Legends of Red Sonja #4 features a frame story by Gail Simone and two interlinked tales by Mercedes Lackey and Marjorie M. Liu with art by Jack Jadson, Nei Ruffino, and Phil Noto respectively. The hunt draws to its close, and we learn two more tales of people Red Sonja has affected through her actions, and see a little more about the red-haired barbarian heroine.
Gail Simone’s frame story continues the tale of the increasingly disenchanted hunters seeking Red Sonja to avenge the death of a prince. Some are still avid, but others are dead, and the remainder question the wisdom of continuing their pursuit. It still is difficult keeping track of the various characters, but I do not think they are intended to be terribly distinct. Although Red Sonja is never the point of view character, the focus is still on how she evades and disturbs the people who would kill her.
Mercedes Lackey’s tale, “Jenny’s Story, Parallex” is the tale of a young girl Sonja once saved from bandits. One view is the romanticized tale the girl tells, one of a sparkling clean heroine who comes charging to the rescue of the oppressed and teaches self-defense; the “real” story is a messier tale of a woman who gets drunk after battle and is more prone to barking orders than teaching fighting. Both tales agree on one thing, though: The villagers feel safer for having Red Sonja around.
Nei Ruffino’s art and the coloring picks up on the idealized vs. real theme: The idealized art is clean and brightly colored, with lovely curly gold framing. The real story is drawn more roughly and has darker, smudgier coloring.
Marjorie M. Liu’s tells of Red Sonja’s encounter with a forest god. It is a beautiful and slightly ominous (especially at the end) tale impossible to summarize without spoiling entirely, so I’ll just say that it is one of the stronger tales in the Legends and that Phil Noto’s painterly style is well-suited to the tale.
Favorite page award this time goes to Jadson’s final full-page image of Red Sonja, a black horse, and a twisted tree trunk with the forest behind her.
The sad thing? There is only one more issue in the Legends of Red Sonja series. Let’s do this again sometime soon, ok?