Red Sonja #8 (Comics Review)

Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s current arc on Red Sonja is quite an interesting one. Red Sonja is on a quest to bring together six masters of their craft for a great festival that a King in a foreign land wants to organise. Her reward is the lives of a thousand slaves in thrall to said king. As such stories go, it plays on Sonja’s character very well and it provides some great hooks for the story as well. Gail and Walter’s first arc on the rebooted series was excellent and with the new one they seem to repeating that excellence.

In the new issue, Sonja travels to secure the services of a Beast Lord who puts on arena games involving animals and tells a tale of blood and violence. She has already secured the services of the world’s greatest cook and now it is the turn of this animal tamer. But things are not as smooth as before since she has a history with the man. With Gail’s trademark awesome humour and with Walter’s excellent pencils and Adriano Lucas’ perfect colours, this issue is one of the best the team has turned out thus far.

Red Sonja v2 08Jenny Frison does the cover here and it didn’t work for me. I’ve loved all the covers that she’s done so far, but this one just doesn’t match up in any way. The style is completely different and to be honest, there’s just too much white here to provide a proper contrast against the red of Sonja’s hair.

For the story, one of the reasons I loved the new issue so much is because of Red Sonja’s humour, which has all the hallmarks of Gail’s trademark style. Case in point is when, after being on the road for several days and hungry for some… company, Sonja asks the cook Gribaldi to sleep with her. They are just at the edge of the city where their next… target is, and since it is late at night and the journey has been long, they are taking some well-deserved rest. Being on the road for so long has made Sonja antsy and she desires his company. But Gribaldi, confused and shocked, refuses, especially she, well, smells of the road and he wants to be romanced. The whole exchange is just too funny and Gail does well to show off Sonja’s softer side.

The main story itself was one of the bloodiest we’ve seen so far in the new Red Sonja, but is entirely in keeping with the overall tone of the comic. One thing I find interesting is that the recently-released one-shot Red Sonja: Berserker by Nancy A. Collins and Fritz Casas has a very similar plot. That threw me for a moment. Gail’s story stands well on its own, but I can’t help but wonder at what the editors were thinking to allow such close-matching stories to go to print so close together, within 2 weeks or so of each other.

Still, what matters is that Gail’s execution is brilliant. She builds up the friendship between Gribaldi and Sonja very well, and all the twists and turns of the story kept me on the edge of my seat all the way. I read on my iPad as much as I can, and I just couldn’t tap the screen edges fast enough to get to the next page. Sonja’s history with Kalayah is provided in a handful of panels and the story moves quickly beyond that brief (very brief!) exposition into the current events, which are what matter. The pacing of the story is quick so that can be slightly jarring but hardly made a difference in the end. And I just wanted more. As usual.

On the art side, the entire team deserves praise for turning out another excellent issue once again. Walter, Adriano, and letterer Simon Bowland have done a top-class job here and the art stands out. Whether we talk about the campfire shared by Gribaldi and Sonja or Sonja vs Kalayah or the beasts in the area, everyone is captured very well, and the dialogue is always clear and easy to read. Sometimes the latter can be a bit tough to read on a digital device but I had no problems on that front here, as usual.

Overall, another stellar issue, if that wasn’t already clear from the review! Bring on issue #9!

Rating: 9.5/10

More Red Sonja: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7; (Legends of Red Sonja) #1; Li’l Sonja #1; Berserker.

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Posted on April 4, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

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