Red Sonja #1 by Gail Simone – Friday Flash Review [Shadowhawk]
Shadowhawk takes a look at the first issue of the rebooted Red Sonja as the TFF Friday Comics Reviews finally get a name-branding.
“This is exactly the sort of first issue I was looking for and I can say with full confidence that Gail Simone is off to a rocking start!” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
Red Sonja #1 is an issue I’ve been looking forward to ever since Dynamite announced the news all the way at this year’s Emerald City Con in March. As a fan of both the writer and the character, this was extremely good news for me. Anyone who follows my blog and my reviews knows that I hold Gail to be one of the top writers in the industry. I covered my appreciation of her work most recently in my “Gail Simone, Dark Horse, Tomb Raider” post. And Red Sonja, I’ve been a fan of the character ever since I read the first two Red Sonja Omnibuses from Dynamite. I saw the ill-fated movie as well last year, and while it was quite a disappointment in a lot of ways, I still enjoyed watching Red Sonja. There are a lot of things that can be said about Red Sonja, both good and bad, but it can’t be denied that Red Sonja has inspired numerous authors over the years into creating characters who emulate the same characteristics as her.
That’s the kind of legacy that Red Sonja has brought to the world of fiction. She is a pulp icon as much as someone like Vampirella or Conan or John Carter or anyone else.
Coming into Red Sonja #1 I was looking for a comic that would take a step away from the usual action-adventure with loads of badassery and do something different. This is the style of comics that I’ve come to expect from Gail Simone and I wanted her to do something similar for Sonja. And she does, in spades.
Sure, there are some action scenes in the issue. In fact, it starts off in the aftermath of one battle and ends just as another battle begins. But it is every single page in between that matters. These are the pages that define Red Sonja in this issue and which will undoubtedly set the tone for the rest of the series should Gail continue along the same line in future issues, of which I have no doubt.
The issue is a character study of sorts that serves to place Sonja within the larger context of the world of Hyboria. We see her interact with all sorts of characters. We see her as not just a fighter of exceptional skill, but also as a leader, a hero. Someone to both admire and look up to, and even connect with. Even though I was expecting some of this to happen over the course of the issue, I was still surprised every few pages by all the neat little twists that Gail worked in.
And I won’t ignore the humour either. There isn’t a lot of it, but there is enough there to make you think: “she’s BADASS”. If I had to make a comparison, I suppose I’d compare her to Daario Naharis from Game of Thrones (the television series, which I’ve seen and not the books, which I haven’t). Or perhaps even Ser Raven from Helen Lowe’s Gathering of the Lost, the second novel in her Wall of Night series from Orbit/Harper Voyager.
There are a fair number of twists in the story and every single one of them left me impressed with the way that Gail pulled it off. Where the story is concerned, I was more than impressed. Gail has taken another character under her wing and done something wonderful.
Walter Geovani is the artist on this issue and once again, as he did on Ron Marz’s Prophecy, he has delivered another great-looking book. His art is of the same caliber as that of Stjepan Sejic (Artifacts, Ravine), Ivan Reis/Joe Prado (Aquaman and Justice League), Amanda Conner (Silk Spectre, Power Girl), Fiona Staples (Saga) and others that I hold in high esteem. These are all artists that I’ve grown to expect great things out of and they rarely, if ever, disappoint. They are consistent and remarkable with their art, Walter not being an exception to that. His lines are all clean, his characters expressive with both expression and body language, his panels full of details and neat little touches.
I have no criticism of his art at all, aside from a mid-issue panel which introduces two minor characters. The way the panel was setup in relation to other panels on the same page, it was as if the two of them appeared out of thin air. It wasn’t clear that they’d jumped in from off-screen. An extra panel showing them nearby, ready to spring, would have been perfect. Perhaps this is also a story issue?
Either way, this was the only niggle in what is otherwise a fantastic issue. In a final assessment, this niggle certainly didn’t impact on my enjoyment of the issue at all. It was a weird moment, nothing more.
The wait for issue #2, out next month, is going to be long!