Review: Red Sonja - Sanctuary

A couple of years ago, writer Marc Mason penned a little Red Sonja one-shot entitled Raven. It involved Sonja and her discovery through an investigation of murders of another “sword arm” of the goddess Scathach that was a total mirror opposite of our beloved She Devil. And it was pretty good too addressing interesting issues on what it meant to be an arm of vengeance and an arm of mercy. Not too bad at all. Now here we are two years later and Mason has hit off a sequel of sorts to the Raven story. It is entitled Sanctuary and it takes place a little bit of time later. When Sonja left Raven, she left her powerless and at the mercy of a young girl named Eleanor who had sworn to kill Raven as an act of vengeance regarding the murder of her father by Raven’s hand. In this story, Sonja goes to meet young Eleanor at a convent type setting where women are allowed to live within walls of safety and without the dangers presented to them on the outside world. It is a pretty good operation and Sonja herself is taken aback at how peaceful and free the “Sanctuary” is to all the inhabitants who reside there…To include the once lethal and destructive Raven (cue the sinister music). But lo and behold, Raven who was given mercy by Eleanor has begun to use her talents for building rather than destroying. Life is good and things look great…But you know that will all change quickly.

This story starts off okay with the Raven shock. Then, it gets all softy on story. The place is wonderful, a paradise, free… free… free! It takes way too much time for the bad things to happen (which are pretty bad), but kind of predictable too. In reading a lot of Red Sonja throughout the years, it just didn’t feel right seeing the She Devil settling down anywhere. But that is about what happens here. I found Sonja to be kind of wishy washy and not the profound and determined ferocious female fighting femme that she normally is. Everything was just way too predictable where you kind of know what will happen to whom, when, and why. I think that Mason was working hard to capture these intense emotions regarding one’s life and choices, but it never quite gelled to the level of his Raven story. This one was kind of a Sonja light, rather than the full flavored taste deserved of the title.

RSSanctuary-Cov-Davila copy 2I actually like Noah Solonga’s art throughout this piece. It holds up well and makes a nice transition from action to mellow. There is no denying that this Sanctuary is a true paradise for women. Everybody is drawn with a happiness and content that elicits the emotion well. But Solonga doesn’t stop there. He kicks the drawing in to brutal gear when the action does start that works well all the way through.

I think that this might of and could have been a good work had not so much attention been applied to the Sanctuary itself. I recognize what Mason was doing, I just don’t know if he hit the mark with it really. Still, it is written well enough to fall under the “OK” aspect. There is no mind blowing revelation here. But, it plays for a reasonable read that is nowhere near the level of sucktom that I have seen in other versions of Red Sonja. All in all, a decent try.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Marc Mason Artist: Noah Solonga Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $4.99 Release Date: 6/18/14 Format: One-Shot, Print/Digital