In Review: Lords of the Jungle #1

Where has this book been all my life?

The covers: Five to track down while on safari to your local comic book store. The A cover is by Alex Ross. Knowing this, a reader is prepared for this to be quality, but, again, Ross exceeds expectations with a gorgeous shot of a magnificent Tarzan and Sheena in a tree. He’s a bronze, buff god and she a beautiful blonde goddess. However, should one think them just fine specimens of humanity in a tree, look closer: they each have knives out and ready. The colors are beautiful, with fantastic greens and a blue background that swallows distant branches in a mist. A stunning cover. Please note, the image accompanying this review is much has a greener tint than the actual cover. The B is by Roberto Castro and Dinei Ribeiro. This is an incredibly detailed cover that features not just the two characters in the jungle, but practically every animal that follows their words. This is also a “Wow” cover. The C is a Blank Authentix cover for a fan to get an artist to draw a sketch on. Nice, but just not for me. The D is the Black and White Variant of the B cover. It’s impressive to see all that Castro did before Ribeiro added his colors. I like this, but I do prefer it with Ribeiro’s contributions. The final cover, the E, is the Alex Ross Artboard Variant. This shows Ross’s process in making his cover. It’s beautiful and one to track down. Overall grades: A A+, B A+, C C, D A-, and E A+

The story: “Val Verde, Deep in the Amazon. Present day.” Just below a dam a construction project is beginning, but comes to a halt when a guard runs up to the foreman. “It’s true! Three of the guards are missing! She must be a witch or something!” Sheena leaps down from the trees shooing flaming arrows and is accompanied by a black panther. She tells the men she will not let them “desecrate this ancient place of power.” One of the arrows hits fuel leaking from a truck and it explodes. This causes the foreman to radio in that he wants the dam blown and the man then raises his pistol at Sheena. Things get momentarily better for the Queen of the Jungle, in this tale crafted by Corinna Bechko, and then things go horribly wrong for her. She ends up in an unknown location; though it does look somewhat familiar, all—even the wildlife—are different. After encountering a very famous landmark, she encounters men who seek to do the same evils to the land, and these men are then attacked by some very iconic villains. Just as it seems Sheena is doomed, the story shifts to a new location for the final two pages, showing what Edgar Rice Burroughs’s character is up to. Great characterization and great action. This honors all that Burroughs, Jerry Iger, and Will Eisner created. Overall grade: A+

The art: This book has some jaw droppingly beautiful art by Roberto Castro. He teases his artistic abilities by showing just enough of the jungle while focusing on what industry brings to this wilderness. The second page is a fantastic introduction for Sheena, starting with a close-up, moving to her bursting from the foliage with arrows flying, and then down to the ground as she punches the men. She looks amazing and the layout of the page is unlike any I’ve seen before. The action sequence as she’s battling the foreman while flames move their way to the tanker is as good as the action scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The explosion is huge and any reader will be able to feel that blast. The arrival of one Sheena’s allies is spectacular on Page 5. Pages 10 and 11 are an outstanding double-paged spread and they marvelously show Sheena’s recent past and what she believes to be her near future. Her entrance to a new location is great and I was left breathless as to what lay before her on 12. Page 16 is a full page splash and it had me cheering with these characters’ arrival: I didn’t think they would be in this series and I love every one of their appearances. The action that follows is intense and occurring on many levels. Pages 20 is absolutely gorgeous for the emotions it shows on Sheena, with that last panel being incredible. The last two pages are set in an entirely different location and they left me chomping at the bit to see what Castro does there next month. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Alex Guimaraes’s colors contribute to the power of Castro’s visuals significantly. The gorgeous blue skies in the opening sequence make the jungle seemed blessed by the gods, while the yellows and greys of civilization come off as blemishes on the land. Sheena’s arrival is beautiful with the amount of green for the jungle, the blues for the sky, and the yellows of the center panel that move the reader’s focus to the Queen’s first actions. Fire looks amazing with its reds, yellows, and oranges, with the blast being truly spectacular. Sheena’s ally is beautifully colored, with his colors giving him a dramatic entrance. There’s quite a bit of water in this opening, and Guimaraes makes it real with all the different ways he injects colors into its swirling mass. The final two pages are also strong, with different blues employed to denote the night, and they, too, look great. Guimaraes does on outstanding job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, screams, sounds, yells, a whistle, animal speak, handwriting, and next issue’s tease are created by Simon Bowland. All look great, with the sounds being particularly awesome with power they bring to scenes. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Where has this book been all my life? I went through junior high reading Tarzan tales and read Sheena’s adventures in high school. Combining these two protectors of the jungle into one tale is fantastic and the creators have done a bang up job in telling it. Superior jungle action. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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