Red Sonja #5 by Gail Simone (Comics Review)
One thing that I love about Gail Simone’s story arcs is that she writes strong, consistent stories regardless at what point they are set. Be it the beginning, or the middle, or the end, her writing always entertains in all sorts of different way. The Movement, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, she’s been excellent in all of them, and her revival of Red Sonja in collaboration with artist Walter Geovani is further proof that she is one of the best writers in the industry, no doubts about that.
As a fan of the character, I was immediately on board with this series even before the first issue had been released. After that, it was only a matter of form since Gail and Walter gave me a story and a character that I could really latch on to. They’ve put Sonja through some really tough moments in the previous four issues, and now she is on the mend, and spoiling for a fight, which she does get by the end, except for a slight unforeseen complication which was perfect.
In the previous issue, we saw the Sonja had begun to recover from the plague, thanks in no small amount to Timath, the son of the dead King Dimath who Sonja considered to be a friend and a father figure. We also learned some more of the spirits that drove Dark Annisia to her clash with Sonja, and what motivates her. Through it all, we also got to see a small facet of the history that these two had, back when they were gladiators fighting in the pits of Zamora for the pleasures of its sadistic ruler, King Bazrat. That was how Dimath found them when he conquered the city and set both of them free. This penultimate issue of the Dark Annisia arc brings all of that almost full-circle.
I haven’t read all that many Red Sonja comics, and what few that I have read have all been by multiple writers, so there’s never really been a consistent portrayal for her in that regard. Still, I’ll say that what Gail has been doing with the character has been some really top-notch work and while, in my understanding, she hasn’t exactly reinvented the character, she’s certainly done a good job of making her into a strong, complicated character who is not hobbled by lacking in any department except for the physical skills. A strong female character is not defined by just her physical skills, her ability to hold her own in a fight, but by her character, who real she feels, how much the reader is able to connect with her.
With the way that Sonja mourns Dimath’s dead when Nias and her sister lead Sonja to his grave, the way that she gets angry (angrier actually) when she hears that Annisia has closed all the taverns in the city, her feelings of betrayal at everything that Annisia has done, Sonja’s strength as a character continues to emerge. Gail never misses any of the emotional beats in the story, and we even get to see some of Timath’s own reflections on his life under the shadow of his accomplished father. That was a nice touch certainly.
And the ending, well, I suppose there were signs of it in the story, but I was pleasantly surprised by the twist. It was handled well and it came at just the right moment in the story to shock and awe, and left me wanting more. But of course, we have to wait till next month for the final issue of this arc. And if it is anything like these five issues have been, then it is going be pure excellence.
Where the art is concerned, full compliments go to everyone involved. Jenny Frison’s main cover captures Sonja at a moment where she’s calm before unleashing her inner fury. Its also a reflection on her as a character. She lives by her sword but you don’t see that in the cover. We already know that Annisia took her sword away from her. And now in this cover Sonja is looking ahead, to plan for what’s coming. She’s looking to the future perhaps? I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but it fits the themes and concepts that Gail is playing with quite well. Then there’s Becky Cloonan’s variant cover which does feature Sonja with her sword, a sword with blood dripping from it. Commentary on how the issue ends in fact. Sort of. And of course, Stephanie Buscema’s subscription covers have been just too awesome for words all throughout.
In the internal artwork, Walter and colourist Adriano Lucas play well with all the concepts that make Sonja what she is. There’s a great amount of focus on all the characters involved, and they do a great job once again. If there’s any negatives to the arc, its that there is a slight lettering mistake. Timath’s name is misspelled as Tiath in one place. That’s really the only faults I picked up.
So it all just means that Gail and Co. delivered another excellent issue in the series, and they are definitely on the roll here. Fingers crossed for next month’s issue to be more of the same!
Posted on November 22, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged Adriano Lucas, Becky Cloonan, Comics, Comics Review, Dark Annisia, Dynamite Entertainment, Fantasy, Gail Simone, Jenny Frison, Red Annisia, Red Sonja, Review Central, She-Devil With A Sword, Simon Bowland, Stephanie Buscema, Swords and Sorcery, Walter Geovani, Warrior Women. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.