I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I mainly picked it up out of loyalty to Gail Simone. Gail Simone has also been synonymous with Batgirl, but after the New 52, the rumor is that she butted heads with DC, not enjoying the changes they were forcing onto Batgirl, so she quit. Dynamite grabbed her up immediately because the only comic book company out there that still doesn’t get it about women being another demographic that buys comic books is DC. (Get it together, DC.) Simone was given basically free reign to pick what property she wanted to work on and she snatched up Red Sonja. And the rest is beautiful history.
The first book is, of course, an origins story. But unlike the usual linear story of this is how character got from point A to point Hero, Red Sonja intersperses flashbacks to her becoming part of who she is with her current situation. (Which, as in all things serendipitous, totally ties back into Red Sonja’s past.) Red Sonja is summoned by the king she serves and his kingdom is on the verge of invasion. The invading army is lead by a woman from Sonja’s past. Both her and Sonja were trapped in a slave-gladiators’ circuit, beating out all the other competitors until the next day when they must fight each other. The king arrives and frees them both, Sonja commits her sword to the king while her fellow inmate goes crazy.
As easy as it would be to exploit a female character that romps around in a metal bikini, Red Sonja doesn’t do exploitation. (She even gets other outfits too!) Not only that, the majority of main characters in the story are women and well written women to boot. The young twins that take on the role of Sonja’s “bodyguards” are as annoying in their earnestness as they are adorable. Sonja’s nemesis is also more than a two dimensional villain, being plagued by the specters of the people she killed in the arena.
All in all, I was happily impressed with Red Sonja and can’t wait to see where she goes next. I do, however, hope that Simone puts something in to explain away that uncomfortable metal bikini. Black Canary and Huntress made a few off the cuff remarks about their own costumes in Simone’s Birds of Prey series. Hopefully the metal bikini can get an origin story of its own.