More than 3 years ago, I read an issue of Queen Sonja and thought it was ok. I found the warriors in bikini armour a bit weird and didn’t enjoy the story all that much. At that point I didn’t think I’d read another Red Sonja comic, but then Gail Simone started this new run. Having enjoyed Simone’s work in the past, I cracked and gave it a shot. I’m aware that Simone changed a fair amount of this character’s mythos for this series, but she also turned me into a fan.
Red Sonja 18 concludes Gail Simone’s run on the title, and it’s a satisfying end to a thoroughly enjoyable series. In the last issue, Sonja protected a tower library from a tyrant queen who wanted it burned, and the issue’s cliffhanger showed the queen hiring three master assassins to kill the She Devil. Meanwhile, the librarians read stories to an illiterate Red Sonja and she finds herself feeling at peace. This issue picks up where the last left off.
This comic opens with a Hyrkanian legend (the culture Red Sonja grew up in) about a child who tricks a bear god. It’s a clever way to begin the comic, and the story influences Red Sonja’s tactics against the master assassin trio. The fight is intense, with brutal violence and strategy being utilized on both sides. This comic is lighter on the humorous dialogue that kept this series entertaining, but the dramatic elements to tie Simone’s run together works better in this case. This is especially so after the fight, where Sonja finds a new look and purpose in life. Whether this new purpose will continue on when Red Sonja returns or not remains to be seen, and we’re all sure she will return sooner or later.
The art by Walter Geovani is fantastic. The Hyrkanian story at the beginning takes on a simpler, classic feel for the art while the main story looks more conventional. Both styles are very well detailed with expressive faces, a good variety of armour on the assassins and plenty of background detail. The fight scene flows smooth and there’s a good amount of blood. The colouring by Vinicius Andrade is also fantastic. The main comic is bright and colourful even though it takes place at night, and the legend takes an overall red hue that adds to the storytelling effect.
Fans of barbarian comics who haven’t given Gail Simone’s Red Sonja run should; it’s a great series that mixes fun moments, dramatic storytelling and some good legends as backstory. I would include the Legendary Red Sonja mini-series in this. For those who have been reading and enjoying this run, be sure to pick this one up.