Much like she did with the first volume of the new series, Gail Simone continues to make Red Sonja current and relevant, as well having Sonja sticking to her barbarian roots. One of the things that most people forget is that Sonja was essentially created as a female equivalent of Conan. She likes to fight, she likes to drink and she likes to have fun. Aside from the fighting, the latter two have been left to the wayside for many years in favour of more traditional, fantasy-type stories and those nontraditional as well such as the time she had become a vampire. Yes, a vampire. So when Simone came on board as a writer, one of the things she did was return Sonja to her roots, and actually portrays her as the woman she should have always been. It is a little jarring to see her as such, because most readers will not be used to seeing her like this, instead being used to the fighting machine that she usually is. But it is a welcome change and it is reinvigorating to say the very least.
This storyline sees our heroine hired on to do a favour for a dying king. Said king wants the best of the best, people that is, and he will pay or do whatever it takes to acquire them. If the cost is to free his army of slaves, then so be it, to which Sonja agrees and sets off on her task. Through trial and travail, Sonja makes her way across the land gathering the men and women she needs for the celebration the king is going to hold. Through it all though, Sonja finds that engaging an army is sometimes easier than getting someone to bed her, or even finding a simple drink. Once everything is accomplished though things are not going to be as easy as she thought and this would not be a Red Sonja tale without her having to battle it out in the end.
There is one thing that has been missing in Red Sonja’s world for quite some time, and though Simone would have you believe it is a bath, it is in fact the use of humour. Red Sonja has never been a book where you would expect to find a laugh or two and in this volume, there are actually quite a few. Whether it is in reference to Sonja’s unwashed self, her inability to find a good beer or a good lay or the whole sequence where the cook tries to broaden her palate with delectable foods, there has never been this much humour in a Sonja book before and it has never been more welcome. Injecting this title with a little lighthearted fun really makes it move forward at a pace much more brisk than it has ever known before, and simply for the fact that you enjoy it so much. In fact, while a lot of her appearances in the Marvel Conan run were good, and her solo titles enjoyable, this run has been better than all of them. Not only are you having fun as you read this book, but you can tell that Simone is having fun writing it and that makes it all the better.
Along for the ride is Walter Geovani, whose artwork is spectacular and perhaps the best he has ever put out during his time at Dynamite. What is also amazing is that he has been on the book for more than six issues as by this point in time, Dynamite would usually swap out a good artist for one that would be, let us call it sub-par or ‘not as good.’ The fact that he does remain on the title shows that either the sales warranted it or Dynamite has some faith in the book, which is a good thing because currently, out of the entire crop that they produce, this is one of the top books they publish. Geovani is fast becoming one of the best artists in the Dynamite stable, and outside of Frank Thorne, possibly the best artist to draw the flame-haired warrior.
One could really go on and on describing just how good Red Sonja has become. Looking at it from a production standpoint, the book is put together extremely well and from a story perspective, one of the most enjoyable titles put out by any company. When this title started, it was almost as if Gail Simone was given the reins by the publisher and told to do whatever she wanted, because these are stories we have never seen the like of before. All that can really be said after reading the finished product is, lucky for us.
4.5 out of 5