RED SONJA appears to be in a battle of one-upmanship with itself; each issue is more intriguing and more bloody than the last. Not satisfied with being so close to death that she's begun to dig her own grave, Sonja brings out even bigger guns (proverbial, of course -- this is a sword and sorcery series, after all) and does the fierce warrior thing BLINDFOLDED (and still near-death).
Intercutting grizzled, drunk Sonja with impetuous, young Sonja is a brilliant way to show that the years have not eroded an ounce of her willfulness or strength. Present-Sonja is as driven and violent as her younger self, albeit more precise and skilled, and with a stronger sense of altruism. Simone and Geovani choreograph fight sequences with the elegance of a ballet and the force of a battle axe, and watching Sonja in action at either age is a treat.
This issue is a well-placed serve for Sonja's confrontation with Annisia next month. Momentum has been built, backstory has caught up, and Annisia has successfully driven a final stake into their rivalry. The conclusion to this arc promises to be bloody, and if there's any question about Sonja's heroism, it'll be addressed as she liberates the people of Patra and takes down her sister for good.
I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that the same Toda from Sonja's youth is now her opponent. It makes sense that Sonja is facing off against Annisia, but resurrecting past tormentors for lead-up villains seems a bit packaged. It's also unclear why a rabid strangler like the Toda we see here was so reserved in flashbacks; there's little connection between the two scenes besides the "Tell Sonja you love her" moment.
Red Sonja is amazing and brutal all at once; she's reluctantly heroic and unapologetically violent, and she's a fresh reminder of exactly why sword and sorcery is such an exciting genre. Simone and Geovani are doing a spectacular job of reviving the series and making the character dynamic and interesting. Poised for an arc-ending confrontation in the next issue, RED SONJA is a fascinating read that gets better and better each month.