Since reading read Red Sonja Volume I: Queen of Plagues by Gail Simone and Walter Geovanni, I’ve begun to consider myself a Sonja fan. Sure, the chainmail bikini still strikes me as sort of silly, but at least when Simone and Geovanni are handling the character, the great story and artwork overshadows the negatives. So whenever I stumbled upon anything Red Sonja and Simone or Geovanni’s names are attached, I have to give it a try.
Legends of Red Sonja is the latest graphic novels about the red-haired she-devil. It collects Legends of Red Sonja #1-5 and has an overarching story about a group of savage mercenaries who continue to hear campfire tales about Sonja’s exploits as they are hunting her down for execution. The “unique” thing about this collection is that writer Gail Simone hand-picked eleven of the most popular female writers from the world to help her pen these stories. Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Rhianna Pratchett to name a few.
After finishing Legends, all I can say is that I really, really love the way Gail Simone tells a Red Sonja story. I mean, this lady has always been a favorite comic writer of mine from her Birds of Prey days, and she very deftly handles the serious and silly of Sonja unlike no other. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the “guest” writers whose tales run the gamut from ridiculous to plain stupid. To say that they generally missed the boat with their versions of Sonja is being tactful. Honestly, if not for the overarching story crafted by Simone, this whole graphic novel would be down right amnesia worthy.
As for the illustrations, we have a whole group of people chipping in. Noah Salonga, Cassandra James, Phil Noto, Jim Calafiore, Jack Jadson, and others contributing throughout. But even with so many people adding their own unique brush strokes, the art is stellar more times than naught, capturing the essence of this kind of sword and sorcery tale. Unfortunately, there are other times (And far too many of them) when the illustrations are downright horrible – at least in my opinion.
In summation, Legends of Red Sonja is a decent graphic novel. The artwork runs the gamut from great to below average, but it still does an okay job of illustrating the story. However, while Simone’s portions of the tale are superb as always, the guest writers leave a lot to be desired. While I realize everyone has a different writing style and concept of a character, I expected that the “guest” writers would tailor their stories to be more in line with the vision and tone of Simone’s version of Sonja; something the majority of them did not do. So as you decide whether to read Legends or to pass it over, just understand this is not the Simone/Geovanni version that convinced so many of us to give the red-haired she-devil another try.
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank Netgalley for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.