Red Sonja #18, cover by Jenny Frison, Dynamite 2015Red Sonja #18

Gail Simone (script), Walter Geovani (art), Vinicius Andrade (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Jenny Frison (main cover), Adriana Melo (variant cover), Stephanie Buscema (subscription cover)
Dynamite
September 21, 2015

(Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers and is based on an advanced review copy from Dynamite.)

The first time I opened the advanced review copy of this issue, I promptly closed it and then read something else. Sure, I had some more timely reviews to get to, but there was something else: I didn’t want to read Simone’s last issue of Red Sonja because well, feels.

Under the gun to write reviews, edit, promote, and do all the work that comes with being dearly devoted to doing something you love, it gets pretty easy to gloss over the love in the “doing something you love” part. My to-do list is a tyrant that I fervently follow in order to balance full-time work, WWAC, and all the other life stuff out there. I rarely run out of writing ideas, just time. But in all that, I can forget how what I am writing about makes me feel. Feelings are often harder for me to process; they take patience, time, and a very different kind of focus.

Red Sonja gets this. Her general M.O. is similar: get shit done. She scoffs at feels and threatens you if dare tell someone she cried. Fortunately, in this final issue from Simone there is time for feels.

Red Sonja #18, words by Gail Simone, art by Walter Geovani, Dynamite 2015

Red Sonja has feels, too, and she will kick your ass if you tell anyone.

Of course, there’s fighting, swordplay, and blood, but that part is limited. Well, limited for a Red Sonja comic. Simone gives space for Red Sonja to feel: to heal, to enjoy the company of the scholarly women she is with–a surprising company for the flame-haired barbarian. Sonja gets the chance to work on her letters and listen to stories (the adventure stories are obviously her favorite). In doing this, Simone also gives space for fans to enjoy her goodbye to Red Sonja. One of the nuns, Halayah, feels like a stand in for Simone. Halyah reads stories to Red Sonja, helps her with her letters, and begins writing down the stories of Red Sonja. It is a lovely allegory for what Simone has done with and for the character.

(There’s also an exciting set up for the next writer with a rather startling new change for Red Sonja. THAT IS ALL I AM SAYING, BUT IT IS AWESOME!)

Simone brought me back into comics. First on the New 52 Batgirl which led to Birds of Prey and so on. Many of the things that made comics feel unapproachable to me were made okay by Simone. I was still feeling my way back into comics when Simone took over Red Sonja. As a Red Sonja fangurl and a feminist, I could not be more pleased with what Simone has done with the character. She has brought feminist elements to the comic while maintaining a delightful irreverence befitting a comic with pulp origins.

And I can’t say all this without including Walter Geovani. His renderings of Red Sonja as a ferocious and athletic warrior have also contributed immensely to this comic. He’s up there with Frank Thorne and Mel Rubi when it comes to depicting the She-Devil with a Sword. Geovani’s Red Sonja is powerful and cocky like Thorne and Rubi’s, but Geovani brings a humanness to her that is unique to his artwork.

When you are a critic, it can be too easy to forget what it feels like to be an unabashed fan–to enthusiastically love, identify, and connect with something in the uncoolest way, there is no irony, just:

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After all, isn’t that what being a geek is all about? And I am first and foremost a geek, which is why I got that prickly feeling in my eyes while writing this review. To quote Sonja: “tell no one.”