As Sonja looks forward from the death of Dragan, she sets her sight on Khitai, a kingdom looking to maintain power. Within this kingdom, we receive word from a prince seeking to expedite his coronation to become King, so that he may have the power to crush the killer of kings, Red Sonja.
During this process, we see a grab for power from an unsavory personality, a focus on a widow mourning the loss of both a king and a son, and Sonja as she seeks to maintain peace with the new world power. All of these elements will factor into another arc based around either the death of another king, the death of Red Sonja or a world at war once more.
Within these pages, Russel delivers on setting the stage for multiple story elements, while maintaining a focus on war strategies and political intrigue. As Sonja approaches Khitai, we see her traverse a narrow passageway and get assaulted by soldiers. This results in using the height disadvantage to place shields above the horse and allies to block incoming arrows. Then we see soldiers at the end get tricked by a horse, and a surprise attack by Sonja and her two allies. This showcases more of her military prowess and ability to conceive a tactic to beat those who look to have an advantage.
Another element we got in this issue was two political intrigue moments; Dragan’s son and the prince of Khitai’s rise to power. During the moments focused on Dragan’s son, we see a wife in mourning as the son is already on his journey to seek vengeance against Sonja. this quest for vengeance will be showcased in the Killing Red Sonja series as we follow the aftermath from Dragan, through his son.
While these events transpire, we’re also given a flashback to Khitai, after the death of Dragan. There we see a crooked prince work his way to advance his power as quick as he can. To do so, he tells the elders that Sonja killed both Domo and Dragan, when Sonja had nothing to do with Domo’s death. This results in an expedited coronation and a means to turn the city of Khitai against Sonja.
Since we’re seeing Sonja get betrayed, there’ll be a strong chance that she seeks to kill the new king. This will result in two story arcs where she ends up pitted against kings.
As a storyline, Red Sonja’s latest arc can go one of two ways; more of the same political intrigue, drawn out wars and king killing; or we’ll see the rise of Sonja as queen of the lands. If we see more of the same, then Russel will have to focus on different war tactic elements and political intrigue twist and turns to make for another unique storyline. If we see a war or intrigue geared towards Sonja proving her innocence and becoming the queen of the lands. If we do see Sonja becoming Queen, it could add onto the Killing Red Sonja storyline. This would make for a change of focus in that story and deliver the potential for a Queen killer, should this arc result in Sonja becoming Queen of all the lands that Dragan once controlled.
Overall, this issue does a good job at setting the stage with multiple plot points for this next arc and giving us more development from a variety of characters. Russel’s biggest strength in this series has been his ability to shift focus and provide impactful storytelling from different characters, rather than giving us tunnel vision and focusing on everything from Sonja’s point of view.