It’s been said many times before – and by those far more eloquent than I – that what matters most in life is not how many times you’re knocked down but that you get back up. It’s that durability of spirit that makes the difference between mice and men (women, too), and it’s something we as a people need to see in even our private moments of fear and frustration. Not only do we aspire to see it in ourselves, but also it’s something we expect in those whom we follow, whom we admire, and whom we emulate. Certainly, being a hero isn’t easy work, but having the ability to rebound not when you need it but when others need it most puts you on a path to greatness too rarely seen these days in life and in entertainment.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
When we last saw Red Sonja, she was perfectly still, silenced from the throes of the plague that had ravaged her body; but the arrival of her twin benefactors managed to elevate her chi from the darkest thoughts. It would seem that the king’s son has perhaps found a cure, and, if it isn’t too late, he may be able to save our beloved heroine. The road to Patra will be treacherous – as even Sonja expects – but she’ll have her vengeance over Annisia if it’s the last thing she does.
This fourth chapter in this title’s relaunch manages to deliver a few surprises – not happy taking Sonja’s life, Annisia is now laying claim to the fallen warrior’s legacy; Annisia’s followers have begun to question their leader’s mental state; and an all-new flashback reveals the two women’s first encounter in the pits and in combat. One might suspect at this point that scribe Gail Simone and her creative crew would’ve played all of their cards and simply be waiting for deliver a big finish; but thankfully they’ve demonstrated one more time that there are layers worth divulging in a right time and place when exploring this world and its various characters.
Still, it might be easy to dismiss some of this chapter’s smaller moments as a needed bit of theatrics. A group of Annisia’s forces encounter the twins (Ayla and Nias) and Sonja on their return trip, giving the plague-stricken lady a chance to show that – even when afflicted – she still has the right stuff to snuff out evil in its tracks. However, Simone has earned my faith – she’s exhibited tremendous poise in crafting this vision; she’s proven to be a gifted steward of this title and its eponymous She-devil – so I’m more than willing to cut her some slack to turn in some fisticuffs and well-staged bloodletting, letting artist Walter Geovani and the rest of the gang join in the occasion.
What matters here thematically is that Sonja is down but she’s far from out. She’s already proven herself a force to be reckoned with, and now she’s itching to get back at what she does best. I, for one, welcome the return to form … even if it spells greater doom (if that’s possible).
RED SONJA #4 (Ongoing) is published by Dynamite Entertainment. The issue is written by Gail Simone; the art is drawn by Walter Geovani; the book is colored by Adriano Lucas; it is lettered by Simon Bowland; and the series is presently edited by Joseph Rybandt. Individual issues bear the cover price of $3.99 … and that’s a bargain considering the depth, action, and characterization contained within.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Simone and her crew continue to set-the-stage for an all-new version of RED SONJA. It’s epic. It’s heroic. It’s the reason readers explore heroes. Now that we’re in the home stretch for a legendary rematch, we’re sure to have the important questions answered and maybe even a few more raised so that this team can turn their attention at where these journeys may go next.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that I’ve repeatedly contacted the fine folks at Dynamite Comics via email and their web site in hopes to arrange for reader copies of RED SONJA (Ongoing); however, the company apparently does not recognize nor cooperate with requests from new media outlets.