Thrown through space and time and trapped in an underwater dome with a quickly depleting oxygen supply, Barbarella and Dejah Thoris need to learn to trust one another’s instincts and figure out why they’ve been transported to this alien world!
Right from the first page, Leah Williams’ script shines in her take on the two lead characters. Dejah’s pride is admirable, but so is Barbarella’s empathy. Dejah is a hardass, while Barbarella is cool as a cucumber. Not only does it read like the best possible buddy action story, it proves right from the jump that the strong characterizations from the first issue will be carrying us through the rest of this miniseries and it makes the characters a joy to read.
While the majority this issue is less action-oriented and consists mostly of dialogue and wordplay, it’s still a lot of fun seeing our two heroines converse with one another. As with the first issue, the dialogue in this book is dense, really doubling down when it comes to the creatures that Barbarella and Dejah meet in the second half of the issue.
It takes a minute to catch the rhythm and meanings of the undersea species’ manner of speech, but once you’re locked in, it’s oddly beautiful. There is the odd word balloon here and there that may require you to give it a quick re-read, however, but this doesn’t really detract from the story.
The bulk of this issue concerns Barbarella and Dejah attempting to escape from the room they’re in, with each of them getting a chance to play hero. Barbarella shows off her brilliance in deciphering clues left behind by the scientist who transported them across space, including a fun techo-babble sequence where she creates “oxygen from scratch.” Dejah, despite her immense discomfort brought on by being surrounded by water, still gets to play the bad cop of the two, posturing with her sword and letting their would-be captors that she means business. This is where the hearts of both characters really shine.
As a monarch, Dejah is used to concealing her anxieties and soldiering on in the face of impossible odds. Barbarella recognizes this and, in a lovely sequence, lets Dejah know that it’s okay and understandable to be scared. Not only that, she tells her in a way that doesn’t come across as an attack on Dejah’s pride. It’s a lovely understanding of both characters that makes me wish this run was longer than a miniseries.
As much as I adored the dialogue in this issue, my main gripe is that there’s not a ton of forward momentum to this issue. There’s some great character work going on here, but it does feel like that forces the last third of the book to be a big block of exposition. Many miniseries fall into a trap where they find themselves with less real estate available to tell a big story, while still finding room for character development and small moments. This issue doesn’t quite fall into that trap, but it does feel like a slight stumble toward the last chunk of the book.
Still, this was another solid issue. I cannot stress enough that Leah Williams’ Barbarella is maybe my favorite version of the character ever and this strong portrayal of Dejah Thoris is both true to the source material and modernized in all the right ways. I’m looking forward to seeing how the coolest gals in space fight their way out of this one!