Indie Comics Spotlight – Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #1, Samurai Slasher: Late Fees, and P.i.S. Paranormal Investigators Showdown #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #1

The jungle brings with it an abundance of natural beauty. It also brings with it danger for both its inhabitants and visitors – welcome or not. In Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, all of the above is on display. The issue is written by Marguerite Bennett and Christina Trujillo, illustrated by Moritat and Dimi Macheras, colored by Moritat and Casey Silver, and lettered by Thomas Napolitano.

When a dangerous group of mercenaries sent by Cadwell Industries accuses her village of murdering one of their men, Sheena is forced to make a deal. To save her home, Sheena now has 24 hours to find the missing man alive; if she fails, the mercenaries will attack – and they take no prisoners. But Sheena is not the only one hunting for the missing man…

Characters like Sheena work best when pitting them against the foreign, outside world and in that regard, the story really isn’t that much different than others before it. Where Bennett and Trujillo seek to change things is by emboldening Sheena’s presence as a strong lead. Sheena has always been characterized as a strong, capable warrior and the writing duo of Bennett and Trujillo don’t pull back from that characterization at all. In fact, most of the issue is spent presenting Sheena in full-on jungle defender mode against a new set of invaders in her space. Bennett and Trujillo fill the book with plenty of inner-monologue on the part of Sheena to bring readers up to speed, but there’s still a sense of familiarity in the narrative itself.

The artwork by Moritat and Macheras is pretty beautiful, especially when it comes to rendering Sheena. Both artists illustrate her in a way that emphasizes her athleticism and elegance when swinging through the jungle and fighting off the interlopers. The jungle itself is illustrated with a lushness throughout that further accentuates Sheena’s sleek physique. There’s a harshness to the lines by Moritat and Macheras lends itself well to the harshness of the jungle itself. And the colors by Moritat and Silver are vibrant, reflecting lush greens of the foliage and a stark yellow of Sheena’s garb.

Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #1 is a great way to get reacquainted with a familiar character. Sheena is faced with a situation that isn’t too far off from past situations she’s faced and she’s still up to the task. Bennett and Trujillo have crafted a story that shows the reader who Sheena is at her core: a fierce defender of the jungle she calls home. The artwork by Moritat and Macheras is rendered with thick lines that give the characters more weight. Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #1 is a strong return to a character with a long, rich history.

Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #1 is available now.

Samurai Slasher: Late Fees

Loss is something that’s inevitable for everyone in this world. The way we react to loss varies wildly from one person to the next and it’s likely that few respond in a way the main character does in Samurai Slasher: Late Fees. The issue is written by Mike Garley, illustrated by Lukasz Kowalczuk, and colored/lettered by Lukasz Mazur.

A mythical Samurai warrior goes on a killer rampage. Based on the 80s slasher film that never was…

The way Garley starts Samurai Slasher: Late Fees is seemingly innocuous enough. As the story unfolds though it becomes immediately apparent that Garley is infusing the book with a much more personal take on things. There’s a deeper message within that speaks to loss and Garley illustrates tumultuous roller coaster beautifully by making those emotions tangible opponents to combat. By manifesting life’s obstacles as monsters, Garley is able to make the main character a hero in a way that resonated with his relationship with his father. And the issue is very clean in its arc, wrapping things up elegantly by the end of the issue that speaks to the emotion of loss.

The art style of Kowalczuk is definitely gritty and coarse yet seemingly appropriate for the context of the tale. His linework is shaky at times, effectively rendering the illustrations as the images that run through a child’s mind as they’re living life as a child. The characters don’t inhabit a formal plane; rather, they’re floating somewhat ambiguously through the book in a way that a child’s imagination careens from one scenario to the next. Kowalczuk has an eye for the exotic in the sense that the monsters are truly terrifying and original in their appearance. Mazur’s colors are vibrant, popping off every page and further giving the book a dreamlike feel.

There’s a stunningly brutal honesty in Samurai Slasher: Late Fees that reflects a harsh reality. The thing about the book is that what exactly is reality is left fairly ambiguous for the duration of the issue. Garley has done a remarkable job of couching a deep, personal experience in a seemingly superfluous movie shared with a loved one. Kowalczuk’s artwork is a great fit for the story because it taps into an imagination that leaves most of us as we get older. Samurai Slasher: Late Fees is a remarkably touching comic that will resonate with a lot of readers in a way they probably didn’t expect.

Samurai Slasher: Late Fees is available now.

P.i.S. Paranormal Investigators Showdown #1

The paranormal is all around us. The problem is that most people aren’t equipped to deal with or even observe it. Situations where the paranormal become normal require the services of an outfit such as P.i.S. Paranormal Investigators Showdown #1. The issue is written and lettered by Guido Martinez, penciled by Wilson Palacio, inked by Scott Forster, and colored by Christopher Denney.

Phil Shallowhall and his partner Marty run a rather successful paranormal P.I. business, with Phil possessing astral powers and capacities and Marty acting as the muscle. However, even in such a small market, there is competition. Sofia Yanoni also runs a paranormal P.I. business. As they cross paths, they are bound to get on each other’s nerves, just as any former couple would. Get ready to dive into a world of paranormal mystery, action, comedy, romance, and the drama the latter implies.

Martinez opens up P.i.S. Paranormal Investigators Showdown #1 with a focus on the relationships that will define the series more than the paranormal aspect of things. Phil and Sofia are rivals of sorts, but Martinez adds in another layer to their dynamic by making them former spouses that ignites things even further. In an effort to convey this to the reader, Martinez puts a lot of dialogue into the book that feels a little overwhelming at times. There are some points where the dialogue feels a little dense, but Martinez does his best to keep things on track for the plot to unfold. The premise of the story itself is taken to a more interesting level because of the dynamic between the two main characters.

Palacio’s pencils feel like an appropriate style for the book, although there are some instances where it feels a little askew. For instance, there are a couple of profile shots where the anatomy comes across as slightly off-kilter, as if the faces weren’t drawn in a way that’s anatomically natural. Aside from that though, Palacio does a good job with clean lines throughout that give the book a look that feels like a hybrid between a cartoon and a comic. Forster’s inks amplify the linework by giving the lines heft. Denney’s colors are darker, yet still capable of giving the book a sense of surrealism that reminds the reader they’re dealing with the supernatural.

P.i.S. Paranormal Investigators Showdown #1 is treading familiar water, but the character interactions are what’s going to make the book stand out. Phil and Sofia are every bit as capable as one another in their field, but when they cross paths their personal lives will spill over. The script by Martinez is pretty dense in its attempts to prepare the reader for the series to come. Palacio’s pencils are largely solid in their approach, buoyed further by Forster’s inks. P.i.S. Paranormal Investigators Showdown #1 is a fun first issue that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has some great ambitions.

P.i.S. Paranormal Investigators Showdown #1 is available now.

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