Story: Marguerite Bennett
Artwork: Aneke, Jorge Sutil
Release Date: 17th February, 2016
The first issue of this brand new series saw Sonja declining the offer to become Queen of Hyrkania, only to find herself effectively out of work as the new King’s regime helped revitalise the nation, leaving its citizens safe and content. Never has the phrase “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is” been more true however, as the cracks rapidly began to form, leaving Sonja in a violent skirmish with the seemingly corrupt Royal Guard – the ruthless “Black Talons”.
This issue sees the (admittedly somewhat predictable) result of this skirmish, and follows Sonja’s investigations as she tries to root out the full scale of the corruption. Writer Marguerite Bennett clearly has a firm grasp of her character’s voice, and injects a sense of tragic humour into the proceedings with Sonja’s repeated refusal to believe that the aggressive, xenophobic behaviour of the Hyrkanian citizens can be the result of anything less than demonic mind control.
While artist Aneke’s work is undoubtedly beautiful, with expressive characters and impressive panel layouts aplenty, her style doesn’t necessarily transfer all that well to the action sequences, with a slight awkwardness to the posing and a sanitised, oddly disconnected feel to the combat. There also seems to be a worrying uniformity to her character’s faces, with almost every female character we encounter here looking like the same woman in a different wig. That said, there are some truly stunning pages to be found here, and her un-objectified and utterly ass-kicking depiction of Sonja herself is definitely a thing of beauty.
The reveal in the final pages is, sadly, telegraphed quite heavily, but the deft execution from the creators – not to mention Sonja’s reaction – really helps to sell the storyline beat, setting up the next chapter perfectly. As my colleague Christopher mentioned in his review of issue one, this isn’t necessarily reinventing the Red Sonja wheel, but rather inserting the She Devil into a curiously conflicted scenario; a delicate situation that she may not be able to hack or slash her way out of. In that respect, this series has most definitely grabbed my attention, and I’m finding myself deeply curious to find out what happens next. Count me in with this one, for the next issue at least.
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