Overview

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #1

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Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #1

Credits

  • Words: Steven de Souza & Robert Rodi
  • Art: Matt Merhoff
  • Inks: Matt Merhoff
  • Colors: Wes Dzioba
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Devil's Due Publishing
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jun 27, 2007

The legendary jungle goddess returns in this re-imagining of a classic character from comics’ Golden Age.

The South American country of Val Verde is a land in turmoil. General Henriquez, a murderous revolutionary, has placed the populace under martial law with himself as president-for-life. The unscrupulous Cardwell Industries continually exploits the country’s rain forests and natural resources. Still, the people are not without hope. Val Verde looks for salvation to a mysterious goddess, an urban legend born of folk beliefs and undocumented sightings. Who is this blonde-haired valkyrie in leopard skins and what is her connection to Cardwell?

Originally created by comics legends Will Eisner and S.M. "Jerry" Iger in 1937, Sheena is the archetypal "jungle girl" that inspired a whole sub-genre of comics. Like Red Sonja (whose resurgence no doubt played a role in bringing Sheena back to the stands), there’s a certain guilty pleasure aspect to characters like this. Can Devil’s Due overcome the more shallow cheesecake elements of such a series to deliver a worthwhile story?

Signs are promising so far. Steven de Souza and Robert Rodi’s revamp of Sheena appears to be forgoing the pulpier elements in favor of playing up the political and environmental themes of her world. Issue 1 is devoted primarily to establishing the setting and the conflicts that have brought Val Verde to its current state. It makes use of a clever narrative that jumps back and forth through time, revealing enticing pieces of the puzzle and the thirty-plus year journey of the Cardwell family. This gives us a story with more emotional weight than simply an excuse to ogle the scantily clad heroine. There’s a dream sequence that’s a bit on the ridiculous side but other than this, it’s a pretty solid first offering.

Likewise, Matt Merhoff’s art seems up to the task. His work is in keeping with what has almost become the Devil’s Due house style, a mix of no-frills realism with a slight cartoonist touch in the faces. While Sheena herself has a somewhat limited role in this issue, Merhoff’s take on her has such vengeful intensity that she has an instantly commanding presence. My only disappointment on the artistic front is that, again like Red Sonja, Devil’s Due is releasing a series of variant covers for each issue. I wish publishers didn’t feel the need to do this so often but alas, this trend seems to be coming back.

If you’re just in this for a half-naked chick in a bikini, well, Frank Cho’s Shanna may be your better bet. If, however, you don’t mind an attempt to add a little depth to a somewhat silly premise, this interpretation of Sheena may be worth keeping an eye on.

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