By Justin McCarty
I picked up Barbarella because of the cover alone. Wow. Just wanted to get that out of the way. I am familiar with the Barbarella comics, and the movie. But I have never read Barbarella before or watched the movie. I don’t know why I haven’t seen the movie. Just never got around to it, I guess. That means I don’t have any reference point for what this comic should be. What it is, is a campy sci-fi social commentary on sexual empowerment and ignorant religious dogma.
Barbarella crosses paths with the Parosians, who are in a holy war with the Terrans. They intercept Barbarella who stumbles into the fight due to a broken ship part. They at first think she is a spy, but they eventually decide she’s a smuggler. What is she smuggling? A vagina. Her vagina. It is illegal, according to Parosians, for anyone to have genitals. So they remove them. If you are caught with the naughty bits, they’ll be removed and you’ll be jailed. Barbarella gets herself imprisoned, but knows all this is very wrong and vows retribution. She meets another inmate who educates her on her situation, and Barbarella immediately finds her in the middle of a plan to escape. But not before she initiates some much needed sexual liberation.
The style of art in this book seems very close to what I’ve seen of the original French comics. And it has a lot of charm to it. I feel a Mobius vibe here. But that might just be me. This definitely feels like a French comic. A good thing. The style marries well with the subject matter and tone. I didn’t immediately identify with the empowerment theme, I am a cisgender male after-all, but I know this comic is going to be just what a lot of people were looking for. The story is pretty fun and layered with a lot of cheeky dialogue. The story’s ironic messages come right through and a pretty fun to pick out. I tend to have fun looking for the social commentary in sci-fi comics. I don’t know what tone the other versions have taken, but this does a pretty good job of getting its message across while still being sexy and fun.
Barbarella is about sexual empowerment, the Perosians remove that power. Barbarella does an interesting thing in that she shows the other inmates you don’t need a particular sex organ to have intimacy. She wisely points out desire and love are an internal thing, the body is only ancillary. Regardless of how you are physically oppressed, the soul and mind remain free to desire. Barbarella has a poignant message for our current cultural shifts.
I probably read more Dynamite comics than any others. Despite calling myself a DC guy. But if you want superheroes of the non-big-two variety, then Dynamite is going to have most of them. I keep coming back to Dynamite because they keep giving me cool characters that I can follow without getting stuck in a multiverse loop. I follow a couple of Dynamite’s comics right now, James Bond and Shadow, and I almost always pick up anything new they put out, it’s not always a hit for me, but I will check it out. I’m glad I checked out Barbarella and I’m in for issue two.