An obsessed man travels outside the reach of the law to establish a planet called Christmas, where he creates the ultimate Christmas resort. It becomes a haven for those who consider themselves outside the law, and when a murder is committed, the man known as Santa Claus has no choice but to recruit Barbarella, that sultry siren of the spaceways, to investigate! The Barbarella Holiday Special is out now from Dynamite Entertainment!

Barbella Holiday Special ReviewBARBARELLA HOLIDAY SPECIAL REVIEW

Writer: Jean-Marc Lofficier
Artist: Jose Luis Ruiz Perez
Colors: Bryan Wetstein
Cover: Jose Luis Ruiz Perez
Publisher:  Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: November 5th, 2018
Cover Price: $5.99

Previously in Barbarella: Barbarella was created by Jean-Claude Forest in 1962 and appeared in the French publication V Magazine. Thought of by some as the first erotic comic, it became a symbol for the emerging sexual revolution. However, it may never have gained the prominence it has in the United States and other parts of the world, if not for a 1968 science fiction film based on the property that starred Jane Fonda. Although multiple publishers have reprinted the initial stories multiple times, Dynamite Comics currently publishes the Barbarella monthly series.

SLAY BELLS RING, ARE YOUR GUILTY!

The planet of Christmas never became the type of resort that catered to children, despite its original intent, but it has become a haven for people just outside of the law to have a safe haven and negotiate deals and perform mediation. In an adjustment of his original vision, the man who took the identity if Santa Clause proclaimed it a safe world, no violence allowed. It was an edict he had monitored by his own team of killer boots. The result was Christmas becoming very popular with people seeking to stay outside of the reach of ZETI law, and Niklaus Claus coffers grew to prove it. When a murder is uncovered on Christmas, Claus realizes it would be detrimental to his brand to allow it to go unpunished. Ironically, the person who discovered the murder is none other than Barbarella, space adventurer extraordinaire! Claus tasks her with discovering who committed the murder and help, gives her assistance.  Using holocards he confiscated after a guest left without paying, he transforms one of his elf bots into Maxime Saint-Clair, aka The Guardian of the Republic! After catching up the lawman/superhero to the times, he was of the second species of humans, Barbarella is of the third, and Claus introduces them to the most likely suspects. They include the dead man’s leased companion, a high priestess devoted to peace, a “business man” with questionable ties, a robotic ruler and a revolutionary who is fighting his regime, and a young film holoproduction star and her guardian.

As the pair of investigators begins to question their suspects, they come to conclusions that may lead to the apprehension of the culprit. When one of the suspects is killed, the game changes for Barbaraella and the Guardian. Not only do they have to change their investigative tactics, but also the memory encoded in the Guardian could begin to decay at any time. Will they find the killer before its too late, and will Guardian’s, let us say interactions, with Barbarella change his fate?

SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR…

The Barbarella Holiday Special is written by French editor and writer Jean-Marc Lofficier (Cheval Noir, Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme). He has a great deal of experience with both European and American styles of comics, and it shows in his writing of this special. The European comics have a great deal of attention to the story and not as much detail on exactly how the main characters arrived. When we see Barbarella on planet Christmas, there is no explanation, she’s just there. Same for the character of Maxime Saint-Clair. Although French publisher Hexagon Comics in France publishes his adventures, there is no explanation as to who he is outside of the idea that he is a lawman from the past. It is enough that he is there and he will be assisting Barbarella in her investigation. While there are some nice pieces of dialogue throughout, and the eroticism is not ratcheted up as you may expect for a Barbarrella story, it does have a rather monotonous tone overall. Once you get past the idea of a planet named Christmas run by a man with a Santa Claus fixation, you realize the book could have been set on an island resort or a mountain resort with a no violence rule. The Christmas connection is tentative at best, but it does add to a sort of strange normality that many European comics possess.

The artwork by Jose Luis Ruiz Perez (Teen Titans, Bionic Man vs. Bionic Woman) looks great, but a flaw revealed when you see Barbarella for the first time. There are some issues with the facial features of the female characters, a once you see it you can’t un-see it issue. All of their eyes are slanted upward and there is something about the noses… they look as if they had been part of an early nineties independent comic cast. To be fair, I am not sure if this is the fault of the artist or the colorist. There are instances where colorist Bryan Wetstein seemed to try and use the colors to define the facial features, and it sometimes just does not work. It’s a shame, anatomy and perspective issues aside, there are panels of this book that look spectacular. The first three pages, which detail the origin of Christmas, are a treat! It looks to set up the stage for a visually delightful story, but uneven results hurt more than help. I would like to say, I absolutely loved the cover, also by Perez. The image of Barbarella there shows a stunning woman with a wonderfully unique profile with great attention paid to the flow of the design. That is a cover worthy of the character’s history.

BOTTOM LINE: FANS OF BARBARELLA AND EUROPEAN COMICS REJOICE!

I believe that fans of Barbarella or of the European style of sequential storytelling will enjoy the BARBARELLA HOLIDAY SPECIAL. It is true to the tradition and history of the character, and has some satisfying beats in it. If you are looking for a holiday special in the traditional mode… well, let me ask, do you consider Diehard a Christmas movie? If so, this is the holiday special for you. If not, then this is more of a Red Skies issue.

The BARBARELLA HOLIDAY SPECIAL has some great ideas, but the execution may fall short for some readers.

Barbarella Holiday Special

47%
47%
Great Ideas

I believe that fans of Barbarella or of the European style of sequential storytelling will enjoy the BARBARELLA HOLIDAY SPECIAL. It is true to the tradition and history of the character, and has some satisfying beats in it. If you are looking for a holiday special in the traditional mode… well, let me ask, do you consider Diehard a Christmas movie? If so, this is the holiday special for you. If not, then this is more of a Red Skies issue.

The BARBARELLA HOLIDAY SPECIAL has some great ideas, but the execution may fall short for some readers.

  • Writing
    6
  • Art
    4
  • Coloring
    4
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About Author

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold. He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours. He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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