Shanna the She-Devil: Survival of the Fittest – Graphic Novel
Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Penciler: Khari Evans
Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colorists: Paul Mounts & Christina Strain
Summary: Shanna the She-Devil returns in an all-new, epic adventure jam-packed with jungle action, Hong Kong gangsters, dinosaurs, diamonds and cavemen! Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti return with super-hot artist Khari Evans (Daughters of the Dragon) to bring you the story of modern-day pirates shipwrecked on the Marvel Universe’s deadliest island, where only Shanna can protect them from hordes of man-eating monsters!
Review: Man, I really wish the story had been just as exciting as the summary from the back of the book promised it would be. Instead I found myself groaning and scratching my head at why, why was the book even made?
I may be in the minority figure of guys who like comics as to why I like Shanna, the title character, a big breasted, well-toned She-Tarzan of the jungle and it isn’t for the aforementioned breasts. Like I am so very sure is why anyone else would enjoy her; and in fact that is the only reason anyone in this book enjoys her. But no, myself I see a character that is much underutilized at least in the few stories I have read where is a player on the board and someone who is painted as 2-dimensional and can’t be used as anything else than someone who kills the monsters then gets sex.
I could probably come up with a whole 30 issues series of ideas for Shanna easily, and for some reason Marvel writers cannot seem to think of anything to do with her to further her character or adventures in any way. We could drop her in New York and let her see how to adjust to life there, she could join the Avengers, and you could have her fight the Mole Man or freaking Godzilla and maybe send her into the more mystical side of the MU. There are all sorts of possibilities but no. We have this story. And it’s the most recent Shanna story. So here it is:
Modern-day pirate terrorists are robbing a ship when a Leviathan attacks the ship and brings its babies who look nothing like it into the attack to feast on all the humans. The pirate captain, Dirk, is leading his crew onto the ship of rich people partying to steal some diamonds of unknown but obviously incredibly rich value. And in the course he ends up killing the brother of our villain, Teddy “The Axe-Man” Xiang. When they flee the scene and board land it’s on Monster Island where they are immediately attacked by hordes of raptors. Whereas they are barely able to hold their own with barrels of guns, Shanna appears and wipes all the raptors clean with her single knife. Good job pirates. Dirk and his crew are unapologetic pirates and killers who take none kindly to being stranded on this death trap of an island and Ivan, the crews’ computer tech hates it to and he complains. A lot. Throughout all 4 issues. It gets annoying after the first few pages when they aren’t even on the island yet, and he never ever shuts up. No one on this trip reaches some spiritual awakening or goes through a character arc. If they aren’t running from dinosaurs, they’re running from Xiang and his crew of teens who fly in on a plane to get the diamonds back, and if not running from them they’re running from cavemen who eat all the men but Dirk and Ivan (because they’re the main male characters) and Shanna and Sid (because they’re women). There is an awful lot of running in this story with very little amount of it spent in quite moments where there could be use of some much much needed character development so that by the end when anyone dies we care about it.
Instead even the quiet moments are filled with talking and more talking as if there are no quiet moments allowed in this story. And when Shanna, Dirk and the others finally kill Xiang they get to the plane and Dirk and his friends high tail it out of there. Except we’re not done yet, before they fly off Shanna, who has shown no interest in any of the characters once in this story must grab the big hulking black man lead, Dirk and make-out with him, because she’s a hot girl and why the hell wouldn’t she?
Oh yeah, because all we’ve seen is Dirk play googly eyes at her but she pay no attention to him whatsoever. And He isn’t even the one who saves the day; he only survives because she saves the day because it’s her book. So what makes him so special? Because they shared a daring adventure together and survived? No that can’t be it, she faces this stuff all the time with the island she lives on. It’s Monster Island! No, she does it because she a woman and he is a man and the writers said that’s the only possible ending it could have.
Speaking of the writers for a brief moment, I don’t even know what was going through their heads when writing this. Sterotypes? More than likely as EVERYONE in this story is the voice of a stereotype and even looks the part. Dirk, the black pirate terrorist who is big and bulging muscles who smashes someone face in for “insulting his mother” even though what they say has nothing to do with him or his family. Ivan, the Russian computer tech who hates land and prefers the see and complains about everything constantly and is nothing about a coward. Sid, the butch lesbian with short hair and baggy clothes, who writes an erotic novel in her spare time and has a huge crush on Shanna once she meets her. And Shanna, the big breasted, big assed vapid blonde who doesn’t understand anything about human contact but jumps first chance she gets to kiss the black man even though she hasn’t once looked at him romantically in the whole story.
Yeah, that’s all I got to say about the writers.
And finally the art, by Khari Evans. I like this artist I did find out of all things, the art in this to be pretty great, every time Shanna made her presence known she stole the spotlight and left everyone else in the dusk do to beautifully placed shots of her stabbing and kicking dinosaurs in the face and the island felt like it could be something of a giant place that was big enough to inhabit hundreds of different dinosaurs and monsters. Evans was really able to capture the feel for this book. Even though there was when they entered “Hitler’s Lost City of Gold” I found myself wondering how they got to that assumption. And I may not blame the artist on this one, a when our “heroes” enter the temple that’s what they all conclude, but we see no Nazi banners or symbols until the following issue after they’ve already spent a considerable amount of time in there. A small quip, but I found it to be a big one too due to not understand whether the characters were smart or dumb for making an assumption like that upon first entry.
Anyways, I am so glad I bought this used for $1.99. That’s really the only way I’d recommend anyone else buy it. I give Survival of the Fittest:
1 Man-Eating cave-man out 5