Or – “Not The One From Teen Titans…”
Some remember Pantha from the black and white comics of the 70’s. Some remember Pantha from the 90’s bad-girl boom. If you don’t remember Pantha at all, then Major Spoilers is ready to drop some knowledge on y’all. Naganootch! (Why am I suddenly talking like Jason Mewes?)
Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Artist: Pow Podrix
Cover Artist(s): Sean Chen/Mark Texiera
Colorist: Thiago Dal Bello
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously, in Pantha: A long time ago, Vampirella’s origin was as an alien from the planet Drakulon, with Pantha as one of her frenemies, to use a horribly suspect non-word. Years later, both of their origins have changed, with Pantha as an “elemental goddess” of Egyptian descent. She is a mysterious creature of myth and magic, and her destiny seems to be entwined with a mystical artifact of some sort. Of course, since she’s being relaunched at a new company with a new series, all of that may be moot…
AND WE’RE OFF!
This issue opens with a particularly nice touch for me, a quick recap (in first person) of the origins of Pantha, setting both the tone of the book and the character’s voice for the readers while letting us know who we’re dealing with. The plot is likewise handled well, with Pantha getting a call from her “Watcher,” and an intriguing hint that there may be more like her at home. Pantha’s past as avatar of Sekhmet, the Egyptian cat-goddess intertwines with the present day, as she slinks about in the desert in search of a mysterious macguffin. In this climate, it doesn’t seem quite so gratuitous that Pantha’s “costume” consists of a tiny bikini, thigh boots and evening gloves, but there’s a quiet voice in the back of my head that won’t shut up about her ensemble throughout the issue, which makes for a distracting reading experience. The artist seems to be aware of it, though, and with the exception of those points where a woman with a generous gluteal mass leaping around in a thong would be hard to avoid, the art is mostly successful in avoiding porno glamour shots.
A PARTICULARLY TINY COSTUME, IN KEEPING WITH VAMPI…
As first issues go, this one is a success from the viewpoint of who Pantha is and how she came to be, giving us enough information that we avoid the trap of “mysterious creature from somewhere else.” The introduction of our villain feels very coincidental, though, as does the ending of this issue, but I’m at least interested enough to come back for issue #2. Pantha (like her big “sister” Vampirella) is one of those characters who almost gets a bye from me for her near-nudity, originating from the black and white adult titles of the 1970s, but it’s a difficult balance to present the character as a credible hero while she’s dressed in the manner that she is. This issue keeps that balance for me, which I very much appreciate, and the powers that she exhibits in the issue make the small costume an almost sensible choice. Both story and art are competently done this issue, with small cliche moments visible on both fronts, and a moment with a supporting character that feels awfully homophobic and completely out of place in the issue.
THE VERDICT: A MIXED BAG…
All in all, this book succeeds in reintroducing an old character to a new audience, and wouldn’t be a bad place to start reading Pantha’s adventures. The flaws of the story don’t quite combine to overpower the events of the issue (though your views on Fanservice, violence and quasi-homophobia could certainly change that balance for you) and the coloring/production work doesn’t overwhelm the linework it’s adorning. In short, Pantha #1 gets the job done, hitting a solid ground-rule double and piquing my interest in what this book is going to be, earning an above-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. At the very least, this issue manages to be more than just suggestive costuming…