Red Sonja: Raven (one-shot)

A comic review article by: Ray Tate

When Sonja learns of a wave of murder perpetuated in the name of her goddess Scathach, she investigates and discovers another worshipper.

Raped and tortured by men, Raven called out in pain, and Scathach answered.

Raven however is a zealot, and while Sonja will dish out violence when necessary, she tempers the slash of her blade with wisdom. She kills only those who demand her attention but leaving others in peace. Raven's not so discerning.

Death of a Gentleman

This is an excellent Red Sonja special. It drives a steel blade between Red Sonja and her imitators. It distinguishes a champion and warrior from a murderer. The differences are sometimes subtle in the brutal worlds created by Robert E. Howard, but gulfs rest within these nuances that separate Conan, Kull and Sonja from the mad kings and wanton warriors they fight.

Marc Mason characterizes Sonja as a thinking She-Devil with a Sword having greater depth than most of her opponents imagine. Sonja studies Raven's army and considers what led them to the ranks. She sympathizes with the women, but that won't stop her from seeing justice done.

No Sisters of Sonja

Sonja kills men and women so long as it's justified. Raven on the other hand will murder women if they attempt to impede her mission, which gives Sonja the opportunity to demonstrate her compassion.

Mercy of the Sword

In creating a stark contrast to Sonja, Mason furthermore explores Sonja's mythology. Many real world feminists looked with eyes askew at Roy Thomas' interpretation of the character. It wasn't just the abbreviated chain-mail but also an insistence that's recapitulated here.

Sonja's Vow

The story all naturally boils down to a duel pitting Sonja against Raven. Raven is the fairer of fighters. Whereas Sonja will employ any trick to win. Raven almost pretends to be what she believed Sonja to be while still harboring and fomenting misanthropy.

Whatever the technique, artists Lui Antonio and Salvatore Aiala illustrate the female body in action with a gorgeous, colorful, visceral flair. However this very precision regarding the female form can be distracting. There's no other way to put this. Raven sports a record number of camel-toes.

9 Out of 17 Camel-Toes Recommend This Review

You can argue that the loin cloths that cover the women including Sonja are made of silk for comfort. So there's a practicality there, and the cloth would naturally form fit. On the other hand, Antonio could have easily lessened the exposure in the panels. I'm not arguing that he should be censored, nor should this realism be eschewed. Rather, it should be used in brief, pun not intended, for a flash, pun not intended, just to show the authenticity diaphanously draped anatomy.

Raven however did not lose points for the multitude of depiction. Though the accent is distracting, the artwork is nevertheless breathtaking, and the fight choreography inventive. The story is strong, but the ending falls apart, and it's more than just the plotting.

While Sonja chooses to deliver justice, another character's actions puzzle, and the attitude from Raven runs a gamut of evolution in one page. It's as if time flowed faster and years of reflection consolidated into minutes.



Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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