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posted April 12, 2006
Erik Larsen, Franchesco!
Image Comics, 64 pages, 2006, $5.99
The cover here strikes me as odd for a couple of reasons. The first is that something horrible happened to She-Dragon's back leg, and I don't mean some sort of war injury. If you look at the sketches included in the back of the comic, the most advanced rough is a much more interesting drawing and the anatomy looks a lot more properly structured than the final product. Is it a coloring thing? I can't tell, but whatever happened even if it was just a bad choice or two on what version to use is a disservice to the artist. The other weird thing about the cover is that I think She-Dragon's going commando here, and the shadows on other parts of her body are depicted as a very distinct computer effect: this means that black, threaded patch between her legs becomes... I don't know, a stylized crotch shot? I don't mean to point that out as a prude or anything but it just looks like production on the cover was kind of inattentive to nuances of the drawing, which is strange as I think the drawing is supposed to be the root of this book's appeal.
As far as the interiors, where we follow She-Dragon through slavery on a distant, Forbidden Zone-type world through her escape and back to Savage Dragon's earth, I may be so opposite the audience for this book that if I were to accidentally touch someone who was there might be a small explosion. To my eye this is pretty basic, generic sword and sorcery action with superpowers thrown in, the kind you might see in any mainstream comic book from the last 30 years. If it were a movie you would recognize extras from old issues of Lobo
. There's little at all appealing to me about the She-Dragon character, who speaks in a generic voice and seems defined through a kind of passive acceptance of various roles to play and a crush on Savage Dragon. Well, the big boobs are kind of a defining character element, too. There's nothing particularly imaginatively staged about any of the fights, or anything that jumps out about the design of the characters or settings. I sort of don't get it, and at $5.99 I really don't get it. I'm guessing the cheesecake aspects are supposed to appeal, but the women drawn by Franchesco! lack that otherworldly, luminous quality that figures from top of the line guys like Stevens, Hughes or Manara evince. Without that, you're not left with much.