Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Red Sonja #8 - A Review

Were there any doubts left that Gail Simone was dragging the She Devil With A Sword into a new era, they were eliminated with this issue.  There was some thinking that last issue - which had Sonja suggesting she was open to a threesome with two limber-looking swamp-dwellers - was a joke of some kind.  But it's no joke.  This issue confirms that this Sonja has no oath of chastity and is as direct in her romantic dealings as she is in battle.

This is a radical change to say the least!  It is also a welcome one.  While Sonja's infamous oath may have been born of classical literature and the women warriors of myth who required a man prove himself before being able to bed her there is still a serious disconnect between Sonja's status as a feminist icon in the modern day and the idea that her life (romantic and otherwise) is beholden to a war goddess' whims.  In this respect Simone's take on Red Sonja is far closer to the ideals of Robert E. Howard than any other writer to handle the character.

This is ironic because many fans of the Hyborian oeuvre are likely to dismiss Simone's story out of hand given the basic plot of the current storyline, in which Sonja has been recruited by a Stygian priest to recruit six of the greatest artisans in the land so that he may throw the ultimate celebration before his foretold death.  Howard purists may wail that Stygia is an insular country and that an obvious foreigner like Sonja would never be allowed within its borders, let alone allowed to traipse about it on so trivial a quest as finding six artisans.  These people miss the larger point - that Sonja is a heroine very much in the mold of Howard's other heroes and - much like Conan - has little use for gods and priests.

Artist Walter Geovani proves a perfect partner in crime for Simone's work.  I was wowed by Geovani's previous work on Red Sonja before the recent reboot and had hoped he might be given more regular work with the character.  I don't know which god heard my wish and granted it so I shall thank them all on Sonja's behalf.  Because the gods know she'll never do it. :)

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