In the last issue, Red Sonja slayed a sorcerer who preyed on a small village. In his dying words, the sorcerer cursed Sonja with the inability to forgive anyone for anything. The curse led her to nearly pound a man to death just for spilling beer on her, and having spotted the man who killed her father years ago, she’s on a quest for revenge. Meanwhile, the sorcerer’s brother also declared revenge.
Needless to say, this comic is dark. Sonja’s inability to forgive is placing her in mortal danger, along with anyone who would otherwise aid in her travels. It’s clear that she hates the curse and wants to rid herself of it, and it’s tearing her apart inside. Meanwhile, she gives her father’s killer the most intimidating speech I’ve read in a while when they finally meet – a speech that’s only matched by her ferocity when she fights the warriors he hired. The evil sorcerer pursuing her is a nasty fellow, who seems to command anyone with mere words. Not only is Sonja’s curse a powerful way to explore her character, but the sorcerer is a legitimately frightening villain.
The art by Walter Geovani is very good. There’s a wide variety of detailed environments, from the village’s tavern complete with barrels of ale behind the counter to the rainy woods complete with running streams and fallen trees. There’s a page full of flashbacks that mesh together perfectly without separate panels, showing Sonja’s angry face in full colour beside the faded memories from her past. The action flows smooth, with just the right amount of blood to emphasize the violence without being over the top. And as for the sorcerer’s method of dealing with the villagers in the tavern, well … let’s just say it’s delightfully disturbing.
Gail Simone’s run on Red Sonja has been great from the start, but this particular arc really shows how versatile Red Sonja can be as a character. It shows a venerable side to contrast her ferocious nature. Some write Sonja off as a pin-up character at best, in fact I used to be one of them, but there are very few female characters more hardcore than the She-Devil with a sword. Being the second issue in this arc, it’s not a bad place to start with her since everything you need to know is explained in this issue. Why not check her out if you enjoy barbarian stories?