The Pull List: Red Sonja

Gail Simone originally signed on for six issues of Dynamite’s Red Sonja but, “Then I (Gail Simone) started writing her, and she just got very controlling about it, frankly. I went from doing six issues to agreeing to twelve. I went from doing one Sonja book to two, adding the wonderful LEGENDS OF RED SONJA with some of my favorite female writers. Then I went from two Sonja books to three, in agreeing to do CONAN VS. RED SONJA. I kinda got greedy. So Dynamite have generously kept me on for an extended tour of more issues of mayhem, blood, sex, and red hair, because Sonja is Sonja, and Sonja is hard to turn down. Because Sonja is CUNNING.”

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Red Sonja is a character openly based upon the work of Robert E Howard, and Gail Simone’s interpretation lives up to this.  Simone ditches elements  of Roy Thomas’ and Doug Moench’s original story, allowing her to retain the tragic death of her family but is no longer having raped before pledging her chastity to the Goddess Scathach  in exchange for fighting  ability,  until a man defeats her in combat. The Red Sonja  of Simone’s pen is a woman who is her own creation.  She was not endowed with fighting skill but develops them on her own.

One of the key elements Robert E Howard’s work that is often overlooked is the way he portrays ‘civilization’.  It is a corrupt institution and the honorable leaders are often shown to be less so than his protagonists.  It is in this that Gail Simone’s Red Sonja run is the true successor to Howard’s Conan and Solomon Kane.  Despite her low birth and renegade status Red Sonja attracts those to her adventurers based on her personal code of honor.

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Simone’s dialogue and plot points move her stories along swiftly , while still retaining an episodic nature that fits with the characters pulp roots.  The stories take there content seriously, but have moments of humor and levity that work incredibly well.

Walter Geovani’s art is solid, and he has a great eye for the action sequences allowing the reader to follow each movement and blow of combat.  His skill is not limited to the action though; his faces carry great expression adding an additional depth to Gail Simone’s characters.  The coloring by Adriano Lucas complements Geovan’s pencils helping the images jump off the page.

Red Sonja has three variant covers for each issue done by Jenny Frison, Becky Cloonan, and Stephanie Buscema.  On capturing the iconic character Jenny Frison states,  “…with Red Sonja wearing her chain mail bikini, which is ridiculous, it does not bother me. To me, the thing that makes her sexualized by other people, is the way she presents herself, not the costume she’s wearing. It’s not the clothes you’re wearing, it’s how you hold your body, how you feel about yourself. She’s strong. I gotta be honest, I didn’t even notice how much I loved her until I started drawing her. She’s so strong and mad and vulnerable, sometimes, sad or angry. She’s always strong, in all of those things.”

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Again as a successor of Conan, he was not known for his sense of modesty in dress code.  If you’re look for a fun well constructed sword and sorcery tale, you can’t do any better right now than Red Sonja.

Author
M.R. Gott is the author of Rising Dead, Where the Dead fear to Tread and the super dalyed due to abysmal sales sequel Where the Damned Fear Redemption. You can visit M.R.’s website Cutis Anserina at http://wherethedeadfeartotread.blogspot.com. M.R. lives contentedly in central New Hampshire with his wife, their son and two pets Lucy and Porter. Aside from writing M.R. enjoys dark coffee, dark beer, red wine, and fading light.