Barbarella #1 Review
One of Dynamite’s releases this week is a comics character with a history going back decades. Barbarella presents the space-faring heroine popularized by Jane Fonda in 1968, based on the French science fiction comic from 1962. Knowing the history, I dove into the comic to see if Mike Carey’s new series drew more from the film everyone knows or the comic that is the basis for that film.
Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Kenan Yarar
Cover A: Kenneth Rocafort
Cover B: Joe Jusko
Cover C: Joseph Michael Linsner
Cover D: Robert Hack
Cover E: Annie Wu
Cover F: Kenan Yarar
Cover G: Valentine DeLandro
Cover H: Veronica Fish
Cover I Subscription: Roberto Castro
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
Page Count: 32 Pages
ON SALE DATE: 12/6/2017
Earth’s star-crossed daughter is back! When Barbarella wanders into a war zone, the theocratic rulers of Parosia arrest and imprison her. A prison break is brewing, but now that she knows what the Parosians do to their own citizens Barbarella decides to make this fight her own…
The other reviews that I’ve read of this comic tout it’s feminist message. The thing about Barbarella is the feminist message behind the character is centered around sexuality. It’s a concept that was much more appropriate to the 1960s, but in today’s culture, it can come across as very gratuitous and more appealing to men than to women. The problem with that type of feminism is that men can twist it into a reason to objectify women. This can also be poorly translated depending on the abilities of the writers. Mike Carey is a capable writer, and the message isn’t centered around Barbarella’s sexuality, becoming more of a condemnation of an oppressive theocratic philosophy. On this level, the comics works in its mission to create social commentary. Where it does not work is as an expression of female empowerment. It also reads more of an adaptation of the source material that readers are less familiar with than the film everyone is more likely to connect with the name Barbarella.
The artwork is very suited to an adaptation of a European comic without trying to intentionally copy the stereotypical style of European comics. A lot of this comes from Kenan Yerar not being an American comic artist, and his style is well suited to this character. He has a tendency to make characters that prescribe to the brutish and oppressive dogmatism brutish, hideous and ugly. I don’t believe that this is unintentional, as it comments on the theocracy and those that believe in it being as horrible on the outside as they are on the inside. It’s a bit of cartooning shorthand, but as long as it remains consistent, it works. The storytelling is consistent and easy to follow, which works well in getting the written story and its underlying message across without getting in the way, as a lesser, yet technically skilled artist (most examples I could cite are American) would do and try to upstage the writer. Yerar shows that he is helping to tell a story and is working on a team.
Rating: 7.0 (out of 10)
Overall, it’s a successful comic, and I’ll most likely read the next issue. I don’t know that its necessarily a feminist comic, but it does have a message to tell beyond being a comic about a character named Barbarella.