Monday, April 21, 2014

Sheena #1 (Moonstone Books 2014) - A Review

Moonstone Books' Sheena #1 is a good comic but a bad first issue.  This is because, in all the ways that matter, this isn't a first issue but a continuation of the 2007 Sheena series printed by Devil's Due Publishing.  Reinvented for the modern day by Die Hard screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, this series established The Queen Of The Jungle as Rachael Caldwell - an heiress thought lost in the Amazon as an infant, who was raised by friendly natives and taught the ways of the animals.   Now, having been reunited with her robber-baron grandfather, Rachael plays at being a vapid party girl by day while spending her nights protecting the rain-forests as Sheena.

This is briefly explained at the start of this issue but precious little else is.  It seems to have been assumed that anyone reading this book will already be familiar with the DDP Sheena series, which is a bad assumption after several years of inactivity and never a good idea for a first issue.  We do get glimpses of Sheena's supporting cast - shaman Don Felipe, environmentalist Bob Kellerman and bodyguard Martin Ransome - but only Kellerman is identified directly by name.  In fact, Martin Ransome's name is not mentioned once in the whole issue!

The artwork by Jake Minor is equally problematic.  Minor is a good artist but I don't believe him to be the right artist for this story.  Minor's style is bold and exaggerated in a way that is reminiscent of Will Eisner's The Spirit.  This would be a fine thing were the script written on the same light-hearted level as Eisner's The Spirit but this book has several bloody moments (including one man taking an arrow through the neck and another man being devoured by piranhas) that are graphic enough to push this book into T+ (16 and Up) territory.  These scenes, as rendered by Minor, look goofy rather than horrifying.

Despite these problems, I enjoyed Sheena #1 immensely.  More care could have been taken to reintroduce the supporting cast but Sheena herself is explained well enough.  More importantly, Sheena is depicted as a capable heroine.  And while I may take issue with certain scenes looking odd, Minor's action sequences are well-choreographed.  There is enough right with this book for me to recommend it, provided you pick up a copy of the first two DDP Sheena collections along with this first issue.    

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