Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Queen Sonja #12

GOOD THING: Told almost entirely in flashback, not referring to the present day of Queen Sonja until the very last panel, this issue does more than any Red Sonja story in recent memory to explore the period of time between the death of Sonja's family and her emergence as a mercenary captain in Pah-Dishah.

This issue provides us with something of a quantum leap, showing that Sonja did spend some time undergoing formal training as part of a thieves guild after striking out on her own for a time as a solo-thief, but proving too bold in what she stole and in flaunting her wealth after. She learns caution and fighting skills from Kane, the prize-pupil of the master thief of the guild, and begins to fall in love with the more experienced thief...

BAD THING: This issue seems to try and have it both ways regarding the nature of the blessing Sonja received from her goddess and it may wind up pleasing no one because of it.

Most of this issue, much like the previous issue, is devoted toward showing how Sonja gained some of the skills that she is famous for. It is shown that Sonja is a young woman of rare spirit and skill and that the only thing she lacks is experience and the caution born of experience.

It is worth noting that despite being a great thief, Sonja has no training as a warrior. This is to be expected with a peasant girl in Hyboria. It is no surprise then that she is easily beaten in unarmed combat by Kane when they first meet... and yet somehow, Sonja proves a natural with the sword, beating Kane with some effort during her first fencing lesson.

The idea that Sonja has some divine skill with weapons has long been an accepted part of the mythos for decades. Yet it seems odd that blessing should not extend to unarmed combat. Indeed, one might think Sonja would be better at fighting unarmed - using techniques where her natural speed would make up for any lack of strength facing a stronger male opponent.

It just seems odd that Sonja would only be blessed by her goddess to be skilled with a weapon she would be unlikely to have access to and yet that she would not be granted the natural unarmed fighting skills that would prove more helpful to a peasant girl. Then again, the gods of Hyboria are not known for their gifts and it could be that Sonja's surviving this long, reckless as she is, has been blessing enough until this moment.

It is a fun point to consider but this is likely to aggravate those fans who prefer to see Sonja as a divine champion or those who might take offense that much of Sonja's training was overseen by two male thieves.

The Final Verdict: A good issue with great art, though some Red Sonja fans may be bothered by some of the implications of this tale.

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