Comics: Barbarella #5 - Reviewed




Created by Jean-Claude Forest and first premiering in the French V Magazine in 1962, Barbarella was one of the first adult or pornographic comic books. The character Barbarella would have various sci-fi space adventures that would eventually involve some type of sexual act. Dino De Laurentiis purchased the film rights to the comic and Barbarella was released in 1968, directed by Roger Vadim and starring Jane Fonda. While it was generally praised for its strong visual style and cinematography, most agreed that the story was very week.It is now considered a cult classic. Many attempts and adaptations have failed, up until the new Barbarella series from Dynamite Entertainment.

Issue 5 starts a new story arc in the series, as we find Barbarella having her ship repaired at an orbital workshop on the shipyards of Falladim. The location is abnormally busy because scores of ships are heading out to Van Neumann's World where R.U.S.T has been discovered, which is ectremely valuable. R.U.S.T. stands for Radically Unstable Space Time and is a type of supra-dimensional plasma that in a properly contained state is used to halt and reverse temporal flow or to create dimensional frames that can manipulate time. Barbarella is visited by a spirit who tells her that she needs to go to Van Neumann's World to find something that is very important, but doesn't allude to what. Upon arriving on the planet she encounters some trouble in the form of a villainous prospecting family and meets up with a mathematician who is researching the very thing she may be looking for. The issue ends on a cliffhanger that puts Barbarella and the mathematician in potential danger.

Mike Carey is once gain the writer for this issue and pieced together a plot that takes the whole California gold rush theme and throws it into a futuristic setting, which works asides from being fairly formulaic. Barbarella's sexuality is not a factor in this like it was in the previous issues, though it is pretty obvious that it will have some play in the next part of this arc.

Jorge Forn├ęs was the artist on the previous one-off story and has now been replaced by Kenan Yar, who had worked on the first three issues. I have to be honest, I did not realize that Yar was the artist that worked on Issue 5. I had to double check because it looks vastly different from his prior work. His artwork from issues 1-3 were complimentary to the '70s era tone of the character and story and while it is still reminiscent of the style, it doesn't have as much interesting details and nice line work that it did before. Perhaps it was rushed or it was necessary for this specific story, but it just doesn't look as good. 

Barbarella #5 felt like a step in the wrong direction. While it still may appeal to fans of the sci-fi genre, it felt rather bland and generic. The story did not appeal to me as much and the art seemed rushed. Hopefully they can pull it back together in the next issue.

-RV