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Dynamite Entertainment

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Written by Brandon Jerwa and Drawn by Jonathan Lau

Those familiar with the GALACTICA television show know that Admiral Helena Cain, commander of the Battlestar Pegasus, was pretty much batshitinsane. She led through fear and tyranny. Allowed rape as a torture method. Attempted to execute two members of the Galactica crew for trying to stop one of her officers from committing a horrible act. And she staffed her ship, after the initial Cylon attack, with conscripted civilians. Dangerous fanatic + firepower= scary. The question, though, was “Why?” Was she always that way? Or did something push her over the edge. That’s what this one-shot attempts to explain.

And to a certain extent, it does. It doesn’t do so perfectly; indeed, there’s one small subplot dealing with letters Cain writes to her father that comes across as just flat-out wrong and unnecessary. But some of the rest of it really works. The Pegasus is sent on a mission that works as a follow-up to one of Adama’s (season three’s introduction of lost pilot Bulldog), sending her and her ship into the middle of a possible Cylon infestation in neutral territory. It’s a brutal and horrific job, and you can easily see where Jerwa is trying to show how it takes its toll. However, it doesn’t always come across as strongly as it should in the art on the page. Lau’s work on the action sequences is a little loose here and there and things get hard to follow, which dampens the story’s movement.

There’s also a death in the third act that is either pure genius and a solid impetus behind Cain’s development into a tyrant or the loopiest homage to STAR TREK’S “The Doomsday Machine” that I’ve ever seen. I still don’t know what to make of it.

Ultimately, PEGASUS is a pretty decent effort. Not great, nor a disaster, it tries hard and entertains as best it can.

Marc Mason

Written and Drawn by Eduardo Risso and Carlos Trillo

Set in a dystopian future, BORDERLINE tells the story of former lovers turned assassins for the two ruling bodies of the society that remains. Emil works for The Commune, and the things he’s done with his life, especially during the time he lived as a junkie, haunt him. The worst among those actions was to sell his girlfriend to black market organ harvesters for a fix. Lisa, said girlfriend, managed to survive and become somewhat rebuilt, and she now kills for The Council. Needless to say, they have some issues.

The back cover of this book has a large pull-quote from my review of volume one, and as Dynamite is a company with integrity, those words are taken completely in context and I can stand by them. However, I did have my doubts that later volumes could match how good the first was. To my surprise, I enjoyed volume two much, much more than I liked volume one. And that should tell you something right there.

What makes this book even better is that it becomes a bit more focused and the characters begin to grow a bit. In particular, Emil’s growing unease at his role as a killer takes center stage, leading him to take some interesting and intriguing directions in how he carries out the (ahem) execution of his work. But there’s also a nice diversion into the supporting cast here, and the book doesn’t skip a bit with Emil and Lisa offstage. That really says a lot about the quality of work being done here.

BORDERLINE is comics for grownups in the best possible way. Smart, edgy material for the reader who is truly mature.

Marc Mason

Written by Frank Cho and Doug Murray and Drawn by Adriano Batista

“Make it quick. I feel a little exposed out here.” If there was an award for the most “meta” moment of the year in a comic, that might just take home the prize. That line of dialogue, spoken by the titular Jungle Girl in issue one, sort of sums up how confounding the series is here at the start. The plot is reasonably solid, a classic really: plane crashes in jungle, survivors meet mysterious guide who can take them to safety. Guide speaks English but knows nothing about human civilization, though she is smart enough to wear the tiniest bikini imaginable. Monsters and scary stuff must be avoided along the way, etc. I’m good with that. Always liked those stories, really, and those bits here are very cool. Dinosaurs, sea monsters, nasty plant life… excellent.

But, good lord, the amount of fanservice would put half a dozen mangas to shame. The previous line appears on a page where panel one is an ass-shot of Jungle Girl walking away. Panel two is a longer shot, focused on her ass, of her walking away. And the line of dialogue appears in panel four, a medium shot of her ass facing the camera, with her torso turned just enough to see most of the side of her breast with the nipple barely covered. The previous page also features a panel of her breasts in close-up (with a dialogue balloon emitting from them!) and another panel of just her ass (which doesn’t speak- thank God) inset in a larger panel that has the fuselage of a plane pointing directly at it. Zoinks!

It sort of leaves the reader wondering if you’re supposed to take the book seriously or not, and that’s a shame. Jungle stories really are a lot of fun, and while a little cheesecake is to be expected (or, if you’re a Tarzan fan, a little beefcake), it really hampers JUNGLE GIRL here at the start. Good cheesecake enhances the entertainment value of the story; an overdose kills it. For JUNGLE GIRL to succeed in the long run, it’s going to have to decide what it is; either it’s a parody, in which case, what’s here works perfectly, or it’s an exciting jungle action tale with a female lead, and a balance with the art will have to be found. Right now, I’m on the wait-and-see, you know?

Marc Mason

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