This is Gail Simone’s last issue of Red Sonja, which is a shame. Then again, it’s issue eighteen of what was going to be a six issue run, so I can’t complain but so much. Sonja is defending the Spire, a tower that is something you don’t see in fantasy settings a lot- a library. Not much of a reader herself, in fact she’s borderline illiterate, Sonja has been won over by the dedication of the nuns who staff the library.
She has an ugly fight ahead of her. The Dowager Empress is displeased that the library is teaching women at all, and even more so that Sonja defeated the Empress’ first batch of guards. Now, she has sent her elite group of killers to deal with Sonja and the library. Sonja needs a really slick plan to defeat three of the best warriors in the Empress’ ranks. It’s a nasty fight with a few nice little surprises. Sonja doesn’t come out of it unscathed, but she does make a new enemy and ends up with a new look as Gail’s run comes to an end.
Plot: Sonja fights and plans well, and her liking for the library in spite of herself are good elements to the story. Gail also shows the dangers of over-specialization. And hey, I admit, I’m a huge fan of libraries. So I’ll give this a high 4.5 out of 5 for plot.
Art: The art, both cover and interior, is gorgeous. Red looks dangerous, and she is shown like a fighter, not posing like a pin up girl. I’ll give the art, too, a 4.5 out of 5.
Positives: I like that Sonja is a smart fighter. She plans, doesn’t just charge in, sword swinging. She’s also far from perfect. This wasn’t an easy fight for her, and doesn’t look like it is. I also like that Gail shows Sonja as far from perfect. Sonja learns from the nuns here. I also thought it was a nice touch that the younger nuns were questioning their vows as Sonja fought for them, all alone.
Negatives: I don’t know what this says about me, but my biggest dislike here is Sonja’s new look. Maybe I’m shallow, I don’t know. But I really didn’t care for it. Aside from that, it was good issue that I have no complaints about.
I’ll miss Gail’s writing on this book. I’ll stick around long enough to give the new team a chance, but they have a tough act to follow.
Red Sonja #18
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Walter Giovani
Colorist: Vinicus Andrade
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Jenny Frison