I hate variant covers.
Not for any moral, “they’re-ruining-comics” reasons; just because I sometimes have a hard time choosing which to buy. When I was reading Dynamite’s Red Sonja series, it was especially difficult because I’d usually like two or three of the covers every issue (but I refuse to buy more than one copy of the same book). That’s what ultimately led to my dropping the monthly Red Sonja issues in favor of picking up the eventual collections with their complete cover galleries.
That’s not why I’m not going to buy any more of Devil’s Due’s Sheena, but I’ll get to that in a second. I’m just bringing it up because I had a hard time picking between these two covers.
I love Joe Jusko’s work in general, and the lush background in that top image is gorgeous, and exactly what a cool, jungle setting should look like. His Sheena is stunning, but not overly sexualized. Still, she’s just standing there.
Nicola Scott’s cover in the second image is sparse on setting, but Sheena is so kick-butt in it. That’s the one I ended up with.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the story turned me off enough that I won’t have to make that decision again. Rather than having cool, jungle adventures, Sheena gets to join up with some environmentalists to defeat an evil corporation that’s destroying the rainforest. Not that saving rainforests isn’t a noble effort, but “yawn.”
Sheena doesn’t even fight anyone in this issue. Her panther does, but just a corporate lackey with a handgun. Who, by the way, feels the need to offer a long explanation of why he’s justified killing Sheena before he actually does it. And she just stands there and let’s him finish.
Once Sheena does decide to take action, she’s shot with a tranquelizer dart before she can do anything. How exciting.
You’ll notice that there’s also a strong focus on Sheena’s butt. I’m not actually complaining about that. I don’t have a problem with her being sexy or scantily clad; those are requirements of the genre, whether you’re talking about Sheena or Tarzan. And dadgummit, they’re fun requirements.
Althought this picture is pushing it:
Johanna at Comics Worth Reading expresses her concerns with this panel: “I don’t think a human body can do that — isn’t there a scary amount of torso hidden behind that giant thigh? gotta make sure we don’t block the boobies — but it does present an in-your-face crotch shot.”
I’m going to argue that she might be wrong about the anatomy and that it’s an improbable, but not impossible pose. But she’s right about the purpose of the shot. It’s completely gratuitious and unsubtle, even for a jungle girl book.
Johanna’s being too harsh with her next comment though: “Speaking of face, who cares about that? Hair means not having to draw features or cheekbones.” From her comment about “idly checking out” the book, I’m guessing that she didn’t actually read it (not that I necessarily blame her), but it becomes obvious later on that keeping Sheena’s face obscured for a while is intentional. And not because Matt Merhoff can’t draw faces. When she lands after being tranquelized, there are several shots of her like this:
I’m not sure why they went that way. I think maybe they were trying to get us to think that maybe Sheena was someone we’d recognize, but she’s not, so the big “reveal” — while proving that Merhoff’s not hiding an inability to draw features and cheekbones — is a letdown. Sadly, just like the rest of the book.