Jungle Jim #4 ends our first arc and leave me just as befuddled as I was when I started the series. I thought the first issue was a pretty cracker jack intro into the world and people of Jungle Jim and then I just kind of floated along that Pulpy-verse wave pushed on the hype of every subsequent book. My last review was a bit muddled. I did, in fact, like the issue but I just could really get to why and when I tried to dissect that ‘why’ I ended up realizing that I couldn’t give it a passing score and I ended up giving it a 2. For some reason I still can’t define what it is I like about Jungle Jim. The main characters is a mix between Dudley Moore’s Arthur and Tom Bombadil in the way he drinks and dances his way into, through and out of battle. He’s not a terribly likable character nor is he a terribly deep character but I do find him interesting despite, or maybe because, of his flaws.
Issues 3 and 4 mostly contain fight scenes as we scream towards our conclusion at a 100 miles per hour… Fahrenheit. That’s how fast this plot is going, it’s going so fast that it can only be measure by speed AND temperature! Simultaneously! The story just flies by giving us the most needed of information. Jungle Jim and company are freeing slaves in the name of our female protagonist’s brother to try to get Ming to have said brother executed on their planet. They need to do this because of the botched ship theft in issue 2. Our female protagonist needs her brother’s DNA to stop herself from turning into a snake lady because if she does she’ll die. She ends up going snake lady any way and ends up being fine. The fight itself is mostly mindless action with a bit of dues ex machine thrown in for the victory and then a cut-away avoiding any nasty, complicated denouement as we end our journey.
Jungle Jim shows up to the final battle drunk and provides little to no help. Instead of using this in an interesting way he instead uses his drunkenness, because the whole jungle is drunk as a result, to start a fire and explosions. We don’t really see how these fire and explosions help but since everything is fine in the cut-away it must have worked out. It kind of ends the arc on a sad trombone sound with nowhere to go. I think it would have been more interesting if Jungle Jim showed up drunk, the mission fails, the Rhino Guy is the only survivor and Jim sinks back into the jungle. Rhino Guy tries to find Jim to get some kind of explanation, Jim reveals he can’t handle pressure like that and sabotaged himself and therefore the mission and deeply regrets who he is and what he’s done before going on to try to redeem himself in the name of the dead snake lady protagonist. He could go on being the drunken party boy frat boy party boy but we’d get a little look under the mask. There could have been a whole arc of Rhino Guy looking for Jim and seeing signs of his drunkenness, anger and sadness before finally finding him and having their heart to heart. The whole time Rhino Guy not knowing if he’s going to kill Jim when he finds him.
As it is Jungle Jim is a fun bit of pulp nonsense but there wasn’t a whole lot beneath the surface this time around. Maybe the next arc will bring something else. I still just don’t know how to feel about it. It’s not funny or light-hearted like my favorite comedy books (Howard the Duck and Squirrel Girl) but it’s not dark enough or deep enough to engage me on a more intellectual or emotional level (like Postal or Imperium). It’s in this confused middle ground where I don’t know how to feel about it and I don’t know how to relate to it. It’s good, it’s okay even, but, for me, it’s not much more than that.