J. T. Krul joins the “10 for 10” celebration at Aspen with the adventures of “Jirni” #1 featuring art from Paolo Pantalena. Jirni is not the name of the lead character, but rather the name of the world she inhabits. That world is filled with mysticism and magic, d’jinn and thieves, killers and quests. Krul contributes a hefty text piece at the back of this specially-priced one dollar issue that provides some of his thoughts on the development and influences of this series as well as brief biographical captions for each of the characters introduced in this issue.
The ridiculous curves and spilling cleavage that freckle the pages of “Jirni” #1 meet my preconceived notion of Aspen Comics, unlike the previous “10 for 10” offerings of “Legend of the Shadow Clan” and “Shrugged.” Ara throws a pout over her shoulder in a cheeky pose on the cover, unless you’re looking at one of the cleavage variants. From there, two panels don’t pass without outrageous cleavage or gratuitous butt shots, making Red Sonja seem modest by comparison.
That said, Pantalena’s bold outlines are striking on the cover, but when applied to the entire book — characters and scenery alike — the book is immersed in a sameness that Brett Smith’s colors simply are not strong enough to wash away. Pantalena’s storytelling is clean and crisp, just buried under thick lines. The artist does a nice job of creating a diverse collection of inhabits for Jirni; I just wish we had more depth to his work on the pages. Even some shading would provide depth and variance that would help the visuals tremendously. Pantalena’s sketches included in the backmatter are nice and crisp, but they don’t contend with any background, especially not background with weight of its own.
“Jirni” #1 pulls no punches in establishing a confident and (overly) sexy heroine with a will that is unchecked and a quest that can be supported. This is familiar territory for readers of fiction, fantasy, science fiction and comics, but Krul brings newness to the story beyond the featured purple-skinned warrior woman on the cover. Ara’s powers are impressive and effective and her conscience quickly assumes responsibility for Nylese, who is set upon a quest of her own. Of the three titles I’ve sampled in Aspen’s “10 for 10,” I think “Jirni” has the most complete world to offer. This is a title I’ll more likely be checking in with than the others, I just wish it weren’t so (butt)cheeky.