The all-star anthology mini-series continues to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Red Sonja. The project is led by Gail Simone, and each issue has two or three other famous female comic writers to pen their own mini-story. The first two issues were wonderful, and while the third issue’s stories didn’t blend together quite as well, it was still entertaining. This issue may actually be the best one yet, although I’m slightly biased in that sense. As usual, I’ll talk about each story separately.
The main story is starting to come to a close. A group of hunters is searching for the She Devil to avenge the death of their prince. She killed one of them in the last issue, and the remaining hunters are growing afraid. Only a few of them remain firm in their quest. Her sections are used to link the stories together, and as always they do a fine job. It also caps off the issue with yet another hunter rendered unable to fight Sonja, but for completely different reasons. It also builds up the climax beautifully.
The first guest writer is Mercades Lackey, who I’ve never heard of before. Through research, I found that she’s much bigger into novels than comics. Her story is from the perspective of a kid who was rescued by Sonja several years before. It’s a quick little tale, but a great one at that. The art is split into two columns – the left is how the kid remembers the rescue, while the right is what actually happened. It expertly depicts how our own memories can deceive us, especially childhood memories. Hilariously, Sonja even mistakes the girl for a boy.
The second story teams Marjorie Liu up with Phil Noto on page for the first time since X-23’s solo series, and that was the series that first brought me into comics. In this story, Red Sonja searches for a treasure in the forest, but instead rescues the magical spirit that embodies the forest. The initial confrontation with the captor witch ends hilariously, but what follows is what really shines. Her actions inspire the creation of another forest spirit, and one that acts as a guardian of the woods. Phil Noto’s art is excellent as usual, perfectly depicting subtle facial expressions and visual storytelling through backgrounds. It’s a strange tale, but a brilliant one that merges great action and sentimentality in only 9 pages. By the looks of it, this story might also affect the main story’s climax. This story makes me remember how much I like Liu’s X-23 run, even though it’s very different.
If you’re a long-time fan of the character, this series is pretty much a must read. For new readers, it’s probably better to check out Simone’s main title before this one, but this is certainly worth reading. It’s a fun way to explore the character from as many types of perspectives as possible. In other words, just buy it.