Red Sonja: Bless the beasts and the children
Red Sonja (Vol. 5) #16
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
Cover: Jae Lee
FC | 32 pages | Sword and Sorcery | $3.99 | Teen+
She is Sonja the Red, the Master of War. But is anyone really its master? Or, as Dynamite Entertainment‘s Red Sonja (Vol. 5) #16 seems to tell us, is the truth that no one really wins in a war?
Least of all ordinary people. Particularly the children. Spoilers ahead.
War is stupid
Writer Mark Russell continues chronicling Year Two, when the She-Devil we all know and love was still the young Sonja the Red. And as I mentioned in my review, the mini-series Killing Red Sonja spins out from the events in this title. This issue even briefly shows what’s happening to Emperor Cyril and tells readers to follow his adventures in the mini-series.
This issue is a meditation on the nature of war, power, and tradition. Queen Sonja has slain Emperor Dragan the Magnificent, but now she must seek help from her sworn enemy, Emperor Jo’Qhan of Khitai.
She must swallow her pride in order to get food and succor for her ravaged homeland. Such is the nature of the world and war. There are no real victors. Only temporary conquerors strutting on the stage. Now the Master of War must capture new territory for Khitai.
“But on the bright side, they won’t be any more miserable under us than their current masters.
“I suppose run-of-the-mill misery is the best you can hope for in this world.”
Sins of the father
As the Master of War finally sees the army that Khitai is providing her, she is shocked.
“But they’re… children!
“Nonsense. They’re all at least twelve.”
Is it shocking, really? In this brutal world, where children must suffer for the sins of their fathers?
War has no rhyme or reason. Sometimes it is a display of power. Sometimes it is a form of tradition.
And in this almost elegiac tale of the futility of war, a heartbreaking secret is revealed about one of the most solemn traditions in Khitai.
“Nobody truly knows which, if either, story is true.
“They only know that the grief they feel is real. So they mourn her.”
In war, we are all mourners.
(Editor’s note: This review is based on an advanced review copy provided by Diamond Entertainment. Red Sonja (Vol. 5) #16 shipped on July 1.)