Is anyone else not instantly reminded of this children’s magazine? I mean: Ranger Rick, Jungle Jim. They sound almost identical to me! Well, hopefully this isn’t a story about a geo-caching, talking, nature-conserving raccoon. And even if it is, I’ll still ask: is it good?
King: Jungle Jim #1 (Dynamite Publishing)
Wow, nice triceps Chuck Norr…I mean Jungle Jim!
If you ask me, a comic has but one real obligation to its reader. A comic is obligated to keep its reader entertained. If I’m not eager to turn the page, you’re not doing a very good job making a comic. Now, I don’t want to seem like some uncultured slob who couldn’t care less about any of the nuances of great comics and who just wants a comic that will keep him reading for 15 minutes. I do care about the technical stuff, I just think that enjoying a comic is a lot less complicated then we make it. A comic doesn’t have to be dark and gritty, or some totally wacky new concept. It just has to be engaging, and if it needs to be dark and gritty to be engaging, then that’s great, as long as I am still actively wanting to turn the page.
Now let’s put that in the context of Jungle Jim. Technically, there are a few things to Jungle Jim that I would change. For starters, some of its aspects seem a bit cliche. A pretty standard line of “I drink to forget!” and a very black and white conflict make the comic feel a tad trite and at times made me think I had already read the comic. Just because it isn’t wholly new territory or it comes across as a little corny at times does not make it a bad comic, however. When I look back at Jungle Jim #1 technically, I’m not thrilled, sure. But when I look back at Jungle Jim as an experience, I really enjoyed the comic.
The experience of Jungle Jim is just what a comic should be: it’s entertaining. The characters are very strong and are easy to read about. The protagonists are generally extremely likable, even if they are reminiscent of countless similar characters in other stories. I love how the different personalities mesh and how the characters develop as individuals and how they affect each other. And I’m not saying that as a critic, I’m saying that as a reader. One of the main characters, Kugor, a beast with a heart of gold, is very winning. He’s tough but also tender and shares a dynamic with another similarly tough but more naive character. After reading the first issue, I genuinely want to see what happens to Kugor, which is something I can’t say about too many supporting characters in comics.
Also, there’s plenty of meaningful conflict to satisfy any reader. The mystery of Jungle Jim himself is captivating and I feel as though author Paul Tobin has created drama that will be very satisfying when resolved. Again, Tobin isn’t astonishing anyone with the novelty or originality of this mystery, but he certainly is crafting a compelling story, which is good enough for me.
Is It Good?
Jungle Jim #1 is a good experience despite a few fixes that could be made to make it seem a little more novel. The artwork strangely reminds me of James Cameron’s Avatar in its picturesque landscapes and washy colors. It’s captivating art to match a fittingly captivating story.