Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Story: Marguerite Bennett
Release Date: 22nd June, 2016
And so the latest Red Sonja arc draws to a close, with Sonja’s growing army of revolutionaries leading their assault on King Savas to reclaim the Falcon Throne with the fate of Hyrkania at stake.
With such a slow and steady buildup, the final showdown is every bit as tense and dramatic as I’d hoped, with all of the remaining players coming together as events reach their inevitable – and somewhat logical – conclusion. The payoff is definitely worth the journey here, although it has to be said that the final few pages serve little purpose other than to facilitate a fantastic send-off splash page from artist Aneke.
Speaking of the visuals; I honestly think I’ve said pretty much all I can say about the artwork of the series in my reviews of the first five issues. Aneke has some genuine talent, as can clearly be evidenced from any of the Roc sequences (one of which you can feast your peepers on below), but the uniformity of her female characters continues to distract and her fight scenes occasionally have both an awkward ‘posed’ quality and an odd sense of sterility to them. That said, there are some strong visual beats here which she embraces with gusto, making this one of the better looking issues of the series so far – a good thing, given the emotional heft that Bennett delivers with her script.
Okay, so it’s not quite Shakespeare, but Bennett has done a truly admirable job of presenting her own unique take on this iconic character. Rather than focusing on Sonja the warrior, this series has portrayed Sonja more as a grudging politician and would-be revolutionary, trying to overthrow a disingenuous ruler by winning back the hearts and minds of her people. Sure, she did get to kick some ass along the way (and even hunt, tame and ride a Roc, for gawd’s sake!), but this was definitely a far more cerebral look at the She-Devil than some stories I’ve read in the past, and was – in my opinion – all the better for it.
Looking back at the arc as a whole, it’s clear that Bennett had some really interesting ideas about Sonja, and placing her into the role of somewhat reluctant saviour of Hyrkania worked beautifully to accentuate Sonja’s own unique character traits, as well as emphasising her larger-than-life status to the everyday Hyrkanians. We also got a chance to explore some of Sonja’s appeal as a love interest, with the entire story effectively being based around one of her spurned ex-lovers trying to prove his worth, and several of her other former partners featuring prominently during the course of the series. Everybody loves Sonja it seems, and based on her strong, direct and unapologetic portrayal in this series, I can definitely see why.
As a finished arc, it’s also far easier to appreciate the journey the characters have undergone, and I can say now that this is undoubtedly a story which is going to read a lot better in a collected volume than in single issues. It’s not perfect, and the series has had its ups and downs along the way, but this final chapter delivers a strong denouement which, while not exactly ground-breaking or revolutionary, definitely keeps the pages turning right until the very end. A boldly unconventional take on the She-Devil then, and hopefully the start of a long, enjoyable relationship between Red Sonja and Marguerite Bennett.
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