Comic Book Review: Red Sonja Vol. 1 by Gail Simone

Happy New Comic Book Day! Last week I reviewed Gail Simone’s original graphic novel Leaving Megalopolis, so I thought why not get a double dose of Simone by trying out her Red Sonja ongoing series.
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I got my copy from Paradise Comics and couldn’t wait to give it a read. As a LOTR, ASOIAF and D&D lover as well as having studied Beowulf in school, historical fantasy is right up my alley. All I knew about the series was that it was sword and sorcery, which was always a genre I was interested in but never knew where to start.
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Well, I chose the right starting point. This book is wildly fun. First off, you don’t need to know anything about Red Sonja before diving headfirst. It’s not totally a reboot if my understanding is correct, but her past is definitely explored. How to describe Sonja? Some might say she’s similar to Wonder Woman which is sorta true since they’re both warriors but Sonja is very unique and unlike any character I’ve ever read. I do have to say the part where Sonja was blindfolded reminded me of when Wonder Woman was blind.
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The story was immediately engaging, I mean this is Gail we’re talking about, she gets right down to the action. In Vol. 1 “Queen of Plagues”, the She-Devil with a sword wants to repay a debt she owes a king but encounters armies, a mysterious plague and someone from her past. Sonja is hilariously unapologetic about who she is, what she stands for and her love of drink, which I absolutely enjoyed. Like Power Girl, she wears what she wants to and looks amazing in that chain-mail bikini. Where can I get one? In true Simone fashion, the heart of the story revolves around sisterhood and the relationships between the female characters. Sonja may not need people to help her kick ass but she works best when she’s interacting with other characters. I loved her bodyguards, Ayla and Nias:
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While they may not be as ferocious as Sonja, they make up for it with their unwavering perseverance and kindness. They’re also pretty damn brave. However, the main focus of this volume is the connection between Red Sonja and Dark Annisia.
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Their relationship really made this story. Don’t get me wrong, of course I liked the battle scenes, the fights, the gore and the intrigue, but without Annisia, this would’ve just been a very black and white story. I won’t ruin the ending but as per usual, Gail finds the balance between a fun, bloody hack and slash romp and a heartwarming story about love and sisterhood. Plus did I mention how great the art is? Walter Geovani does a stellar job depicting the action scenes and especially the gorgeous women. It took me longer to read because I was just taking every panel in.

The trade also has the script of the first issue which was fun to read. But more importantly, it includes all of the wonderful variant covers done by some of the best female artists in comics, like Nicola Scott and Amanda Conner just to name a few. My favorite ones have to be Agnes Garbowska’s. I highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to read Sonja’s next adventure.

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