I chose to review “Pantha” #1 with absolutely no expectations, having only the one-time Teen Titan of the same name in my memory banks for any sort of reference. Somehow, with expectations that low, “Pantha” still under-delivered.
It’s a bad start to a first issue when the creator credits inside the front cover are wrong. Pow Rodrix, who only has nine letters in his name, is mis-credited and the issue goes downhill from there. With this book, instead of TNT, Dynamite Entertainment appears to be going for T and A. The story opens with a reflection back to ancient Egypt but doesn’t make it to the page turn without proudly displaying the titular character in her “costume” that would make headliners at a gentlemen’s club blush.
Rodrix delivers shapely, painfully posed females throughout the remainder of the story. Beyond that singular note, however, Rodrix seems out-of-touch or off-base with the story. Characters float through non-descript environments, action sequences are a bit off (like a snake biting the top of a guy’s head, but somehow ripping his face off) and a general lack of details not related to female anatomy. There’s a rash of sameface that pervades the issue, from ancient times to the modern day and some of the characters are graced with really bizarre costume and hair combinations simply to achieve some level of distinction. I recall Rodrix’s art being stronger than what we see here and I truly hope he finds his way back to match those recollections.
Of course, the story doesn’t do Rodrix any favors. Brandon Jerwa’s plot is fairly mundane. Pantha is on the track of some missing persons, but her motivation isn’t well defined. As comic book fate would have it, the missing persons case draws Pantha into conflict with an evil resurrected from her past. It’s a standard comics cliche, but the two pieces are simply too disconnected in this issue to really work on their own.
I did get a laugh out of this issue (which I hope was unintentional, otherwise there’s a real dark sense of humor going on here). Towards the end of “Pantha” #1, a law enforcement agent is walking into a non-descript room, which already appears occupied by other agents, and is greeted with the vision of six corpses suspended from the ceiling with venomous snakes coiled about them and biting their eyes. His reaction is, “Aw, no. Look up there — Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” No exclamatory punctuation, no shock, no disgust beyond what he might emit if he just happened to discover the last of the bread in the breadbox was moldy on his way to make a sandwich.
“Pantha” #1 was an impressive disappointment. I like the attempts to link in some Egyptian mythology, but that’s not enough to save this book. In addition to not living up to my expectations, this comic left me with a question. In both feline and human form, Pantha is wearing an amulet around her neck. Given this is comics, I can accept the leopard-print bikini appearing when Pantha transforms to human form from her “panther” (in this case stemming from Africa she would be a leopard) form, but where do the big freaking earrings come from and how does no one see a reflection or glint from them when she’s trying to be stealthy? One thing is certain, I won’t be checking in on “Pantha” going forward to find the answer.