Barbarella stumbles upon a murder scene and a presumptuous post-mortem client. Dejah Thoris finds an impossible artifact in the sands of Barsoom. Together, they’ll have to solve a mystery that seems to span thousands of years…if they can stop annoying each other long enough to do it!
As in the case of Dynamite’s Vampirella Vs. Reanimator, so many of these crossover books tend to spend an exorbitant amount of time drawing their unrelated characters together before the story proper can begin. However, I was delighted to see Barbarella/Dejah Thoris wasting absolutely no time in uniting our titular adventurers and setting them against a common problem. There isn’t even the prerequisite “fight before teaming up” that we see in so many of these types of stories.
In stark contrast to the dialogue in Dynamite’s previous Barbarella ongoing series and recent special, which I personally found to be occasionally rather stiff, the characters are delightfully glib in this issue. The dialogue is playful, with Dejah and her cohorts trading barbs over their scientific discoveries and Barbarella just completely being over always stepping (literally) right into trouble! It establishes a fun tone right off the bat.
Aside from Gail Simone’s (completely rad) Swords of Sorrow miniseries, which brought together many of Dynamite’s female warriors in an epic crossover, I haven’t read any of their other Dejah Thoris comics. Luckily, I’m generally familiar with the character from the original novels and the (in my opinion) underrated John Carter film adaptation. So far, I’m a big fan of this take. She’s high-spirited, trying to raise the morale of her fellow scientists. She’s a risk-taker, the kind of woman who sees a magic mirror buried in the desert and hops right in to see where it leads. This portrayal is very much in line with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original novels and has me curious to check out Dynamite’s other series featuring the Princess of Mars.
Germán García’s artwork is well-suited to the story. In particular, the expressive faces of the characters give us some great insight into their personalities. Barbarella is flirtatious and delighted by the chance to flex her detective skills. Her coy smile and relaxed body language is what helps put Dejah at ease after her unexpected transportation. Dejah is regal, but kind. She carries herself as royalty should, but the illustrations make a point of showing us that she never looks down on anyone. The alien worlds are impressively rendered and the wild aquatic setting of the final pages has me excited to see what García has cooked up for the next issue.
On top of the lovely artwork, Addison Duke’s colors make every page pop. From the technological psychedelia of Barbarella’s time to the umber-soaked deserts of Mars, every setting has its own unique palette. It’s a great-looking book.
The one drawback to the dialogue is that it occasionally gets a little too ornate, relying on a lot of wordplay and run-on sentences. This is a double-edged sword, in that it illustrates Barbarella’s penchant for getting overly excited and rambling, but it can also occasionally be a bit unwieldy to read. That’s a small complaint, though. The jokes work and Barbarella honestly hasn’t been this endearing since the original comics and film. She’s the perfect mixture of naïve yet worldly, just the right counterbalance to the self-assured and occasionally caustic Dejah Thoris. I would subscribe to a Barbarella ongoing series written by Leah Williams in a heartbeat.
I’m happy to say that everything about this issue defied my expectations! It’s easily the most enjoyment I’ve gotten from one of Dynamite’s crossover titles in quite some time. Even for folks unfamiliar with the title characters, I’d recommend giving it a shot.