There comes a point in every story where something happens that will allow the story to define itself and begin its ascent into something real good (or bad). It happens in nearly every medium and can be something simple as a small action, a well placed word, or just simply an addition that makes everything fall into place. I think in Red Sonja #9, we have had that moment in the current story arc. This story has found its identity and now things are falling into place that will personify this arc and make it into what it is becoming, which is a pretty damn good tale. For the past couple of issues, we have been following Sonja in pursuit of the world’s greatest artisans. Sonja has taken a bet with a dying pharaoh to find these artisans so that they may do their artisan thing for an end of life party for this king. Making the bet interesting and giving Sonja the motivation that she needs, the fate of 1000 slaves hang in the balance as they will be granted freedom with Sonja’s success, or death with her failure. Thus far, Sonja has braved, inbred sexually deviant swamp people with amazing taste pallets, draconian animal trainers. And on a more personal note, extreme dirtiness and body odor that apparently is putting a pretty big barrier up on helping Sonja meet her more (cough) personal needs.
With Issue #9, the dirtiness continues as our favorite She Devil battles driving rain and mud to bag the world’s most amazing courtesan or “prostitute” as we would call her today. The story would seem simple enough, Sonja enters into a pleasure paradise after days of toil and loneliness on a personal level, and her senses (and loins) are thrown off-balance as she enters upon a virtual pleasure dome of passion and love. It is interesting to see Sonja in such a weakened position as well as her arguments with herself at being brought down by those weaknesses. That’s the simple story.
The more complex story covers Sonja once she secures our courtesan and a vicious pursuit occurring by the pimp, er uh, defender of the pleasure dome. We get a back story that really addresses something much deeper than a just a prostitute’s story. We get something heavy like what beauty means and in how warriors and prostitutes might not be as different as we would think. We get a deepness to go with the action that also occurs as the pimp, er uh, defender of the pleasure dome catches up to a “transformed” Sonja and our courtesan.
Gail Simone’s writing has been in peak form recently but in spite of all the goodness, this story to date hasn’t quite matched up to the Queen of Plagues story arc. I have been pleased with the more lighthearted nature of this tale. But the story has been missing that moment which would define it. I am happy to report that that moment has occurred here when the courtesan’s back story is presented. Something personal hits home here. And I think though this is still a more lighthearted tale compared to the Queen of Plagues. That it will be every bit as interesting as that one was.
With Walter Geovani and his art in this issue (and everything so far), he nails it. He actually has to do something that hasn’t really been done in a Red Sonja title in this one. He has to make her look rough. And that is just what he does. Sonja does look every bit of the stinky, dirty mess that she is described as during these pages. Even she recognizes it. Mr. Geovani takes care of business here and he puts the “beauty” portion of the art to fall under our courtesan who is drawn to be an angel, but not overly sexed out as she could have been drawn. She, in spite of her profession, is a woman of distinction and control. And she is thoroughly drawn that way.
I think with this issue, the Queen of the Plagues arc can finally be put to rest and placed within the stuff of legend. A new arc is underway and it now has hit its moment that has defined it and sets the tone for the rest of the way. The swordsman is the next artisan to be found. And you can bet your ass, that there is going to be one hell of a fight. Things are coming up Sonja now in this excellent title.
Writer: Gail Simone Artist: Walter Geovani Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/7/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital