Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #0 caught my attention because about a month ago, there was some buzz on Reddit about how comic books were objectifying women like Power Girl with her outfit or Catwoman with her tight leather costume. A user then linked to images of Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #0’s cover art, with a loincloth that left little to the imagination.
I just had to review the title, to see if it was as much fan service as the Reddit users purported.
For a first issue preview, it really didn’t lend itself to fan service. What it did tell was a story of a woman with deeply held beliefs about some of the regional lore, and her fight to keep the order of that area of the jungle.
After reading up a bit about the character Sheena, she actually has quite a bit of history in the comic book world. She is the first female character to have her own comic book title predating Wonder Woman. Her title, under the publisher Fiction House, premiered in 1938 in the United States. In comparison, Wonder Woman came out in December of 1941. Add to that numerous iterations of her being produced throughout the years in other comic book titles.
With such a rich history, you’d think the artist, Moritat, would draw her in such a way to… highlight certain areas… However, what we see from this preview issue is a PG-13 blonde girl living in a jungle environment. Given the stuff on the internet, the material is hardly anything that would cause a great amount of controversy. From the artwork alone, we can tell that she is physically capable of handling the rough landscape of her surroundings.
Along with not drawing Sheena in compromising positions, Moritat also draws her environment with a certain complexity and beauty. He somehow makes the jungle a living, breathing entity just as much as Sheena is. As she interacts with the trees and ground, they bend, break, or move ever so slightly in response. Signing Moritat to do the artwork for this title was a brilliant decision, and did justice to a title so long honored in American comic book history.
Marguerite Bennett and Christina Trujillo write Sheena as having an extensive vocabulary. She is concerned with keeping the somewhat unwritten code of the jungle. The writing team tries to honor the long history of Sheena. There’s also little hints of her past in a few panels when she interacts with items that are foreign to her home. Overall, she is an intelligent woman who uses her prowess to survive and keep the order.
With having a character with such a rich history, there is a danger of falling short of developing her character. There may be a satisfaction with just hinting at that history without delving into it. Also, at times she looks like she’s talking with herself about her decisions, what moves she makes and trying to justify them. When we have a lot of action on a page, there is a suspension of disbelief when other things happen that aren’t as prevalent, like dialogue. That suspension somewhat melts away as dialogue becomes longer. Complex dialogue doesn’t jive when a character is doing backflips and somersaults.
Sheena: Queen of the Jungle: #0 is a short story that could very well be a memorable series going forward. There is a lot of stuff teasing us in this issue that promises a fish-out-of-water story much like Tarzan was. This with the twist of being in the modern era with advents of technology and today’s culture. The artwork by Moritat is beautiful and perfectly captures moments of serenity while emphasizing action and movement. Bennet and Trujillo strive to bring strength and complexity to a character with such a long history. The authors also pay homage to Sheena’s rich media history in both comics and film.
- The artwork is gorgeous!
- Character drawing can capture action and stillness well.
- Writing pays homage to rich history of Sheena.
- Some dialogue doesn’t seem plausible.
- Sheena has a lot of history that might be skipped over