Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #1

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.

Jusko cover

Nicola Scott cover

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.

Actor chosen for US Life on Mars

Jason O'MaraJason O’Mara has been chosen to play Sam in David E. Kelly’s US remake of Britain’s Life on Mars TV series.

He was tapped to play Philip Marlowe in a pilot for ABC, but all the articles I’m finding about that are from January and Marlowe doesn’t appear on a list of ABC’s shows for next season, so it looks like that must’ve fallen through. Not sure I wanted to watch a modern-day take on Marlowe anyway, even if I am craving good, private eye shows.

I know O’Mara from his role as Stuart Maxon, Anne Heche’s publisher on Men in Trees. Seems like he wants to play a detective and I bet he’ll be good at it.

Jungle Man (aka Drums of Africa)

Flash and MingThe cover of this DVD said Jungle Man, but the title card in the movie itself claimed that it was Drums of Africa. I’m not sure what the deal is, but it’s not worth trying to figure out.

Whatever it’s called, it’s about an hour long, but half of that is filled with randomly insterted stock footage of animals. The other half-hour is about a party of rich folks who go to Africa to photograph some “lost” ruins called the City of the Dead. The group is made up of a young cad named Bruce, his best friend Andy, Bruce’s fiancé Betty, and Betty’s dad. Betty and her dad aren’t invited at first, but Betty whines about her boring life until Bruce and her dad cave. Her dad’s a pitiful, spineless guy who not only gives in to Betty constantly; he also lets himself get dragged along on her “adventure.”

Dad’s got a brother though who’s a missionary in Africa not far from where the City is supposed to be, so the group hires a worse-than-useless guide (he’s supposed to be funny, but he’s actually stupid, annoying, and dangerous) and goes to find Betty’s uncle. When they get there, they also meet a handsome doctor who’s using the mission as a lab from which he’s trying to cure a local, but deadly plague. And the reverend missionary has a pet tiger that he’s named Satan for some reason. I’m thinking that maybe he’s not as pious as he appears. Either that or he really hates that cat.

The Reverend and Doctor warn Bruce and Andy against trying to find the City. No one’s ever returned alive, etc., etc. Oh, but you need to know how to get there? Here, even though I’ve never been to the City myself, I’ll draw you a very detailed map.

I’d like to tell you that I won’t spoil the ending as a matter of courtesy, but honestly it’s because I’m already bored just thinking about the rest of the movie. There’s no way I’m going to take the time to type it out.

The only notable thing about the film is that it stars Buster “Flash Gordon” Crabbe and Charles “Ming the Merciless” Middleton as Doc Hammond and Reverend Graham. They’re not bad actors and Crabbe is even more charismatic here than he is in the Flash Gordon movies. It’s just too bad that Jungle Man/Drums of Africa is mostly about Betty and Bruce, so neither Crabbe nor Middleton has anything interesting to do.

Links: Comic book cliffhangers, a Lordi movie, and paying your dues

One of the coolest recent comics cliffhangersHorror

There are a couple of Lady Bathory movies in the works.

Heavy metal monster-costume band Lordi is doing a horror movie. And did you know that there are Lordi comics in Finland, written and drawn by Mr. Lordi himself? Me either.

John Rozum and Kody Chamberlain’s The Foundation comic, about a group who’s trying to stop the prophecies of Nostradamus from coming to pass, has been optioned for a film by Paramount.

Comics

Kill All Monsters! editor Jason Rodriguez has a fantastic post up at Blogarama about comic book cliffhangers and that crazy desire comics nerds get for next month’s issue right now.

Women in Fiction

A while back, I was invited to share one of my posts at the POWER in Comics Community. Unfortunately, I couldn’t access the site at the time, but it looks like I can now. The group’s mission statement is to Promote Ownership of stores and publishing houses, Writing & drawing of comics, Editing of comics & Reading of comics and graphic novels for women and minorities. I’m having trouble signing up for it, but once I can I’ll be sure to take them up on their invitation.

Writing (and making comics) is Hard

The Beat has a great summary of the recent MoCCa (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) Festival. I especially like her thoughts on alleged “classism” in the indie comics community and the need to pay one’s dues.

Alas, even in a world as egalitarian as indie comics, where almost everyone wants the kids to do alright, the reality is that not everything is created equal … But it takes a while to become a Paul Pope or Adrian Tomine, let alone a Kim Deitch. Maybe you have to pay your dues by sitting there behind a table wishing someone would stop by. Maybe being more selective and having to pay your dues is part of the process.

As someone who’s done a fair share of “sitting there behind a table wishing someone would stop by,” I certainly think so.

Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me

I could smooch Steve Jobs right now.