Review: RED SONJA #2

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Walter Geovani and Adriano Lucas
Release date: August 14, 2013

RSv2-02-Cov-FrisonBlood, battle, and metal bikinis – popular character Red Sonja has debuted in another book, this time steered by the capable hands of Gail Simone, Walter Geovani, and Adriano Lucas. We join Sonja The Devil in the filthiest of dungeons on the eve of what might have become her last day alive, and follow her on a path that may very well lead to the same result.

The tension drawn taught by the end of #1 is capitalized on in this issue, throwing us into the heat of battle with violent visuals narrated by Sonja’s far-less-chaotic inner monologue — the calm in the storm. This narration style is abandoned during a glimpse into Sonja’s past when the reader may be most curious about her thoughts, and again when the fight goes sour for Sonja, and returns as only hiccups of thought for the climax of the story. Narration is absent entirely for the remainder of the issue, again when readers may crave it most. We are left in the cold.

Simone knows exactly how to pace a story to ensnare her readers into walking right into emotional moments unawares, with breaks between rises of tension done so smoothly it is not until after you’ve been struck that you realize she was setting you up in the first place. She is not afraid of putting strong women in vulnerable situations, running cracks through the foundation that holds them upright and letting readers fret over whether they’ll continue to stand.

Geovani is a perfect fit to Simone’s rise and fall of tension. He delivers excellence on every front — from the ugly grimaces of battle to the softly-penciled expressions of the past, he could tell the story with facial expressions alone. He uses panels not as boundaries but as elements of storytelling, jumbling them in moments of action and straightening them out when the visual presentation needs no outline gimmick to shake the reader. He shows strength and anger as easily as he presents softness and regret, and his apparently limitless abilities allowed for a truly multifaceted issue.

The prowess of both Geovani and Simone was well-garbed by Lucas’s colors, which poured rich and bright against Geovani’s harsher inks and eased to softer hues for pencils. From the eerie greens that shrouded an army of ghosts to the vibrant orange background to one of Sonja’s screams, Lucas displayed expert choices that built the mood for some of the best panels in the book. And his loose, watercolor-like shadowing was particularly impressive, as it complimented Geovani’s inks without overpowering them. His work was a textbook example of how a colorist’s decisions can become one of the defining elements of bringing the writer and artist’s intentions together for the strongest impact on readers.

After a first issue that presented only a handful of wow, this issue was a dozen levels above and really hit its mark. It threw readers into the clattering din of war and dragged them back out again to sprawl on their knees, and with a cold ending that makes the third issue’s release seem a winter away.

Verdict: 10/10


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