(Possible spoilers ahead)
Leave it to Gail Simone to take a familiar storyline and make magic out of it. It doesn't hurt to have one of the most dynamic she-devils in print as your heroine either. Even after a drunken orgy, Red Sonja is willing to lend a group of nuns a hand in protecting their precious library. It's a revealing and exciting adventure in Red Sonja #17.
The story of oppressed people seeking out a great warrior to help defend themselves is not new. It's a common theme in westerns in particular and in the right hands can be an exhilarating experience. In Simone's hands, it's not only exhilarating it's also a thoughtful exploration of Sonja's upbringing and the treasure that is found in the written word.
Three young nuns and their elder matron, Arbreckt, enlist Sonja to help defend their Citadel of Knowledge, a library of ancient texts and books. It doesn't impress her because she never fully grasped reading and writing and struggled mightily. It's quite the moment as she reminisces about her childhood and how difficult it was to read and write. The poignancy in having this great larger-than-life warrior who's brave and confident but is repulsed by the sight of the things that represent her biggest weakness is a melancholy one.
Tomes of history and wisdom befuddle the she-devil and in doing so Simone has carved another dimension into her famous red-haired maiden. It's refreshing to see a protagonist be vulnerable and show weakness from time to time. Not to worry though Sonja still wields her sword in the issue, but Simone places layers and layers within the story that makes the action earned.
The art team is incredible with Walter Geovani's pencils, Vinicius Andrade's colors and Simon Bowland's letters. Each is vitally important in telling the story. The amount of detail Geovani creates in each panel is above and beyond the usual comic book. The character designs are smooth and expressive. He makes it look easy. Andrade's colors enliven each panel with bold glossy hues that add so much depth in the scene. Bowland is working overtime as he has to tailor the word balloons to so many different characters even death.
It all culminates into a wonderful read that ends in a great cliffhanger that will make you want issue #18 right this minute. Red Sonja in general is a phenominal character for her humor, wit, tenacity and confidence. Under Simone, Sonja continually is growing and developing. It would be a crime not to pick up this series.