BARBARELLA, ISSUES #1-3

Writer: Sarah Hoyt

Artist: Madibek Musabekov

Publisher: Dynamite

Barbarella #1, Cover by Lucio Parillo, Dynamite

WHAT IS IT?

A beloved '60s sci-fi heroine returns for a space-traveling adventure where she fights to liberate the downtrodden.


Think Star Wars meets James Bond but with a strong female lead.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

(Minor spoilers)

The universe is tangled in a civil war between the Eternal Empire and the Fraternity of Freedom who seek to free the galaxy’s enslaved people. Earth’s rebel force, the Brotherhood of Tortuga, gain some victories, but at the cost of many lives, which leads them to enlist Barbarella’s help. Supplying her with a new ship, equipped with an angel-like A.I. named Taln, she and her fox-like alien, Vix, go to the Camelot World, a planet exclusively for those retiring extremely wealthy, to answer a transmission from possible slaves.


Barbarella and Taln have little trouble entering Camelot and walk around in plain sight, but oddly go unnoticed by the residents, leading them to believe something is very wrong. The team finds out that someone from another world has been controlling the residents of Camelot via a signal relay. After freeing the planet, they find the location of the signal, a water world called Encantado, and head off to find out more. What she discovers only makes everything more complicated.


WHAT WORKS

  • As a newcomer to comics, Sarah Hoyt knocks it out of the park. Each world that Barbella visits is unique and well-conceptualized, and the overall story compels the reader to find out what happens next.

  • The intricacy displayed in Madibek Musabekov’s pencils is stunning. Many scenes contain multiple spaceships, buildings, and people, but without taking away focus from the main characters.

  • "Larger-than-life" is what comes to mind when viewing the colors of Ivan Nunes. There are many moments where objects seem to jump off the page. His shading of the many electronic elements within the panels is expertly done and gives the impression of these devices actually glowing.

  • Carlos M. Mangual’s lettering is clean and unobtrusive, never covering the complex landscapes and lush colors.

  • Musabekov demonstrates an adept versatility in his drawing with the differing styles for each planet and a surreal dream sequence. While Camelot features a bustling metropolis full of angular skyscrapers and spaceships, Encantado is a more natural environment of rock formations and flowing plants.

  • Hoyt does an incredible job of making Barbarella emotionally complex and fleshing her out more than her 1960s counterpart while also maintaining her powers of seduction.

  • There is a particularly clever use of color with the lettering that hints at a reveal within the story but is subtle enough that most readers wouldn’t notice it until after the fact.


WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  • Content Warning: There is some suggestive nudity in each comic which may turn some readers off.

  • The story focuses mainly on the mystery and politics of the situation and there are only brief moments of action.

  • Introductory information could have been a bit better established and reinforced to stick in the reader’s mind.


WHY SHOULD I READ IT?

Barbarella #1, Page 1, Interior Art by Madibek Musabekov, Dynamite

Everything about these books screams big. One of the ways they accomplish this is by exploring the ideas of freedom and liberation. The Brotherhood of Tortuga’s mission is to free all enslaved peoples. By using the mind control on the wealthy and the residents of Encantado being forced into slavery, the author shows how freedom can be taken from anyone in many ways. Expanding this idea to an interplanetary scale makes these ideas even bigger and more pronounced. The art team also captures the grandiosity of the story beautifully. Every scene is packed full of detail and color and makes each world feel teeming with life--a reader can find something new with each reread.


Barbarella has been transformed from a tights-wearing object who continually has to be rescued by men throughout her mission to a leader with complex emotions and motivations. The reader gets to see her deep empathy for those around her who have been enslaved as well as her own internal emotional struggles. On top of this, she rescues herself and fights alongside those on her crew. The story also shifts Barbarella’s use of sex away from being a tool to gain something from a man to her own enjoyment. She goes from being seduced to seducing those who she wants. In a way, she liberates herself from the sexual restrictions often placed on women while still maintaining her power and autonomy.


These books are perfect for any fan of action or sci-fi, especially those who enjoy stories that display different vibrant worlds and beings. Anyone who loves Barbarella, but perhaps wanted a more in-depth look at the character, would be satisfied by these books as well.

WHAT DO I READ NEXT?

If you like the writing:

  • Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt

  • Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson & Sarah A. Hoyt

  • Hadrian’s Wall by Alec Siegel & Kyle Higgins


If you like the art:

  • Ermek Batyr by Madibek Musabekov

  • Brothers #1 by Aidiye Aidarbekov & Madibek Musabekov

  • Star Wars (2020) by Charles Soule & Jesus Saiz


ABOUT THE CREATORS

Sarah Hoyt (@sarahahoyt) – Writer

  • Sarah is a novelist of multiple genres and won a Prometheus Award in 2011 for her novel Darkship Thieves.

  • She grew up in Portugal and moved to the United States in 1985.

  • She used to be a multilingual scientific translator.


Madibek Musabekov (@m_mykosch) – Artist

  • Madibek is also a writer, penning the comics Ermek Batyr and Golden Warrior.

  • He has also done cover art for Dynamite’s Sacred Six, Vampiverse, and Vampirella vs. Purgatori.

  • Madibek hails from Kazakhstan.


Ivan Nunes – Colorist

  • Multi-talented: Ivan is also a cover artist having drawn for books such as Cyborg, Green Lanterns, and Justice League Odyssey for DC comics and Grimm Fairy Tales for Zenescope.

  • Ivan hails from Brazil.


Carlos M. Mangual (@social_myth) – Letterer

  • Mangual is a rising star and has contributed lettering to multiple publishers including Panicopress (Gunbreed), Aftershock (Scout's Honor & Search For Hu), and DC (Nightwing & Batman & Robin).

  • Multi-talented: He has also written and illustrated A Self Portrait Comic which is an autobiographical romantic comedy.

  • Carlos began to take comics as a career more seriously after viewing the 1989 Batman film.


HOW DO I BUY IT?


The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.


All Barbarella characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of the Estate of Jean-Claude Forest or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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