Welcome back to Comic Book Storytelling. It is time to talk about Red Sonja again.
In the main title Red Sonja continues her mission to collect the worlds greatest artisans for this king’s party that he is throwing because he is going to die soon. This time Sonja is going after the greatest courtesan ever. And for the first time in a while she spends most of the issue in her signature chain mail bikini outfit. I like that Red Sonja changes her outfit in his series based on where she is and what she is up against.
So Sonja goes to meet Aneva the ‘princess of passion’ her initial attempts do not work out but eventually she is able to sneak into the princess chambers and explain the situation. If Sonja can get all of the artisans for the party the king will set all of his slaves free before he dies. Aneva and the other courtesans however have their own concerns in that they are prisoners of a warlord but she can’t turn down the opportunity to free people from slavery and maybe even start a guild for courtesans. On the road Aneva convinces Sonja to try on some makeup and a pretty dress. Moments later the warlords catches up to them and even in a pretty dress Sonja is deadly and it turns out Aneva knows how to fight back under the right circumstances and by the end the warlord and his men are dead.
The whole encounter leaves Red Sonja with some musings on the difference between a courtesan and a warrior. They are both using their body, one to give pleasure and the other to inflict violence. Sonja and Aneva both wonder about what might have been. It turns out the small villages they are from were not far from each other. It is possible that their roles in life could have been reversed.
Now I would like to talk a bit about the Legends of Red Sonja mini series that finished not too long ago. This series got some attention for having all women writers on it. In Legends we follow a group of villains who have teamed up to get revenge on Red Sonja and share their stories about how she wronged or defeated them and tales from people who have been helped or allied with Sonja.
We see the time Red Sonja fought a werewolf pretending to be a god. We meet the blacksmith who forged Red Sonja’s chain mail bikini. We hear from a witch who once tried to perform a magic ritual to gain a blessing from a goddess but then little girl Sonja wandered along and shot the magic owl with an arrow and accidentally took the blessing for herself. We see the time Red Sonja helped a woman so beautiful that when she danced she turned men into bones… I was a little confused by that one, it might be referencing some bit of Hyborian Age lore I am not familiar with.
What we see more than anything in this anthology mini series is that Red Sonja means different things to different people. To some people she is an uncouth, unwashed barbarian of mighty strength. To others she is a radiant beauty that can never be possessed. To her enemies she seems to walk a line between unimaginable monster and an annoyance who got lucky. It all speaks to the fine line of what Red Sonja has represented in the past to different people and what she could yet stand for in the future.