Story: Mark Russell
Art: Bob Q
Colors: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
What They Say:
“To Cut And To Bleed” The epic continues. Sonja The Red can save her kingdom…by abdicating her throne. If she agrees to lead a man’s army, and kill indiscriminately, then her people will be fed. By MARK RUSSELL (DC’s Year Of The Villain) and BOB Q (Captain America).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Having been sidelined into reading a lot of other books as of late, I’ve found myself with a lot of Mark Russell’s works and every time I read them I lamented for the lack of Red Sonja in my pile. Getting back into the series is very easy after a couple of months away from it and Russell has a lot of things moving forward here that will keep readers interested for some time to come. The book also has Bob Q on the artwork once again and that’s a big plus as I really dig his look for the property with the characters and locations which all feel of the period and time but also has the right kind of worn down elements to it that it needs thanks to Dearbhla Kelly’s color design for the project.
The bulk of the book spends its time with Sonja in Khitai but we do see a little bit going on back in Hyrkania. It’s not good stuff, though, as the people are getting desperate and we see one guy who had stolen a hose with the intention of eating him. The problem is that while horse thieves are hung by people whose lives are based around the horses, there isn’t enough wood to do so. So that has him being buried in the ground for horses to trample on him. It serves well to show just how bad things have gotten for Sonja’s people after winning the war and that it’s getting incredibly tight. But the horses cannot be sacrificed because then who would they be if they don’t have any horses? It’s a vicious cycle that eats itself fully here and says a lot with little.
Sonja’s time in Khitai shows some flashback material to when she was here before and the kind of learning she underwent as both warrior and leader, helping to refine her more wild ways into calculated ways that have served her well now. But the present-day material is rough as we see how Jo’Qhan is the worst type of ruler. He shows her how the three pillars of Khitai have made it strong over the years but he replaces it with just himself as the true strength, believing that the other pillars merely weakened the rule of its king. There’s a lot of unease on her part and her confiding in the eunuch who serves council alongside her makes it clear that no matter how bad it is, their job is to actually make it work. There’s some good stuff in this in the action in the past and bringing one of those characters forward, but showing the way Sonja has grown over the years is still one of the best things about this series for me.
I continue to hope that Mark Russell’s run on this character goes for quite some time to come, even if we have to restart at the first issue and do it as miniseries. Red Sonja is the type of character and this is the type of story that deserves to have dozens and dozens of issues under its belt so that it can really unfold as strongly as it has been so far. Russell’s got a lot more story to tell and if we continue to get artists like Bob Q on it with this issue and some of the previous artists rotating in, this will definitely delight fans. This issue does a lot of setup but it works some good foundations and makes clear some of Sonja’s real challenges ahead.
Age Rating: 15+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: May 20th, 2020