Written by Brandon Jerwa
Art by Pow Podrix
Colors by Thiago Dal Bello
Letters by Marshall Dillon
Covers by Sean Chen and Mark Texiera
Release Date: June 13, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99
I’ve haven’t had much exposure to Vampirella other than drooling at her famously scant costume in issues of Wizard when I was a teenager. In 2010, Dynamite Entertainment acquired the rights to Vampirella and began publishing her series soon thereafter. One of her longtime allies, Pantha, gets a spot in the limelight with the debut of her own ongoing series, Pantha. This release is the first move of Dynamite’s planned expansion of the Vampirella universe.
In ancient times, Sekhmet the Egyptian goddess of war, committed some atrocities. As punishment, Ra separated several of her aspects and sentenced them to eternally roam the Earth, atoning for Sekhmet’s sins. Pantha, an immortal shape-shifter, is one of these aspects. In this debut comic, she’s investigating a missing persons crime near the Mexican border in New Mexico. What she finds introduces a nemesis long thought dead and a mysterious woman, Mayra, who seems to have some link to Pantha’s Egyptian past.
Writer Brandon Jerwa claims that Pantha #1 is a great starting point for new fans and that you need no info other than what’s introduced in the first three pages. Is he right? Well, yeah, kind of. I had no issues following the storyline. A few lines of dialogue were obviously aimed towards longtime fans. I had no idea who several characters, such as Pendragon, are or what this Chaos thing is. I even wondered why Pantha was investigating crimes in the United States in the first place. I made reasonable assumptions about Pendragon and Chaos and trusted that most of my other questions will eventually be answered without consulting the almighty Google too much.
Pantha is supposedly the last of a group of immortals that are doomed to an Earthly existence for all eternity. This whole notion is disproven in the first page of the comic. Pantha can’t possibly be the last of Sekhmet’s avatars — if somebody can die, then they are not immortal. I’m admittedly new to this universe, but if this is the story, then “mostly immortal” is a more apt description.
So, Pantha and I started off on the wrong foot with this logic gap, but the comic quickly grew on me. I especially enjoyed the introduction of Jay Flynn, a plucky news reporter who seems to be playing a reverse Lois Lane role. He works my dream job: researching news leads at a bar while slamming shots of whiskey. The comic also introduces us to Mamba, a wickedly violent villain who shares Pantha’s shape-shifting ability and some yet to be divulged history.
Brandon Jerwa posits several mysteries in this first issue that set the stage for story arc that explores Pantha’s ancient Egyptian origins. Jerwa narrates only the necessarily brief rundown of Pantha’s backstory; the rest of the story unfolds in well-paced scenes. The potential exists for Pantha to evolve into an exceptional, action-packed, supernatural-mystery comic. Or the storyline could just become a mechanism for hot, impossibly stacked goddesses wearing scraps of lingerie to gruesomely rip the faces off their helpless victims. Not that I’d complain too much: that’s really half the battle. But I’m hopeful that this story arc builds on the momentum created in this first issue.
Pantha definitely has a target audience. 14-year-old me would suffer a Cornholio attack from the sensory overload of PG-13 eye-candy. I would’ve spent hours lustily copying Pantha and Mamba into my sketchbook. Now in my mid-30s, my hormone-levels are decreasing at an exponential rate – according to the 3AM infomercials, I’m doomed to effective eunuchism unless I buy their pills. This first issue of Pantha delivers some juicy bits of story with its fan service. Even a cranky, middle-aged man like me found lots to like here. Let’s hope it continues in issue #2.