Remember that Barb Wire comic? or that movie from the 90s starring Pamela Anderson? Me neither. in any rate, Barb Wire is back to kick the ass of that one minor character. In the hardcore, scumbag-ridden town of Steel Harbor, USA (probably Florida). The toughest criminals gather around to celebrate and revel in debauchery. Not anymore now that club owner/bounty hunter Barb Wire is in town to catch ‘em all. Her reputation earns respect all the way up to the top bosses in gangs and syndicates. You don’t wanna get on her bad side? Don’t get a bounty on you, and do not call her the “B” word (not the one you think).
The main cover intrigued me from the moment I saw it in Comic Shop News (free at your LCS). It features Barb Wire in a skimpy ass-kicking leather with a gun in the front and a guitar in the back, while resting a used up (mostly on faces) baseball bat on her shoulder. Being a huge fan of pulp, crazy, needless action driven comics, and an undying love for DC’s original Bastich Lobo, I thought this title would be right up my alley. Unfortunately it wasn’t. I like Patrick Ollife’s art a good deal, I enjoyed his pencils in Ms. Marvel and I’ve heard praise for his run on Catwoman, but this just felt too clean for me. It wasn’t the Steel Harbor I was painted when picking up the comic. It seemed more like a discount Madripoor. The action hits you by page three, after an exposition dump that seems completely unnecessary since it’s never mentioned again, I’m sure Chris Warner is probably playing the long story but in this instance it already had me turning to see if things would get interesting soon, which is bad for a comic I just opened. Once I’m introduced to Barb, accompanied by her partners, who look like Dog the Bounty Hunter rejects, that is when the ass kicking beings. Although with a good flow, everything seems too well-defined and neat, which went against the tone of the comic.
And that’s that. That’s all the ass kicking Barb gets to do in the whole issue. The rest of the pages is a parade of characters being shown in order to raise the stakes for our main girl, yet she is unable to do anything about any of the problems or take any proactive action towards bettering them. She continues to react and get tossed around (literally) from one situation to the other. The other characters we’re introduced to, like two cartoonishly different crime bosses, and a beast of a new antagonist, would actually work fairly well had they used a different artist on this book, again, nothing against Olliffe, but put some Simon Bisley-eske art in this book, and Dark Horse has a true ass-kicking, unapologetic title on their hands. It would make that much of a difference.
Barb Wire was the promise of the triumphant return an old, almost forgotten character rampaging into the shelves. Instead it was a mismatched, misdirected title with a protagonist who fits the literal definition of passive aggressive. If you are feeling compelled to pick up this title, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of Mercy Sparx by Devil’s Due Entertainment. Much more ass-kicking plus hellish anger.