Review: Gail Simone’s Red Sonja #1

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THIS IS IT. Red Sonja gets a fresh new attitude by the dream team of writer GAIL SIMONE (Batgirl, Birds of Prey) and artist WALTER GEOVANI (Prophecy, Witchblade), on the book they were born to create. Sonja pays back a blood debt owed to the one man who has gained her respect, even if it means leading a doomed army to their certain deaths!

red coverThe highly anticipated debut of Gail Simone’s Red Sonja arrives today. The story by Simone features art by Walter Geovani, colors by Adriano Lucas, and letters by Simon Bowland. We’ve been hearing a lot about Simone’s new series and it sold out weeks ago. So does the premiere issue live up to the hype?

The story opens at the end of a huge battle. King Dimath, his son, and one of his soldiers are surveying the battlefield and going over what happened during the big clash. They are going over who survived on the opponent’s side, mainly women and children. No soldiers or men-at-arms are around, but there are eight prisoners in the dungeon who were worked as slaves and made to fight to the death for sport. Two of the eight live, and the decision on what to do with them must be made. The two survivors aren’t fearsome male warriors, they’re two women. You can guess who one of them is. The story then flashes forward three turns of the seasons where Sonja has set up camp in the woods and is trying to sleep off a bad hangover. She is set upon by three bandits who try to rob her. They don’t call Sonja the She-devil with a blade for nothing. During the skirmish, two young women with bows and arrows appear to lend aid to Sonja. They’ve never killed anything bigger than a rabbit, so they’re less help and more of a hindrance. Afterwards, they tell Sonja that they have been sent by Dimath as her bodyguards to help escort her to his kingdom. Once Sonja arrives, she finds out that Dimath is in great need of her talents. Being the only man that ever showed her kindness, will Sonja repay the favor? Will what he asks be too much of a suicide mission for Sonja to even consider?

Simone writes a great introductory issue. While it’s not necessary to read any other stories to get what’s going on, it helps if you at least know a little about the Red She-Devil (that’s referring to Sonja, not Simone). It’s not an explosive first issue, but it sets things up and really pulls the reader in. Simone writes and Geovani draws a Sonja that is less cheesecake and more deadly buttkicker. Geovani’s art is great. He draws fantastic sword-and-sorcery/medieval settings and characters, but he gives Sonja her own little flare to show she’s different and truly something deadly in a world that doesn’t quite accept those types of women.

Bottom Line: Gail Simone’s Red Sonja lives up to the hype. It’s not high octane action, but things are set up wonderfully and we get the starting blows of the battle we know is coming. Simone handles the character well and makes her stronger and more believable than we’ve seen in more recent tales. Judging from the sales before it ever came out, you’re probably reading this. If you’re not, you should. 4/5

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