Writer), Walter Geovani (Artist), Adriano Lucas (Colorist)
The Story: It must take a mean chef to make sure human flesh is worthy of fine cuisine.
The Review: It has been a while since we last saw an issue of this title. With the conclusion of the first arc being actually sound in term of quality, the wait was not exactly the best of things for those who had been won over by Simone’s portrayal of the she-devil with a sword. However, with the beginning of a new arc, does Simone bring enough to sate those whose patience was starting to grow weary?
It is a quality return, that’s for sure, as the more nuanced and definitely entertaining version of the character return in full form, with a mission that is actually quite original and also full of potential as far as story goes.
What works quite well here is the new depths that Simone adds to the character. Adding quite a lot of humanity to Sonja, the motivation behind her quest is a rather noble one, which does work very well in contrast to her methods and her demeanour. The complexity between her rude behaviour and her desire to not inflict violence unless it is absolutely necessary adds a good bit of nuance that makes her an interesting lead. Her reactions, her actions and her code makes for a titular character that can still surprise readers, which makes her more and more compelling with close to every issues being released.
Another aspect that is also very good is the humor, with a good sense of normalcy and strangeness mixed together to create surrealism and oddities that are particularly amusing. Gourmet cannibals, the sex drive of Sonja, the lack of enjoyment Sonja has for finer cuisine and many other little aspects and details play along with the story. Never going in the way of development, the jokes are mostly an integral part of the story instead of just an addition, which makes them a bit more enjoyable in terms of appreciation.
Where it is a bit less great, but not in any ways that act as a handicap to the issue is the story itself. While not a bad one per se, there are few twists and turns that manage to surprise readers in ways that feels earned. There is action, the setup is done neatly, but the manner in which things are resolved leave a bit to be desired. Simone is to be commended to have crafted an issue that does somehow stand out on its own, with a complete conflict evolving and concluding on its own, but some elements seemingly come out a bit of nowhere. Still, the story is mostly fun in many aspects that count, so it is not as crippling as it could have been.
Where it is also a bit mixed is with the art of Walter Geovani. While some of his lines are a bit faint in some finer details such as background and some of the facial traits, Geovani makes up for it with a very dynamic panel layout, adding a diversity and a fluidity to the tale. Adding plenty of elements that only add to the next few sets of panels, his pages are adaptive and evolving in concordance with the story in a way that feel natural.
His characters are also very decent, with a very good range of emotions, expression and poses that allows for them to be as expressive as needs be without resulting to hyperbole or forced antics to service the story. This, in turn, makes the action and the more violent tidbits a bit more believable and enjoyable in turn. However, some of the elements are a little bit too imprecise and faint to actually add anything to the story being told. Pots, trees, buildings and other such elements are merely there to service the story instead of actually granting a good set for the characters to evolve in, which makes some aspects seem a bit more rushed than they truly are.
Still, despite these weaknesses, the art does look a bit better thanks to the work of Adriano Lucas, who brings a great sensibility to the visuals. Using the backgrounds and the characters smartly to provide plenty of focalization and contrasts with the right elements in the balance, many of the more important aspects are enhanced for the readers. The red hair of Sonja, the skin, the clothes, the violence, the fire and most of everything all work against the deep green and the somber overtones of the forest behind to be more visually distinct, making the very light shading and some of the palette choice all the more attractive. There are, of course, some pages that don’t use those techniques, with the flashback sequence standing out thanks to some heavy lighting, which makes them stand out amongst the book, pinpointing their unique identity in the book, making them a tad more memorable amidst this issue.
The Conclusion: With some good characterization, a good sense of humor and a rather nice artistic direction, this issue could have been absolutely great if not for a rather unimpressive story and some tiny weaknesses with a few elements of the art. Definitely good, but a bit short of greatness.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière