Story: Marguerite Bennett
Release Date: 18th May, 2016
That’s all it took for this latest installment of Marguerite Bennett’s run as Red Sonja writer to become my favourite issue of the series so far. And if you take a moment to cast your eyes down to the preview artwork at the bottom of the page, you’ll see exactly why.
This brand new arc has adopted a fairly cerebral approach to this point, with Sonja’s spurned former lover Savas becoming the King of Hyrkania, helped in no small part by his success in stirring up the Xenophobia of his people. And while there have been brief flourishes of action along the way, this has been more a war of minds and propaganda than one of swords and shields. However, as you can see below, with Sonja heading off and attempting to capture a mother-frickin’ Roc in order to bring the full might of her revolution to Savas’s doorstep, it’s pretty obvious that business is about to pick up in a major way.
In just a handful of issues with the character, Bennett has developed a strong, unique voice for Sonja. A lot more thoughtful and contemplative than in some of her previous incarnations, this is a She Devil who shines far more in her conversations than in her swordplay (although, y’know, the Roc-wrangling is pretty damn awesome). Bennett has also done an impressive job of establishing an solid cast of supporting characters for the arc, with actress and scribe Midyan – herself another of Sonja’s former lovers – really coming into her own during the course of this issue, proving that she’s so much more than a mere “damsel in distress”.
Once again, Aneke’s artwork features the same strengths – and the same flaws – as previous issues. Sonja herself looks fantastic, but the worrying similarity between her female characters, both in terms of facial structure and body type, can be a little distracting at times. That said, she absolutely nails the aforementioned Roc sequences, filling the pages with a sense of kinetic dynamism that has been sorely missing from the series so far. The colours, provided here by Jorge Sutil, round things out nicely, remaining solid for the most part but absolutely exploding to life in – yes, you guessed it – those damn Roc sequences.
Overall then, while the pacing has been a little uneven thus far, this issue manages to bring everything together effectively, setting the table for what should be a brutal and dramatic showdown. Sonja is undoubtedly a character whose appeal can ebb and flow depending on the writer behind her, but in Marguerite Bennett, the She Devil has found an exciting new voice and a wholly unfamiliar situation to thrive in. Highly recommended for any and all fans of this iconic character.
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