Another part of King Dynamite’s shared universe (I’m coining the term “Pulpy-verse”, feel free to use that Dynamite) is Jungle Jim. I think it’s important to give these characters context so that you can try to really understand them because their history is a significant part of who they are and why we should care. Flash Gordon and The Phantom being as popular as they are don’t need a ton of context, but, man, Jungle Jim is reaching. There was a time when Jungle Jim was huge, unfortunately that time seemed to end around 1956 with “Devil Goddess”, the last in a 12 feature series (there was a comic series that petered out in 1970 but, despite the major talent that worked on it, I’m not counting it here). This is important because Jungle Jim himself was played by Johnny Weismuller. That guy was a huge deal back in the 50’s. Besides being a 5 time Olympic gold medalist he was THE definitive Tarzan. You know that yell? You know the yell. It’s THE yell you instinctively do whenever you swing on something. THAT yell. Yeah, that was Johnny Weismuller. Getting him to play your Jungle Jim was like getting Robert Downy Jr. to play your Sherlock Holmes. If RDJ had won 5 flipping gold medals.
So, at one point, Jungle Jim was the Iron Man of his time. That was how big that character was. That time has long since passed so nobody can be blamed for not knowing who he is now but he WAS really important. All that being said did they deliver something pretty solid but slightly flawed like Flash Gordon or something limp and lifeless like The Phantom?
I’m happy to say that this is definitely more Flash Gordon than Phantom. We have a really solid premise that looks like they’re going to take their time developing, which was my one gripe with Flash Gordon. The premise is a women wants to break her brother out of jail. Simple, a lot of potential there. She has some kind of mysterious trait that they hint at without giving too much away, the exposition happens through natural feeling dialogue rather than just text bubble after text bubble and the action scenes are good without showing too much. You really get a feel for Jungle Jim’s power without them just going off like a fireworks display leaving you with nothing more to see. Most importantly the story is well paced and takes it’s time. Our protagonist doesn’t meet the titular Jungle Jim until the last panel. Which is great! My personal preference is if you aren’t going to tell the story through the super powered titular character then push it off, build some tension, make that payoff work for you. So now we’ve got this solid premise grounding the book and a decent cliffhanger to draw us to the next issue.
To let you in on a little secret about my personal review style, if I really like something I don’t ruin it. I don’t like to spoil things I like because I want you to read/watch/play the thing too and there’s no reason too if I just do a page by page synopsis. I’d rather address the broad strokes to show you what I think it does right. If something is middling or bad then I’m going to spoil it so you can get the story without having to waste your time unless you see something you really like in the spoiling. Jungle Jim is good, might be the best Pulpy-verse book I’ve read yet. The name is bad, it’s just bad, it is a bad pun. They at least try to alleviate that by giving him a native name that sounds mysterious and interesting so maybe they’ll try to use that in-book and just keep the name for the cover. But if you can get past the name then check it out.
Writer: Paul Tobin Artist: Sandy Jarrell Colorist: Sandy Jarrell Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/4/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital