As part of the celebrations for the tenth anniversary of Dynamite publishing Red Sonja comics, the publisher last month launched a new series with the character, Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle, which explores the character when she is way past the prime of her life and has taken to opening an academy where young women are given weapons training and are prepared for war. The first issue was excellent, with Nancy A. Collins and Luke Lieberman displaying a great grasp of what makes the character who she is while artists Fritz Casas and Adriano Lucas nailing the visual feel of the book.
Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #2 from this past week carries on from where the first issue left off and it deals with Sonja and her students bringing the priest Sefkh back to the Academy to question and interrogate him about the demon Sonja dealt with back in the city. Set’s son Sutekh has been let loose in the world and he has made war on the entire world, intent on bringing it all down and then offering it to his god-father. The writing here was even better than it had been in the first issue, and the art is pretty much on par, so I had a blast reading this issue as well.
There’s a lot of exposition in this issue, as compared to the previous one, but I didn’t really mind it. Nancy and Luke are dealing with a very different phase of Sonja’s life, and I actually expect some exposition to explain who some of the characters are and what their motivations are. For example, the flashback scene involving Sonja and Yusuf where we see that he was the one to heal her after the terrible injuries she took some years back and that they have been friends and companions together, and that they even founded the academy together. No hint of romance or anything, which is just as good since it avoids a cliche, and I’m all for avoiding such cliches.
However, the central story is indeed to do with Sutekh conquering one nation after another and now finally coming to Sonja’s academy to claim his due from Sefkh, who has been taken in by Sonja and her students as a prisoner of war and a source of information on Sutekh’s plans. One of the really cool things in this issue was how Nancy and Luke deal with the concept of sexual exploitation. Sefkh is like many of his ilk, who think that women must always be subservient to them and that they are little more than flesh objects to be used for their own pleasure. Sonja and her students disabuse him of such notions again and again, putting the old lecher down at every turn. I personally loved it. It adds an altogether different kind of drama and tension to the story.
The most important thing however is the portrayal of Sonja as a warrior past her prime. It has been many, many years since she took up a weapon in anger and for battle, so watching as this “old” Sonja deals with Sefkh and Sutekh’s army, well, it kind of made me a fan all over again. She has always been an accomplished warrior, but in this day and age, things are different for her and though the writers pack in some great action against monsters, it is also clear that this seemingly indestructible warrior might have met her villainous match after all.
At least until she guts Sutekh like the dog he is, that is. Because we all know that this is how it is going to turn out and it is going to be glorious!
Fritz is on the art here with Adriano on colours and Joshua Cozine on the letters. The main cover is done by Jay Anacleto and Ivan Nunes, with Cover B by Walter Geovani and Alex Guimãres and Cover C by Lucio Parillo. The reason I mention the other two covers here is because they are just as awesome as the main cover. Ever since Gail Simone took her initiative in 2013 with getting some of the top leading female artists to do covers for the relaunched Red Sonja series, the covers for Red Sonja have gotten better all of a sudden, and all the three covers for this issue are amazing.
The internal art itself is damn cool, just as I mentioned in the review for the first issue last month. Fritz and Adriano’s portrayal of Old Sonja is great, and her body language often conveys a lot. Plus there’s the fact that she is still battling some old wounds, and that kind of takes things to the next level. And the colours are generally as good too, especially the scenes with Sutekh and his army, and Sonja’s fight against one of the demi-god’s monsters.
A superb installment for a superb series!