(cover by Annie Wu)
I've always loved the character Barbarella, so I'm glad to see the first issue of her revival series kick off as well as it did. Unlike the Jane Fonda movie in which she's a futuristic secret agent, the new series keeps Barbarella's roots as an interplanetary wander who just happens into her adventures, and this first chapter finds her ending up in the middle of an outer space religious war.
Barb is captured by the Parosians, a fanatical allegory for the Religious Right, whose advancements in cloning rendered old-fashioned reproduction obsolete, so their tyrannical church deems all forms of sexual pleasure criminal. So it is that Barbarella is interrogated and sentenced to hard labor in a women's prison for smuggling contraband, in other words possessing a fully-functional vagina. (As Barbarella herself matter-of-factly puts it.) As she is processed for imprisonment, Barbarella's rights to her own body are utterly disregarded and she is relegated to mandatory surgery to "erase and overwrite fully developed organs without damaging the surrounding tissue," a procedure usually performed on children. It's unclear as to exactly what was done to her, but it does not appear that the heinous procedure did anything to reduce Barbarella's capabilities, as she and a fellow convict have sex in front of their fellow inmates, in order to make them realize what a load of bullshit the church's sexually repressive policies are and inspire them by sapphic example. Hopefully the exact nature of the surgery will be explained in subsequent chapters, but for now I'm content to know that not even highly-advanced and painless "genetic weave" technology can put Barbarella's free-minded sexual agency in check. (I'm thinking that due to her adult age, the surgery may merely have rendered Barbarella unable to conceive, which would have come in handy for her during her earlier adventures that were crafted in France by her creator. In one of the latter stories, Barbarella becomes involves with a dashing quasi-villain and after much physical fun, she gets pregnant and gives birth to a son.) Anyway, I'll be back next issue to see what happens transpires.
The book is crafted to feel like a European graphic album and it works quite well as such, with the figures looking influenced by the art of Frank Quitely, with the main female faces bearing a Milo Manara-esque aspect. RECOMMENDED.