Frank Cho understands the need and market for jungle girl cheesecake wrapped in pulp storylines. His first graphic novel about Jana, the remarkable and death-defying princess of an unknown island wilderness teeming with dinosaurs and other fantastic creatures, was an absolute blast. He and co-conspirators Doug Murray and Adriano Batista knock another season out of the park with this latest offering, and leave their fans gnashing their teeth in frustration at having to wait for the next installment.
The graphic novels operate much like the old Saturday morning serials. One set of adventures follows hot on the heels of the last. In this book, Jana, Togg, and Mike have only escaped certain death minutes before. And then a blazing object crashes into a mountain as they watch. Of course, they immediately start out to figure out what it was. Mike is of the opinion that it was a space shuttle, something from the 21st century, which is when he’s from.
For whatever reason, though, time doesn’t seem to work well on the island. Dinosaurs are still wandering around everywhere, and they remain a constant threat to life and limb. Even more astounding, a World War II German sub has been marooned there as well, and the crew is trying to extricate themselves without getting eaten by sea monsters.
But that comes in much later. Before the reader gets to that part, there’s a lot of action and cheesecake as our favorite jungle girl proves time and time again that she’s the most deadly species in the wilderness. Although I wish Frank Cho was drawing the book, Adriano Batista is a marvelous artist who works with the same vigor and eye-popping visual as Cho. The panels of action that follow, and of the ones of Jana simply standing there, draw the eye like magnets.
This volume plunges straight into semi-fantasy with the introduction of vicious mermaids, and I can’t wait to see if Jana’s future adventures include more exploration of the underwater environs surrounding the alley.
But the weirdest homage of all is the dark trip into H. P. Lovecraft territory. The monsters and evil beings that turn out to be the primary antagonists in this cycle of issues seem derived from Lovecraft’s dark fantasies about Cthulu. The story’s pacing never deviates and flips back and forth among our principle characters in true pulp tradition. The action is headlong and totally enthralling, moving from land to underwater to submerged cave without missing a beat.
I can’t say your life is going to be improved after reading Jungle Girl Season 2, but if you want something that will take the edge off of a day or week that’s been way too serious, this is definitely a graphic novel that will do it. And the art is so beautiful I’ll bet you find yourself thumbing back through different sequences of the adventure.
Bring on Season 3!