Females have not always been portrayed positively, and oftentimes end up taking supporting roles in stories. However, times are changing for the better and females today are being written as diverse and rounded characters who oftentimes take leading roles in stories. Women in comics today do not all fit a mold like they used to, and girls of all ages can now read comic books and relate to interesting characters that aren’t all men. In this segment, we want to spotlight the She-Devil with a Sword: Red Sonja.
Red Sonja made her first appearance in comic books back in the 70’s in an issue of Conan the Barbarian, and she quickly became the archetypal fantasy figure of a beautiful yet fierce and deadly barbarian. She has had many runs over the years, most often with Dynamite, but for this segment I will be mostly focusing on Gail Simone’s current portrayal of her. In most versions of her origin story, Sonja grew up in a Hyrkanian village until a group of marauders slaughters her family and burns the village. In older versions of the story, Sonja is visited by a goddess and blessed with the strength to exact vengeance on the marauders as long as she never lie with a man unless he defeats her in fair combat.
However, in Simone’s run, there is neither goddess nor promise of chastity. Here, Red Sonja is portrayed as an alcohol-loving barbarian who is as efficient with a blade as she is beautiful. Something particularly intriguing about her portrayal in this story is it’s actually very similar to the mold of a male barbarian; she goes out on adventures fighting all that oppose her, drinks till she’s drunk, and sleeps with whoever she wants whenever she wants. In fact, throughout Simone’s run all of the meek or feeble characters shown have been men, and a lot of the great warriors have been women. This reverse of standards makes for interesting and enjoyable stories as Sonja treks through enemy territory to save the “damoiseau-in-distress.”