I am very impressed with the way Red Sonja has been written and illustrated lately. In this book, Volume 3: The Forgiving of Monsters, Sonja is made the most human I think I’ve ever seen her. And I liked it.
In the first story in this volume, Red Sonja is cursed by a wizard so that she can never forgive. Taken with Sonja’s tempestuous nature, such a curse proves to be disastrous. For if Sonja can’t forgive, she’s more likely to cut someone down (literally … with a sword). So when she stops at a tavern and sees someone she believes is responsible for the deaths of those in her village, including her family. She wants to attack, but the locals hold her back, not wanting bloodshed in their peaceful village. Red Sonja fights them off until she is overwhelmed by sheer numbers, but her violence sets her as an outcast, and she continues on the trail of the killer. In the process of a fight, she nearly takes out her companions, one which asks for her forgiveness, which sets her off. When she remembers the curse and what it might mean to those around her, she looks to find a way to stop herself. The villagers are touched by what she would do to herself just to protect them and they take her in to help heal her.
In the second story in this volume, Sonja is requested by a small group of nuns who need her help protecting their library. She does so, against impressive odds, and the nuns tend to her while she heals, helping her along the way, learn to write simple letters and telling her stories.
I liked that we see Red Sonja after a fight in both these stories. So often in these Sword & Sorcery stories we get lots of battles but not much information on what it takes the hero to recover. And by seeing both sides of her – the aggressive, warrior side and the vulnerable, healing side, we see Sonja as human and not an invincible warrior.
One of the things that I found especially appealing here is that despite the fact that we’re dealing with a warrior and combating magic, the strength came from within the human. Sonja had to dig deep to find it within her to fight off the curse. It didn’t come from other magic or from physically fighting. And the scene of her recovering with the nuns attending to her just seemed so gentle and touching. I really appreciated this. The monsters that Sonja forgives (in the title) are not just those she faces off against, but herself as well.
The art isn’t outstanding, but it typically works well. There’s a nice variety of angles and looks and all the characters are recognizable. I DEFINITELY appreciate the fact that Sonja isn’t drawn to ridiculous proportions. She appears quite natural and real in these pages. I find it much easier to follow (to relate to) a character that seems real to me and not someone who is always too good to be true.
Looking for a good book? Robert E. Howard’s character Red Sonja is in good hands in the graphic novel Red Sonja, Volume 3: The Forgiving of Monsters.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Red Sonja, Volume 3: The Forgiving of Monsters
author: Gail Simone
artists: Walter Geovani and Jenny Frison
publisher: Dynamic Forces
paperback, 186 pages