Thursday, February 18, 2016

Red Sonja #2 - A Review

Sonja refused the throne of Hyrkania fearing what kind of queen she would be, yet she now finds herself cursing the decision. The new king, while having ushered in a new era of prosperity, has also given rise to a horde of ills. Among them are maddened soldiers killing the families of those who refuse the "honor" of serving in the army and generals forcing plays to be rewritten to insult the previous king and honor Hyrkania superiority to the point of paying insult to other nations - even those friendly to Hyrkania!

Alas, there are some evils even Red Sonja cannot fight. And this darkness plaguing the soul of Hyrkania may not be born of spells and sorcery but lie within the heart of humanity itself...

Red Sonja is not overly famous for social commentary, save in the most vaguely philosophical terms regarding women being as capable as men. Before now I wouldn't have thought it possible to tell a story about the dangers of jingoism and racism in a sword-and-sorcery setting. Margureite Bennett not only makes this timely statement but does so without getting preachy or making any on-the-nose comments about building walls to keep the Turanians out and making them pay for it.

There's also an interesting dynamic in how Sonja - the ultimate outsider - is the one who takes action to save a system she has no wish to be a part of.  Sonja lives the life she does so that no one else suffers as she did, yet she's a stark individualist. It's an interesting dichotomy and Bennett explores that wonderfully.

The artwork of Aneke skilfully captures the essence of Bennett's script. Aneke has a wonderful sense of staging and there is a sense of motion in every panel, even in the more static scenes of two characters just talking. Jorge Sutil's colors are well chosen, with the palettes offering a variety of subtle gradients to indicate light and shadow, even in the skin tones.

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