In the last issue, Sonja led an army into a hopeless battle, lost and discovered that she was infected by the plague. This issue starts several days afterward with her wandering in self-exile in the snowy landscape. She’s nearing death.
Gail Simone uses this scenario to explore both Sonja’s past and her beliefs, and it works brilliantly. As she begins to lose hope, memories of how her village was destroyed reminds her of why she’s a fighter. It’s a tragic back story that would make almost anyone a loner for years to come. Yet despite all the pain, it also empowers her.
The only real problem I have, and this is fairly minor, is that she seems to move too quickly from not being able to shoot a deer to killing a bunch of hardened warriors. Both of these moments work in their own right, but at least a few days between them probably would have worked a bit better. One could also argue that the cliffhanger is kind of cheap, but it didn’t really bother me.
The art in this issue is pretty much perfect. The environmental detail in the snowy forest is very impressive with all the leafless trees and the icy water standing out from the snow. Sonja’s expressions are that of determination even through her growing fatigue and hopelessness. The village attack in the flashbacks are probably the most visually impressive scenes though, as all of the villagers and attackers have a slightly different appearance. The leader of the attackers has a great and intimidating design. In the flashbacks, Sonja is definitely younger yet still recognizable.
As good as the first two issues were I wasn’t convinced to stick with this series. I’m not usually a fan of barbarian stories, not even in movie form. After reading this issue twice though, I’m kind of hooked. It’s a rebooted series about a barbarian (who happens to be a woman) written by one of the most well-known and respected female comic writers. If you’re into these kind of stories, you should give this series a chance.