Legendary barbarian warrior and heroine, Sonja is a long-running comic book staple. Gail Simone, the current Red Sonja writer, has described her as "mayhem, blood, sex, and red hair" and "lusty, a bit of a drunkard[who] does what she wants, says what she wants, and if you give her any shit, it's entirely possible she'll slay you and your best friend and your best friend's cat."
Sonja is everything you would expect of a barbarian--violent, bold, and debaucherous. She doesn't give two shakes whether you like her scale mail bikini, she wears it because it gives her freedom to move and because...because she wants to, that's why! If you have any more questions about it, feel free to address them to the tip of her sword.
Robert E. Howard created Conan the Barbarian and the character Red Sonya, from which the Red Sonja character evolved. Howard is also credited with pioneering the swords and sorcery subgenre of fantasy. The original, Red Sonya, was a warrior woman who wielded two pistols, a sabre, and two daggers. Her first appearance was in the debut of "The Shadow of the Vulture" in the January 1934 issue of Magic Carpet.
Even in the pages of a pulp magazine, where women were usually shivering behind bookcases or damsels in distress, Red Sonya of Rogatino storms in and defies social expectations, fighting alongside men, starting drunken brawls, and brutally executing her enemies.
In 1973, Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith reworked Howard's Red Sonja of Rogatino, added some inspiration from Dark Agnes de Chastillion to create the Red Sonja we now know.
Thomas' version of the She-Devil with a Sword was a vengeful heroine. Her strength and skills were bequeathed by the goddess Scáthach after some horrific events that she was unable to prevent.
While the originals were pretty amazing, the Gail Simone reboot is bloody fantastic! Not just the story, the artwork has been masterful, as well. I strongly recommend Red Sonja to anyone who likes swords and sorcery and strong female icons. Five warrior princesses out of five raise their blades to this character's steel.