Great writers of fictional literature and comics alike have come to Dynamite to contribute to Legends of Red Sonja. Gail Simone is responsible for the writing in this issue alongside Meljean Brook and Tamora Pierce; I am only familiar with the first of those three names but am interested to see what the latter two can do with the character. Is it good?
Legends of Red Sonja #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
The series, in concept, is very intriguing—it’s all about Sonja, yet it’s told from another’s point of view. The first story talks of a haughty warrior who embarked on a quest with our heroine, hoping to find a demon and the jewel within said demon. Although Sonja is in the end responsible for the retrieval of the jewel, the warrior takes the credit and the prize.
Throughout the story, the warrior, Godrak the Beheader, repeatedly asks Sonja: “Are you ready to abandon the quest?” To which she always replies, “no.” I guess this is a story about standing your ground more than anything. Gail Simone is trying to tell us that Sonja is an independent and strong woman and therefore will not back down, even if a man encourages her to. It comes off a tad forced, but it’s a good enough message.
The writing in this little tale is actually a lot better than I have come to expect from Ms. Simone. I am still irked by the fact that she feels the need to write down everything going on in the comic. I still feel like she doesn’t trust her reader. Instead of leaving things up for interpretation we have to have everything spelled out for us. It also detracts from the art by cramming pages of dialogue into panels. If she just eliminated all inner dialogue we would get much more from the subtle facial expressions or body language of the characters and overall a more enriching experience.
The other two stories were related and worked to tell the same overall narrative but were both by different creative teams. A woman is threatened at a market and forced to strip down in front of these guys in some religious cult before Sonja tears them apart, thus starting a war of sorts with their leader and comrades. Sonja, the woman and the woman’s daughter travel through the wilderness together, and yes—like every other issue of Red Sonja ever, there is a campfire powwow.
While I appreciated, again, the sense of bringing women out as powerful and independent people, I must comment on the fact that every male in the story was portrayed as lustful, drunk and a rapist. I know that such people exist in the world but it certainly isn’t everyone, as Meljean Brook seems to suggest.
Other than that one little bother the writing is pretty good. The dialogue is well flowing and the concept of the story (although underwhelming) is made into an entertaining comic.
Jack Jadson does fantastic things with Gail Simone’s story in the first third of the comic. His lines aren’t exceptional but his colors and shadings really leave a lasting impression. It is a very dreary color palette, lots of beiges and browns juxtaposed with the bright reds of Sonja’s hair and all the blood around her.
The second artist, Mel Rubi, has a very different but fun style. It comes off as a little cartoonier than the first style, more 3D looking too. This might be a result of heavier inks, but whatever it is, it works. The colors are solid and the lettering is good from what I know about lettering.
Cassandra James is in charge of the final pages of art, and she does just as well as the previous two. An interesting line style makes the action flow better but makes some faces look a little crumpled. The inks are quite heavy but do not serve to make the panels look more realistic.
- Unique and interesting art all around
- Gail Simone’s writing is leaps and bounds better than her other work on Sonja
- A little weirdness with the writing and story
Is It Good?
It is, for the most part. This is definitely Simone’s best writing on this character, which makes me hopeful for the future of her regular series. All of the guest creators are good enough, but not incredibly memorable.