Matt Johnson

Jungle Girl: Season 3 – Comic Review

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Jungle Girl – Season 3 is a gratuitous adventure story that tries to fashion itself in the vein of the old 60’s and 70’s humans and dinosaurs genre – but with a modern twist.

JungleGirlS3TPCOVER

Title: Jungle Girl: Season 3
 Writer: Frank Cho & Doug Murray
 Artist: Jack Jadson
 Cover Artist: Frank Cho
 Publisher: DYNAMITE
 Release Date: January 27 2016

Jungle Girl: Season 3 tries, and fails, to evoke a sense of excitement and adventure similar to Caveman, One Million Years BC, or When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.  It adds in a more “serious” feel and plotline but ultimately delivers 80-something pages of dear-god-why-am-I-still-reading-this.

The story begins with our scantily-clad heroine Jana giving a brief backstory and catching us up to where previous issues have left us.  Except, in some panels she is inexplicably wearing a full vacuum-tight shiny black outfit.  At the start of the story she speaks in a subtly simplified manner, to imply her jungle roots.  This sort of disappears at some point.  Some action filled dinosaur killing ensues and we meet Jana’s group of cohorts, generic male hero 1 and generic male hero 2, who is also a hologram, and who also looks identical to hero 1 but with a different shade of hair.  There are also a group of primitive looking tribes-people.  As conflict ensues we learn that Jana likes to stick her ass out.  A lot.  Like, a lot a lot.  She seems unfazed by the massive dinos and oversized tribal leaders that keep impeding her journey, dispatching them with little to no effort.  We learn that some alien-things have been trying to do what alien-things tend to want to do in comics, and only our intrepid heroes can stop them which, oh man SPOILER, they easily do.  The art is super “clean”, like in the late 90’s when computers first started being heavily used in comic art.  You know what I mean – Everything is shiny and lights are blown out, but it all ends up kind of flat and bland anyway.  It’s not awful, and it gets the idea of the story across well enough but it’s never anything other than sufficient (think early Gen 13 cover art).  The panels are all framed to get the story told, but not incredibly well, and there wasn’t ever a point where I really felt drawn in or like there was anything exceptional to be seen.  That may be different if I was still 13.  Who knows.

I live and breathe for grindhouse/exploitation stuff.  Jean Rollin is one of my favorite directors.  I’ve made an exploitation-style film.  I’ve considered making another.  I’ve seen and appreciated many of Russ Meyer’s movies.  So believe me when I say I get the appeal of creating a series based on vapid, stereotypical, bodice-ripping characters.  I really do.  That said, I think a lot of the appeal of the genre is the charm of the way it was done, the “why” it was done, and the lost era it comes from.  They were fun, often tongue-in-cheek, totally inappropriate in retrospect but ok given the circumstances, and they existed to fill a certain void.  Jungle Girl doesn’t have any of those qualities.  Rather, it feels like it was created solely as a template for the authors and artist to cram as many images as they could of our heroine with broken spine, ass-out, giant chest pushed to the limits of gravity, and of simian-looking natives (is that still an acceptable thing in 2016?).  Oh, and the occasional alien or dinosaur just for funsies.

Jungle Girl also misses hard on some major fundamentals of storytelling, namely, characters you feel anything about/for, and a story that contains actual conflict.  Sure, there are characters you’re supposed to like, root for, hate, etc, but I never once found myself doing so.  Sure, there’s conflict galore in terms of creatures thrown at our main characters, but there’s never the remotest sense that any of the baddies either can’t be slain absurdly easily by the Jungle Girl or that, if they can’t be, it’s only because she needs one of her male counterparts to gallantly rescue her.

Back to the exploitation thing.  Again, I fully understand what the authors wanted to accomplish here, and it probably could have been a lot of fun if it was well executed.  The problem is it wasn’t and, as such, ends up being a rather pointless, joyless, and even painful read.

This is where I’d normally recommend some alternate titles.  Honestly, go to your local comic shop, close your eyes, and grab whatever you stumble into.  You’ll be better off unless you have the misfortune of stumbling into Jungle Girl.

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