RED SONJA: THE ART OF BLOOD AND FIRE
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Walter Geovani (#7-12) & Noah Salonga (#0)
Colorist: Adriano Lucas (#7-12) & Elmer Santos (#0)
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Rating: 10/10 Bath Bombs
Sometimes you gotta get away from it all. The capes, the secret identities, the villainous monologues. Harken back to a simpler time where all you had to do was make sure your sword cut into your opponent first and that ale would be provided at the nearest tavern. I’m talking about a quest! This week, thanks to the votes from the Instagram community, we are saddling up our ponies and riding out with Red Sonja in this week's review for Red Sonja: The Art Of Blood And Fire. For some fun, I’ve been feeling like taking this back to my roots and breaking down the issues real quick. Where ale will wane, spoilers will be aplenty.
Ye Old Help Wanted
The premise of this book is pretty straight forward for both reader and Sonja alike. A king summons Sonja to marvel (but not Marvel) at the site of his gigantic mausoleum that can only hope to contain his ego when he passes on to the next life. Before he goes, he wants to have one last going out party. This party can only feature the best artisans though and so to get that he hires the best (Sonja) to seek them out. So we have Sonja the Red traveling the lands with a month to search for the six greatest artisans on the planet. What price could be so high that Sonja would take on such a task? The freedom of thousands of slaves from this King or else they are to be buried alive with him.
Bayou And The Bae
Ok, so this first issue takes place in a swamp. Sonja has been tracking her first recruit for 4 days and it hasn’t been an enjoyable experience for her. She’s highly in need of a bath, hungry, and also horny. After a back and forth game with the swamp locals and Sonja of who actually has the upper hand over the other, Sonja is taken away to get prepared for supper. It’s here we meet her first target, a chef ahead of his time. The guy is preparing stuff ahead of the times in this issue like quail roasted poutine and other stuff I would expect to see on Master Chef.
Here we have Sonja now with the man she sought to offer a great opportunity to about to cook her up for the cannibalistic folk banging their forks at the dinner table. Before this whole thing turns into a Katy Perry Bon Appétit music video we discover that the gold old chef hasn’t been cooking any people but swapping them out for some strange lizards. As with all mysterious things swiped from what might be a nest, there is always a momma in tow to get their babies back. In this case, it’s Lizard Folk. Out of the frying pan and into the fire eh Sonja?
With one master artisan employed now and traveling with Sonja, we find ourselves setting out for number two in the second issue. With a master chef as a travel companion, our She-Devil is no longer hungry, but just horny and in need of a bath. The next destination has Sonja looking to take out a man who abuses animals and has them fight, putting on a show for folks. After an unsuccessful attempt at first that lands our duo in jail, they receive some help from Rat. Not a rat but Rat, a young girl who works for the animal abuser who in turn takes the same abuse and watches these good animals die.
What’s a protagonist to do when faced with an evil animal handler in a ring full of caged besties but to let them loose and get their revenge. Her employer, if witnessing the brutal events that occurred at this moment, might have been displeased at the loss of one beastmaster they requested. Luckily he will have it as the young Rat is the true master the animals obey with her love for them.
50 Shades OF Red...Sonja
Another artisan down and we find Sonja realizing her needs outweigh her wants when seeking out the princess of courtesans, Aneva. What she wants is all those hot bods (ladies and gents) but what she needs is a bath and some gold. After getting the bot from the fine establishment, Sonja takes to classic climbing the towers and sneaking past the guards. Ok, well not really sneaking, she just beats them up. It’s kind of her go-to move.
After some fists and swords are put to the side and open communication is used we now have our princess among the group. Along the way, we learn that she lived close by to where Sonja hails and that despite both feeling the other being worlds apart from they are, they both have wondered often about life as the other.
Can’t Touch This
Member number four is our master swordsman, Osric the Untouchable. As Sonja learns from potential bedmate for the night, very untouched and he has high standards. Whether it’s fooling around in the hay or joining Sonja’s collection of artisans, she has to take it up with Osric’s wife in combat. It’s his sword. He’s married to his sword.
It was the first time and an astonishing sight to see Sonja unable to best someone in combat. After all, she’s felled mightier men and beasts alike. After being a little embarrassed from losing (and becoming even more filthy from falling around in the mud), Sonja takes a beat with Aneva to reflect on what’s got her in a funk. Easy answer. She does her best work when she actually has her life on the line. The same can’t be said for Osric as she kicks the crap out of him until he admits he lost and joins the group. Good job you two. Sonja coming out on top and Osric acknowledging when he is bested.
The Biggest Character Reveal Of All
This header doesn’t lie. Gail Simone had me as shocked as Sonja this issue, but for a different reason. The She-Devil makes her way with the party to pick up their next artisan, the stargazer. Unfortunately it’s not in the best circumstances as he is being tortured by his religious compatriots for believing in science and… wait for it, the Earth is actually round. Gasp I say, but not to the obvious revelation, but to the possibility that Sonja might be a Flat Earther?
Round, flat, all that matters is that Sonja shares a kinship with this tortured man (maybe also due to the fact that they both need a bath) and decides to break him out. No god can go up against the She-Devil.
A Fairy Tale Rescue
Dream of being whisked away all you want but Wham! That door is getting kicked down by a tired, hungry and horny warrior badass who will not take comments on their need for a good bath. There will be no bloodshed or barter for this rescue though as the artisan is gladly offered up. The final member is a dancer and all you need to know is that despite his short appearance, he is the absolute best.
Bath Time, Party Time, Murder Time!
With the crew of master artisans assembled it’s time to throw this dying King his mega swanky party But first, a bath for Sonja the Red. I can tell you from the panel itself, I felt like my stresses from a long journey were being washed away from me. Her relaxation is going to have to be cut short as Sonja learns that the King wasn’t intending to keep his promises and now the She-Devil finds herself imprisoned. The party must go on, even if her friends are unaware of what is happening.
The entertainment is like none other, the food is divine, and Sonja, well she doesn't even have to sweat because her friends knew something was up. After busting their fearless leader out they decide it’s time to help that king get into that mausoleum a little quicker than intended. Sonja saved thousands of lives, made some great friends and walked away with a sack full of gold that she spends to no surprise, very quickly (If you haven’t caught on yet, she looking for sex).
Artisans OF The Red Sonja Series
I mean there is no other way to say how amazing this creative team continued to be in this series from volume one. Gail Simone continues Red Sonja’s unrestrained personality even more so in this book. Despite her looks, she is totally a base needs person and isn't ashamed of that. Meat tastes like meat and when she wants some trim, she wants some trim. Everything about her from making threats to being put into situations where there is a gender norm being brought to attention, Gail’s responses for Sonja perfect. I find myself either smirking at a dude getting his as handed to him when they underestimate the She-Devil or just straight up laughing when you can tell Sonja is too tired or annoyed to deal with something. And special credit goes to Simon Bowland for lettering the important things that were Sonja’s frame of mind.