Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Death and Reincarnation: Xena #1 (2006)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

-- Sylvia Plath


Main Heroes: Xena, Gabrielle
Minor Heroes: Joxer, Autolycus

Major Villains: Levitriol, Hydra
Minor Villains: Greek gods, Egyptian gods


When a gift from the Egyptian god Ra to Isis is stolen, the Egyptian gods blame the Greeks and declare war. During all-encompassing battle, a hydra attacks a passenger vessel. Luckily Xena and Gabrielle are aboard and quickly dispatch with the beast. Joxer, also on board, steals a lifeboat and the three ride to shore. There, they find a bunch of Egyptian beasts attacking a Greek town.

Meanwhile, Zeus receives a messenger from his Egyptian counterpart Ra. The messenger states that the war is killing all of their worshippers, and that the war could be ended with less bloodshed if the parties each choose a Champion, who will fight on behalf of their gods in single combat.

As Xena and company flee the Egyptian monsters, the find Autolycus tied to a tree, and rescue him just before he is to be killed by the giant Levitriol. At this point, the Greeks gods start looking on, trying to choose a champion. Hades suggests Callisto, and Ares suggests Xena, but Zeus is impressed by Levitriol. As they watch the fight, Zeus determines that his Champion will be either Levitriol, or whomever defeats him. Xena and Levitriol fight, with Gabrielle as backup and Joxer and Autolycus nowhere to be seen. When Xena flips Levitriol off of her, though, she flies through the air and is accidentally impaled on Gabrielle's staff. Zeus thus choosing Gabrielle to serve as his Champion in the battle with the Egyptians.


It is either a strength or a weakness of fantasy in general (and comics in particular), that everyone's a potential "firebird". As any real Xenaphile knows, Xena was killed in the final episode of the TV series (okay -- I never actually watched that particular episode, but I watched enough of them.) And yet, there she is, walking around and kicking butt. It has reached the point where we can completely elide over how she came back to life. While the next arc of Xena (starting at #5) is supposed to fill in the gaps and explain how she returned, that is almost irrelevant at this point. For the first issue, though, a couple of short points:

1. Levitriol. This just completely cracked me up! A perfect name for a giant, macho villain! (For those who have functioning Spam filters, Levitrol is a male "enhancement" supplement).

2. The outfit. It's the same on, in general, that she had in on TV, with metal circles around her breasts, curving down to a point just above her navel, but in the comic book it looks a lot more like a cutesy heart, which I don't like. (See art, above).

3. The art. Spotty. Some images are very good. A bunch of them, though, just don't cut it. In Xena's first appearance, I was trying to figure out why Gabrielle was with an Asian woman in Xena's outfit. It would have been an interesting plot point, but it turned out to just be a poorly drawn Xena.

4. The writing. I am liking the writing, though, and it gets better after Callisto shows up. Good writing trumps bad art any day.

5. The covers. Each issue, so far, has come in a choice of three covers -- two drawn, and one with a picture of Lucy Lawless. I have been picking one of the drawn covers (whichever one I like best). Seems like a little overkill, though, for a low circulation comic. The Lucy Lawless cover of the next issue has always been the back cover, so I'm getting 2 out of 3 anyway.

6. The hydra. Wasn't the whole point of the hydra that when you caught off a head, two immediately grew back in its place? That's certainly not what happened here.

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