Rating: 4.5/5 – The Original Jungle Girl Gets Her Due in a Great HC.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
I’m a sketch-hound. I take a thick book full of empty pages to every convention, with the intention to get artists both known and yet-to-be-known to fill it full of renderings based around an annual theme. One year, for example, I had every artist give me their version of Marvel’s popular assassin, Elektra. Another year, it was DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes characters. This year, however, I gave them something they could really sink their teeth into – Jungle Girls. I make no bones about it, I love the image of a savage beauty in what amounts to a fur swimsuit swinging into certain danger. I’ve had this obsession since I was a boy on the cusp of puberty and caught former Charlie’s Angel Tanya Roberts taking on the role of perhaps the most well-known jungle goddess – Sheena, the Queen of the Jungle.
Small wonder, then, that when I heard that PS Artbooks planned to release a beautiful hardcover collection (under the watchful eye of Roy Thomas) compiling the 18 issues of Sheena’s first comic book run (across three volumes), I scooped it right up. This first volume collects the first four issues of Sheena’s exploits from 1942-1948 (each issue clocks in at a hefty 60+ pages), and it does so with an eye toward creating a book any comic historian would be proud to have on their shelves. It’s available in a regular “bookshop edition” HC (available for $35 at sites like InStockTrades) and a much more expensive slipcase edition limited to 125 copies worldwide. When you line up the 3 slipcases, the spines will combine to create an image of Sheena!
A brief introduction sets the stage for anyone unfamiliar with the titular heroine, talking about her creators and appearances in numerous titles, and also includes a brief nod to her appearances in film by such notables as Irish McCalla, the aforementioned Ms. Roberts, and on television in a series starring Gena Lee Nolin. Still, Sheena’s appearances in comics are what purchasers of this book no doubt want to experience, so little time is wasted getting to the meat of the matter. The jungle queen’s exploits are faithfully reproduced with amazing clarity given the number of decades since these stories first saw print. If you’ve been hoping to get a solid reproduction of these early issues, let this be your book.
Sadly, it would have been nice if the proofreaders at PS Artbooks had been doing their job, as one table of contents lists the story “How Sheena and Boob Came to the Jungle” (it’s supposed to be Bob, referencing Sheena’s male companion in most of her stories). Some might overlook such a blunder, while others might laugh it off as a Freudian slip. If this were a less expensive trade I might let it slide without mentioning, but these tomes are simply too pricey to allow something like that to go unremarked. If you’re shelling out the money for a Porsche, you’re not going to be happy if it comes with a scratch, no matter how small, that you didn’t put there yourself. In this case, lax editing kept this book from getting a 5 out of 5 rating.
I’ve seen these tales reprinted before in different collections, but the production value on this book gives the colors a greater brilliance, which is a pretty significant accomplishment if you’re familiar with the limitations of color printing back when Sheena’s books were originally created. The stories, as you might expect, are the great two-fisted tales of action and adventure so common to the era and the genre. It’s both an entertaining read as well as a fun history lesson. Roy Thomas Presents Sheena, Queen of the Jungle Volume 1 is a must own and a must read if you’ve got any love for the genre of jungle heroine adventure.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow – firstname.lastname@example.org
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