Gail Simone’s run on Red Sonja has been fantastic, and with the penultimate issue of her run upon us, the writer takes it up another notch.
Previously in Red Sonja: The She-Devil with a Sword has had a number of interesting adventures over the last year, and in each installment, the character grows and learns more about herself and her place in the world. But there is one thing she must still overcome… her past.
SHE DOESN’T READ OR WRITE
This issue starts with the aftermath of an orgy that looks to have been started (or at least finished) by Sonja. And while the titillation factor may drive readers to the book, this issue is definitely not about sex, drunks, and the morning after. Through the chaos, a group of nuns appear to recruit Sonja to help defend the Citadel of All Knowledge (a giant library) from the ruler of the land, who wants it burned down.
If this were a comic set in modern times, the public relations arm of Dynamite Entertainment would be claiming that this is a story ripped from the headlines and brought to you in full color. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, there are warlords around the world that believe book learning and knowledge of its populace is a bad thing, and still more countries that forbid women from going to school. The thinking is that it is easier to control an ignorant population than an informed one, as a populace that questions its leaders often leads to a turnover in bad leadership.
At first Sonja doesn’t want to help the nuns as she also doesn’t believe in books or learning, and through a series of guilty memory flashbacks, we learn the reason why – Sonja was never good at school. Though she tried, she was constantly belittled by her more successful brothers, who made fun of her abilities. Though Gail Simone doesn’t use the word stupid in Sonja’s inner monologue, it is clear that Sonja’s brothers used the word constantly to bring the heroine down.
Again, in today’s modern society, telling girls that they are too stupid to learn, has resulted in a lack of women in STEM industries (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Those that are in the industry are often belittled or made fun of – much like Sonja’s first reaction to those running and protecting the Citadel of All Knowledge. It’s incredibly disappointing to see a society that looks at gender as a measure of intelligence, but with a greater push in the education system to encourage women in STEM it will turn around as people realize their error in reasoning.
Once Sonja recognizes her mistake, she returns to fight off the sheriff and his men who are attempting to seize the library. The elder nun is killed, and a number or books are burned, but Sonja recognizes that her faults are not to be put upon others and is wiling to try and learn from the nuns.
To keep everything balanced, the ruler of the land is one of the worst characters I’ve seen in comics in recent years. She’s willing to slit the throat of a young handmaiden who pulled one too many hairs from the queen’s head while brushing, and she has no problem killing anyone who crosses her path. Her reactions to Sonja’s decision to aid the nuns of the library, set up the big showdown next issue.
FANTASTIC GEOVANI ART
While Simone’s writing shines in this issue, Walter Geovani’s art is right up there with some of the best I’ve seen in recent months. Walter’s character work is fantastic in this issues, especially in the action scenes. Though those specific moments get a little bloody and graphic the composition and framing of each panel, as well as the fluid movement is excellent.
If you listened to this week’s Dueling Review podcast, you are already aware that the upcoming Red Sonja/Conon crossover for next week features Red Sonja wearing her classic ’70s chain mail bikini. Though many did not like the change in the current run, I do like seeing Sonja wearing something more suited for a warrior who crosses swords with ruffians on a regular basis.
If I have one complaint it is that two of the nuns look very similar to one another in their introductory sequence. The only thing that keeps them distinct is the coloring work by Vinicius Andrade, whose works continues to shine.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY THIS BOOK
If there is one book you should buy this week, Red Sonja #17 is the one to grab. I would be very surprised if this book doesn’t end up on a best of list for 2015. Red Sonja #17 is very first time reader friendly, and there is very little you need to know about Red Sonja in order to enjoy this book. Gail Simone’s storytelling is the best, and she should be very proud of this issue. Likewise Wlater Geovani’s are blows everything out of the water. I can’t wait to see how this two-issue arc wraps, as I know I’m not going to be disappointed.
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