In issue 13, Sonja killed a sorcerer who cursed her with the inability to forgive, and later ran across the last surviving member of the gang that killed her family and her village. The following story arc is an intense one where Sonja not only struggled with her increased violent nature, but with the sorcerer’s even more powerful brother. The resulting fight brought Sonja to the brink of death, and that’s where the last issue left off.
Red Sonja 16 is split between the title barbarian’s encounter with Death herself and the physical world, where a number of people have arrived to pay their respects. It’s a great issue that deals with Red Sonja’s internal struggles, along with the influence her actions have brought on the many she’s saved from bandits, tyrants and of course, evil sorcerers. Included in the crowds are a number of characters who have appeared throughout Gail Simone’s run. Although her run isn’t over yet, this issue feels like a culmination of Simone’s work on the character so far. After the main story, Sonja finally tracks down the murderer of her family. The scene plays out in a way that’s not all that surprising, but it’s perfectly fitting for Sonja’s character development in this arc and carries a touch of Simone’s sense of humour that makes her take on Sonja so much fun.
The art by Walter Geovani is great. In the afterlife, Death takes Sonja’s usual appearance, just with completely black skin and red clothing. It makes one wonder if Sonja’s really slipping into the afterlife, or if she’s just imagining things in her near-death state. Meanwhile, the real world scenes are complete with detailed backgrounds and a wide variety of outfits from the vast number of characters. Everyone is recognizable, which must have taken a lot of effort. Facial expressions perfectly capture characters’ moods, whether it’s Sonja’s determination while dueling Death, the sadness of everyone paying their respects or the mixed emotions shown during the comic’s final pages.
This is a fantastic comic, and while I haven’t yet decided which of this week’s is my favourite, Red Sonja 16 is up there. Before Simone’s run, I never thought I would stick with a barbarian story for more than a couple issues. She’s turned me into a fan. Fans of barbarian stories should check this series out if they haven’t already, and the same goes for Gail Simone fans.