Let the record show that writer Gail Simone and artist Walter Geovani have made this new Red Sonja absolutely hardcore… No, not that kind of hardcore. What I mean is that between the fifteen issues that have done by these two, Red Sonja has evolved more as a character than she has from the previous decades upon decades since her original creation by Robert E. Howard. Sure, she has had moments in her history. I actually enjoy the 1980s movie (Don’t judge me.). But these two have introduced the reader to a Sonja who has fears, worries, and doubts never before addressed in the way that they have been done. Yes, Sonja is still complete and total bad assed in her portrayal and I can think of no one who would really want to meet her in any form of combat, unless they just have some sort of death wish or something. But this Red Sonja is deep, introspective and typically understands her limitations. What better way to show these limitations, than to do a story arc where Sonja’s ability to forgive is taken away through a dying wizard’s curse, making her become the very type of person that she has battled for countless years on end. That is exactly what these two have done. And what we have seen so far with this arc. From what I can tell, Sonja is not taking the whole lack of forgiveness thing to terribly well. In fact, she is so stressed out by it that she... she... she... I better not say. I will say that when you read and see how Sonja does deal with her curse you will fully understand why I feel that she is hard core and not in the sexual way. The lady does not play.
What also does not play is the continuing good collaboration that we have both in Gail Simone’s writing and Walter Geovani’s art. They have been in good sync with one another and have created three distinctly different and unique story arcs during their run. For this third one, I believe that they have truly hit their darkest tone to date. And watching them work together to portray Sonja working through this darkness has been nothing short of brilliant. It is disturbed and utterly excellent.
During this issue, Sonja is mostly drifting between the realms of consciousness, unconsciousness, and death. She is on the edge and having to rely on others to fight her battles to defend her. Much of Simone’s writing reflects on the inner workings of Sonja’s thoughts with interactions covering the others and their responses to Sonja, her current state, and the things that are hurtling her way at a strong creepy crawly pace. The wizard she had killed who cursed her has a brother named Katharas Ra who is none too pleased that his bro has brought shame on their brand of morbid magic. He has come to bring doom to those who dare defy him and his brother. On Sonja’s side, we have a firemaker named Havan who is currently having some dysfunction problems in getting his flame on. And we have a slathering of villagers of whom Sonja beat one nearly to death who are pondering what to do with the threats at hand. Things are not looking good. But as Simone writes through the issue, you see the inner workings of respect and remorse that are beginning to brew even if our hero cannot feel remorse at this time. It is strong magic that might just help bring Sonja back from the brink while simultaneously bringing empowerment to those who have been fearful for far too long. It is masterful writing that makes you want to scream a big “Hell Yeah” as you see the conclusion come to pass.
With Geovani, his art impresses with every turn. The “hard core” part begins this issue and the end finishes it. Geovani is amazing with his use of portraying emotion and strength while also bringing swagger to his depictions. It plays to Simone’s writing perfectly and adds enhancement to the “Hell Yeah” moment that is reached. You believe that these formally meek folks have found their footing, even in the face of impending disgusting death. It is inspiring and even motivates our lady of vengeance to her feet as well.
Color for this issue is done by committee as Adriano Lucas, Alex Guimaraes, and Marco Lesko work the brights, the lights, and the darks. As I had mentioned earlier, Sonja is hard core here. And I believe that it took about three guys to hit the mixture just right. They all nail it putting Simone’s words and Geovani’s drawings to a powerful brush stroke that impresses, especially the battle scenes.
There are few titles that have captured my love month in and month out. There are even fewer that can maintain it for so long. Red Sonja for Simone and Geovani’s run has been one such title. I can’t really think of a bad issue that I have read. It has been the best portrayal of the She Devil that I have encountered. And as Issue #15 ends, I do not see any sign of things stopping. Sonja is way far away from being out of this darkness as of yet and her biggest challenge still awaits her with the next issue. And it looks as she may be going this new challenge alone too. Just another opportunity for Simone and Geovani to nail it.
Red Sonja #15 Writer: Gail Simone Artist: Walter Geovani Colorists: Adriano Lucas, Alex Guimaraes, and Marco Lesko Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/25/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital