REVIEW: The Jungle Book: Last of the Species #1
Mowgli, Akili and their animal pals are back for the sequel series to Zenescope Entertainment’s The Jungle Book. After Mowgli took her vengeance on the tiger Shere Khan, things have been tense on Kipling Island as all the tribes begin to once again fight one another for rule over the jungle. Will Mowgli and her friends make it to the top of the food chain or will these man-cubs just end up prey? More after the jump!
The Jungle Book: Last of the Species #1
Writer: Mark L. Miller
Artist: Jorge Mercado
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Colorist: Liezl Buenaventura
Editor: Matt Rogers
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in the Jungle Book: Mowgli defeated the tyrant Shere Khan for murdering Mother Wolf. This opened old wounds and sent many on the warpath, including the Shere clan now led by their adopted human cub, Bomani. Although she found friends in the Tavi tribe and their cub, Akili, Mowgli feared she might have done more harm than good in pursuing her vengeance…
ANIMAL FARM FOR PEOPLE WHO’VE NEVER READ OR UNDERSTOOD ANIMAL FARM
Mowgli and her tribe live under an uneasy truce with the other tribes of Kipling Island, particularly the Shere clan and their new leader, Bomani. As Bomani leads the tigers on a violent path of domination against the Payari, the elephant herd, a playful encounter with Dewan, a member of the insane Ape tribe, turns deadly. Akili, leader of the Tavi tribe, also makes her appearance with her faithful jackal friend Tobaqui, rescuing Hathi, the trunkling child from the Payari. Don’t worry, all these names and tribes are much easier to follow if you’ve read the books.
This series is probably the most lighthearted and fun of the Zenescope universe. Miller seems to really like playing around with various themes from the Jungle Book stories. While not as serious or in-depth as Animal Farm, there are some still some heavy sociopolitical themes inherent in the plot, such as the nature of war, peace, domination and even racism (or species-ism?).
Like many of the Zenescope titles, this series has some heavy influences from not only the actual Jungle Book, but from the Jungle Book cartoon as well. Having only read parts of the Rudyard Kipling book, generally the cartoon is all I personally have to go on when referencing the Jungle Book. Also, they seem to reference the much less well-known cartoon movie Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, another story in the Jungle Book novel, which is great for fans of both the book and the cartoon.
Plus, there’s a great mini-story serial at the end of this book detailing why Baloo the bear is the only one of his kind on Kipling Island, something I wondered about when watching the movie as a kid.
HOLY CRUD, SHE’S NOT BUILT LIKE BARBIE!
The art for this series is much less bloody and graphic than just about all of the Zenescope titles. The gore is generally subdued, addressed off-panel or framed via shadows. Though I am a big fan of the violent Wonderland series from Zenescope, the more lax-attitude in the Jungle Book regarding the gore is a bit of a welcome break. Not to say it isn’t there. It is. It’s just way less pronounced.
Another thing that’s kind of a relief is the build of both Mowgli and Akili. The women in Zenescope are known for being portrayed as busty super models, which is fine and expected of these titles. However, the women of this series are much less so. Though both are muscular, way less emphasis is put on their busts. It’s a nice surprise and I think a welcome addition for female fans that may not be of the wasp-waisted over exaggerated figure variety. The same can generally be said of the two boys in the book, Dewan and Bomani. While Bomani is super muscular and chiseled, Dewan is much more lanky and less idealized.
Overall, this is a series you could potentially visually show to strong-stomached older kids.
BOTTOMLINE: A FUN TAKE ON THE JUNGLE BOOK STORY
This series is definitely different from Zenescope’s usual line of work and it’s a welcome break to see them branch out thematically. With a more realistic looking female Mowgli and a story about power within the established system, this is a fun more grown-up take on the Jungle Book and a good sequel. However, it is a bit pricey for what it is and one might be lost if they haven’t read the original series. Flip through it first and, if you have the extra cash, pick up a copy. Or just wait for the trade paperback. Overall, The Jungle Book: Last of the Species earns a 3.5 out of 5.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!