Reviewing Dynamite’s Red Sonja: Sanctuary

GameStop, Inc.

Red Sonja - Santuary One-Shot
This week’s Red Sonja one shot is Sanctuary. The tale begins with Red Sonja seeking out Raven, another warrior of Scathach, but one with a much more merciless history. After fighting, and sparing one member of, a mercenary band with the same purpose, Red Sonja finds Raven’s new home. The former warrior has renounced battle and started a peaceful refuge where women can come and live in peace. Raven and her new protégé and former enemy, Evelyn, invite Sonja to stay and join their family, tutoring women in writing and reading, farming, and embracing peace.

There is a pattern to tales of perennial warriors choosing to renounce their past lives and settle in quiet, out of the way, peaceful places, and Mason’s story follows it faithfully. The set up is promising: The sanctuary, Chrysalis, offers a different way of fighting for women’s safety, and Red Sonja probably has more kinship with Raven than with just about anyone else. Unfortunately, in order for the pattern to be played out, Red Sonja has to be both uncharacteristically merciful (even before she finds Raven’s sanctuary), and uncharacteristically foolish, forgetting the wariness years of fighting must teach. These are flaws many a warrior who renounces violence shares—at least in story—but that does not make it less exasperating to read.

Solanga’s art is a mixed bag. Close-ups portray a group of attractive, reasonably expressive women, even if their features do not always match the angles of their faces. Once the shot pulls away, people’s features become inexplicably enlarged, if no more detailed. The sanctuary itself is peaceful and appealing looking; one can see why Sonja is tempted to stay. There is plenty of room and a nice, traditional, agrarian area, plus a good-sized library.

Recommended for people who have never read a tale in which a warrior comes to settle in a peaceful village, people who are passionately fond of stories where warriors settle in peaceful villages, or Red Sonja completists. Others should consider trying Simone’s more complex take in Red Sonja #10 (out this week) and/or Bill Willingham’s Ledgenderry #4 (also out this week).

Writer: Marc Mason
Artist: Noah Solanga
Colors: Salvator Aiala Studios
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover: Sergio Fernandez Davila

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