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The Complete Gail Simone Red Sonja Omnibus (Red Sonja) by Gail Simone Book Review

Write on: Sat, 12 Feb 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 612

4.5/5

Red Sonja is one of the most influential characters of fantasy literature, having hit like a bolt of lightning during her first appearance in the Conan: The Barbarian comics by Roy Thomas. Based on non-Hyborian Age characters created by Robert E. Howard (Red Sonya of Rogatina and Dark Agnes respectfully), she helped usher in the age of many other fierce uncompromising action heroines.

However, the character has also become something of a walking punchline due to her infamous chainmail bikini attire. Roy Thomas mentioned the somewhat sexist double standard here as Conan the Barbarian walked around in a loincloth with no one commenting on it but, then again, not every panel was as lovingly focused on the She-Devil of Hyrkania's musculatar as her either.

Birds of Prey and Secret Six creator Gail Simone was one of the female fans of Red Sonja in her youth, seeing past (or not caring) about the fanservice element to embrace the fabulous character within. When Dynamite Entertainment acquired the rights to the character, they had an uphill battle for sharing the character to modern audiences, though they never lacked for a fanbase entirely. So, when they offered her the chance to write it, Gail Simone jumped at the task but was left with the question: How does one update Red Sonja to the 21st century?

THE COMPLETE GAIL SIMONE RED SONJA OMNIBUS answers that question in its collected eighteen issues plus one bonus story.  Its a short but still-respectable run that rebooted the character's origins, changed some fundamental elements about her presentation, and also put her through some incredibly entertaining adventures.
Whether these changes were for the best or will stick is always a question of comic books but I had an immensely fun time with them and believe fans of fantasy will greatly enjoy. I also believe Red Sonja is a character worthy of reading and has plenty to appeal to audiences both man or woman alike. But do I think Gail Simone's Red Sonja is the best take on the character? No, but it's up there.