Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #3
Nancy A. Collins, Luke Lieberman (w)
Fritz Casas (a)
Jay Anacleto, Walter Geovani, Lucio Parrillo (c)
March 18, 2015
After Red Sonja’s School for Wayward Warrior Girls burned down in issue #2, Red Sonja and her crew regroup and replan. Meanwhile, Red Sonja gets back in touch with her supernatural roots.
The main cover by Anacleto is a good example of how to do a spread leg shot (which Anacleto seems fond of), but in a way that shows the character as a subject engaged in action, not an object who appears to be a badass warrior, but is really straddling a giant serpent in an overt metaphor for the viewer’s penis envy. (A pose we see Red Sonja drawn in more often than I care to count.) Scathath looks like the pinnacle of the warrior goddess; however, I am somewhat confused by what exactly the action is between Red Sonja and her.
Well, I always end up fangirling over Geovani’s art on Red Sonja. His artwork deftly merges the spectacle of the sword and sorcery genre with action that conveys our redheaded heroine as a formidable foe and an undeniable barbarian.
Parrillo’s variant is a much needed improvement over his variant for issue #2, but despite the extreme contrapposto, the overall cover utterly lacks the kind of dynamism one should expect of a sword and sorcery spectacle. The beheaded monster has more characterization than Red Sonja, who is the lead after all. She looks impassive, and her eye makeup is befitting of a Frederick’s of Hollywood (Victoria Secret’s cheaper cousin) catalogue. The monster is pretty cool, so you know, there’s that.
(Contains some spoilers)
The issue opens with a twist on her origin story created by Roy Thomas. Red Sonja comes from a family of warriors who worship the goddess Scathach. Scathach, a warrior woman and instructor of combat in Irish mythology, often appears in Red Sonja’s origin stories (with the exception of Simone’s). Collins and Lieberman’s take appears to be a little different. There’s still a supernatural element, but without the childhood trauma of ransacking barbarian tribes and rape (thank Scathath).
Red Sonja sends her students off to warn the local townships of Sutekh’s rampage. She then departs with her most promising students, Lyla and Xoana, for Xoana’s home. The middle of the issue focuses on this visit. While I found the character background on Xoana interesting, it made the middle of the issue lag. It seemed to serve no other purpose than to establish backstory for a side character. Unless this information is necessary to the rest of this miniseries, the middle could have been cut down significantly and given more time to the final part of the book where Red Sonja encounters the goddess Scathath.
Speaking of Scathath, turns out she is somewhat (a lot) displeased by Red Sonja’s decision to retire from the mercenary life. Their interaction which raises some interesting questions about sacrifice, and afterwards Red Sonja emerges from her visit with Scathath renewed and literally on fire. Her signs of aging are gone—I guess they couldn’t keep her in that much clothing for much longer. At this point, it is unclear as to just what Red Sonja sacrificed in order to win back the goddess’s good favour, but it looks like we will learn more in the fourth issue.
Casas’ art continues to not shy away from drawing an older Red Sonja who is battle worn and weary, though that changes after her encounter with Scathath. The renewed Red Sonja shows no signs of age and her body is fit and muscular, but of course, with exaggerated proportions. The gore is over the top in a fun way and notably, Casas also draws Red Sonja’s students with a variety of ethnicities and physical appearances.
On the whole, the middle part of this comic made it lag. I had trouble mustering interest in writing this review despite the more compelling ending. Thus far, the premise of Vulture’s Circle holds more interest for me than the actual execution.