Review: Barb Wire #1


The Adam Hughes variant

Dark Horse is really putting the push behind the relaunch of Barb Wire. Their promotion for retailers to trade in Star Wars #1 variant covers in order to get a rare Adam Hughes variant cover of Barb Wire #1 ends tomorrow. If you are a retailer and still want in on getting a Barb Wire #1 variant, then overnight them bad boys to Dark Horse today, because if they don’t arrive by tomorrow, then you’re out of luck.

Now, if all you know about Barb Wire comes from that movie with Pamela Anderson, then you need to stop, forget that the movie ever happened, and give the character another chance. Barb Wire debuted on August 2, 1993 in Comics Greatest World: Steel Harbor #1 – Barb Wire as part of Dark Horse’s new Heroes imprint. (source) The imprint became Dark Horse Heroes and also featured the characters Ghost and X. Barb Wire is the owner of a bar in the rough city of Steel Harbor. She takes bounty hunter jobs to help pay the bills for her bar. Although she thinks of herself as a loner, she has several allies, including her blind brother, Charlie. Oh, and she hates being called “babe.”


barbwire1BARB WIRE #1

Writer: Chris Warner
Penciller: Patrick Olliffe
Inker: Tom Nguyen
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Cover Artist: Adam Hughes
Publication Date: July 01, 2015
FC, 32 pages; $3.99

Nail-hard tough and drop-dead gorgeous, Barb Wire is the baddest bounty hunter on the mean streets of Steel Harbor, where gangsters can lift bulldozers and leap rusting factories in a single bound. The hunting is stupid good and the bounties are hella big—if Barb lives long enough to collect!

*Covers by Adam Hughes!
*Price box, barcode, etc., will appear on the backcover.

To be perfectly honest, the character has never appealed to me, because despite her rough demeanor against being patronized for her gender and appearance, she’s inevitably gets depicted as a sexpot. The Adam Hughes regular cover doesn’t help that notion. Fortunately the story inside does.

Barb Wire comes across as the hero of her own story, and by no means a sexpot. She’s drawn attractive, and wears a semi-transparent shirt in her bar, but she carries herself like any strong character. At no point in the writing does she come across as a stereotype of the comic book heroine. The story reinforces the synopsis of her character, adding the element that she has agreed to be followed by a reality television crew out capture the excitement of her secondary job as a bounty hunter. The added story element of the gentrification of Steel Harbor is also a clever addition that a lesser writer would not have added on top of gang warfare.

As I mentioned, Pat Olliffe draws her as a character in command of her surroundings, and the opening scene is done excellently. but there are a few panels where she’s drawn more traditionally for a female comic book character, and I have my qualms about the shirt she wears in the bar that is see-through, thankfully, her bra is drawn as if she planned this outfit. These shirts exist, and I don’t believe that the outfit was chosen to make her more sexually appealing, but when combined with a couple of shots in the book, it just looks a little too much like cheesecake. Pat Olliffe is a good artists for this book, but I just feel like a stronger editorial hand needs to go over these pages, especially for this character, in this socio-political climate that has covers being pulled, and traditionally accepted artists being criticized for sexualizing female characters.

Is it a good book? Yeah, and the story has elements that I like, but I think I want the art to treat Barb Wire with as much respect as she demands in the story, and she demands a lot.

However, the opening six pages are awesome. I really liked them.