Shanna the She Devil Volume One – Frank Cho

Shanna 1Boobs! That’s what you are thinking. But before your inner feminist compels you to burn this book before reading, you should read it. Despite being a mostly naked woman in the company of a troop of all male soldiers in the dinosaur infested land that time forgot it isn’t an exploitative T&A fest.

Because Cho knows you are expecting something lowbrow and voyeuristic he delivers both a superb action-fest with a more than capable heroine and a hard look into the relationship between the sexes. Shanna is an extremely powerful character with her background making her stronger and more capable than all the male’s present. Because she has no cultural baggage or experience of patriarchal dominance she gets to design or discover her own brand of femininity.

The art and colouring is superb. Cho has a particular and popular style of drawing the female form. In every pose Shanna is confident, athletic and powerful. We never see her as demure or subservient or depicted solely for titillation. She is an extremely curvaceous woman – who will no doubt suffer from lower back problems in later life – she is certainly not as improbably proportioned as many female characters.
It isn’t just women Cho succeeds in illustrating. All his human characters, his landscapes and in particular his dinosaurs look superb. Some excellent colouring of the jungle vistas, superb sunsets and tell-tale shadows make this book a gorgeous read.

We also have a secret Nazi laboratory. This is one of the smallest story elements and it makes little impact to the plot. Cho seems to use it as a shortcut to magic away a bit of super science (unless I have missed a subtext saying powerful women are evil) so he can get on with story. He does use the iconography extremely well however.

This is an amazing book in terms of art and writing. As Cho is both creator and author this explains why the two mediums are so complimentary in this work. He does not favour either and always selects the best tool for the job. His panel layout with the figures crossing over the borders is pure comic-book gold.

This title was originally going to be part of the Marvel Max range and feature more nudity. Personally I am glad it didn’t as I think might have distracted from the pro-female message and given potential readers the wrong idea about the quality and substance of the text.

Double Thumbs Up!

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