Comics: Barbarella #4 - Reviewed

Barbarella continues her space adventures

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 4 starts a new story after finishing up a three issue arc in the series, as we find Barbarella on a cargo freighter having her ship taken to an orbital workshop for repair. The cargo ship is also towing a group of five planets bound for the Jangfan system, products that were engineered by the company Fertile Acres Corporate Entity. Overseeing the planet transport is a Narpisi, from an empathic race. Obviously, something goes wrong with the zero gravity field during the transport and Barbarella must help fix it and discover who the saboteurs are. 

Mike Carey is once gain the writer for this issue and has crafted a rather solid science fiction story that blends the typical sci-fi genre aspects with timely issues of big companies and corporate greed. Barbarella's sexuality comes into play more in this story than in the previous ones, and is a major component in saving herself and the lives of everyone on board the vessel. Issue 4 is essentially a one-off story that could eventually lead to something more in the forthcoming issues.

Jorge Forn├ęs is the new artist in this issue, taking over for Kenan Yar. Yar's artwork was so complimentary to the '70s era tone of the character and story that it's a shame to see him go. Gone is the fine line work and dynamic action scenes that were reminiscent of the classic Heavy Metal magazines from the '70s, in place of a more graphic art style with thick black lines around the characters. The colors also add to the overall graphic look of the book. There is nothing inherently wrong with this particular style, as I'm sure it appeals to many readers, but it isn't necessarily my personal taste.

Despite the change in artists, Barbarella #4 was still an enjoyable sci-fi read. Her traditional backstory and increased exploration of sex in this issue will likely not appeal to potential female readers, regardless of the fact that she's a strong female character.