Red Sonja: The Complete Gail Simone Omnibus Delivers the Red-Headed She-Devil in All Her Glory!

Writer: Gail Simone

Artist:  Walter Geovani

Colors:  Adriana Lucas (1-15); Carlos Lopez (11); Elmer Santos (0); Alex Guimaraes (11, 15); Marco Lesko (15); Vinicius Andrade (16-18)

Letterer:  Simon Bowland

Covers:  Jenny Frison and a host of others

Publisher:  Dynamite

Available:  Now, via your favorite comic store, Comixology or Amazon

Price:  $49.99 (there’s also a super-extra-deluxe, Gail Simone signed edition that sells for more)

A bit of a mea culpa on this one right off the bat:  I’ve been waiting eagerly to write this review for months, pretty much since Dynamite announced they were going to do the project.   And I held off on even looking at the digital press copy, wanting for the full experience when I finally sliced open that glorious (if battered) Amazon box and held my own 40-odd-pound (ok, I jest…a little) copy in my greedy mitts.  So, there’s that.

It was worth the wait.

I’m not going to bother extolling the virtues of Gail Simone’s work on Red Sonja: either you recognize it as the best interpretation of the character in the She-Devil’s history, an industry-leading writer at her peak, with greater depth and integrity than any previous writer (except for maybe Jim Zub, but that was a one-shot) had even contemplated for her; you’re just not a sword and sorcery reader (we should talk about whatever abuse you experience as a child, that would leave you scarred so); or you’re illiterate.  No problem in any event—I don’t judge.

The book, as you’d have to presume given it covers 19 issues (1-18, plus the issue 0 prologue), is enormous.  If you’ve experienced Dark Horse’s Buffy or Angel & Faith library editions, then you know what you’re getting: a slightly expanded and heavier stock page size, which makes for much easier reading, even for us old geezers whose eyes aren’t quite what they were.  The stitched binding is a nice touch as well; the pages turn and stay easily, with no fighting to keep the book open to your current page (an important consideration, when you’re talking a 528 page tome).

In terms of extras, the collection is fairly minimal—but again, even as bare bones as it is, it’s 500+ pages and over 4 pounds (not kidding this time)—you get a nice introductory letter from Simone (which was originally published in the first trade copy of Queen of Plagues), then a section at the end with every variant cover from the entire run (each issue is presented with the original, standard-release Jenny Frison cover.

And those Jenny Frison covers?  Holy wah.  As much as I love Frank Thorne’s work from the ‘70’s, Arthur Adams and Amanda Conner and all the rest, none of them capture the red-maned she-devil the way Frison does; these are truly some of my favorite images in the entire comic book medium.  Frison has the unique-in-my-experience ability to capture all of the rage, the always-lurking menace and the fundamental loneliness of the character in one painting, at the same time.  Without making her a bodacious sex ba-bomb, but also without sacrificing her innate sensuality.  So yeah, they’re kinda good, and junk.

But if you want to compare them against the murderer’s row of Simone’s hand-picked female artists, the entire gallery variant covers for the 19-issue run is included for your perusal. 

Which itself is more than a little cool: how do you take a feminist’s nightmare of a character, and make her less divisive?  Turns out it’s simple:  put one of the strongest, most badass female voices in comics at the helm, and have her appoint some of the most talented female artists in existence—and ONLY them—do all the covers.

Works for me.

So an attractive and nicely-formatted presentation of one of my favorite characters in fantasy literature, by some of the best creators who have ever addressed her crimson locks?  Sign me right up.

Red Sonja: The Complete Gail Simone Omnibus is available now, in both standard ($49.99 cover price) and signed limited edition ($75, at least on Amazon), at Amazon, on comiXology or via your favorite comic store.  Quick caveat on the signed edition, though—I noticed three reviews (out of three) stating that the book did not actually have Simone’s signature, as advertised.  Not sure the deal there, so buyer beware—you may want to check into things, if that’s the copy you’re wanting.

Score:  13/13

Review by Andy Patch,

Buy it here

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