Friday, March 21, 2014


Writer & Artist: Frank Cho | Colors: Dave Stewart & Jason Keith
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Rob Steen
Assistant Editor: Cory Sedlmeier | Editor: Axel Alonso
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada | Publisher: Dan Buckley

I have to say, nudity protest aside, I think I'm glad I've never bothered to buy a collected edition of this story. For that matter, I'm even happier I never spent the three or four dollars it would've cost per issue when it was first being released. It's just not that good.

But before I get to my criticism, I'll provide a quick summary: A military unit has crashed on an island inhabited by dinosaurs and an old Nazi lab. In the lab, they discover a nubile young woman, a clone developed by the Nazis to be a perfect killing machine, who they name Shanna (after a comic book character). Some of the soldiers are infected by a chemical weapon created by the Nazis, and Shanna, along with the soldiers' leader, "Doc", must travel to the Nazi lab to recover the antidote. They do so and return to camp.

That's it.

This story is seven issues long, I remind you. The above synopsis is barely enough to fill a single issue of almost any comic from the Silver or Bronze Ages. I read the whole thing in less than an hour. That's about 8.5 minutes per issue, which is unacceptable. Decompression like this is a huge part of the reason I became so disenchanted with Marvel years ago.

Don't get me wrong -- the artwork is tremendous. Cho draws two of his favorite subjects here -- dinosaurs and a buxom woman. And knowing him primarily as a pin-up artist, I was surprised to find that he's an impressive storyteller as well. The colors are quite beautiful too, especially when Jason Keith takes over. And you can never go wrong with lettering by Comicraft. Why Marvel dropped them as their primary letterer I will never understand.

But pretty pictures and great colors and letters are not nearly enough to save a paper-thin plot (if I could think of something thinner than paper, I would substitute that in my analagy instead). This might as well just be an art book. The story is practically nonexistent. We get a tiny bit of character development froM Shanna, who starts out as a remorseless killer but eventually learns to care for her fellow man, but that's the excent of any sort of satisfying arc here. And even calling this

Who are these soldiers? What power do they work for? How did they crash on the island? Why are there dinosaurs on the island? We at least get an explanation for the Nazi lab, from Dr. Elsa, the lone survivor the soldiers find alive in the first issue (for those who care, the scientists no longer considered themselves Nazis -- they were just working on science for science's sake at this point).

By the story's end, we don't even have any inkling how the group will get off the island. Everyone is happy to be alive following their trevails with the chemical weapon and then a raptor attack -- but nobody seems particularly concerned about escape. And the story just sort of... ends.

But maybe I just went into this thing with the wrong expectations. I'd seen bits and pieces of artwork floating around for years, but none of it told me quite how serious this story is. I assumed it would be a light-hearted romp with a half-naked jungle girl beating up on dinosaurs. It turns out it's a pretty dark story with lots of bloody gore. There are a few mildly funny moments (seconds, really), but they're few and far between. Not at all what I had expected for all these years.

Perhaps the Palmiott/Gray sequel will be better. I guess we'll find out next week. But, except for the artwork, SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL is quite a disappointment as a story.

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