"King: Jungle Jim" #1 takes readers to the jungle world of Arboria in a story written by Paul Tobin with art from Sandy Jarrell. For readers new to the King Features lineup at Dynamite Entertainment, Arboria was last seen in the recently completed "Flash Gordon" series, and this issue clearly picks up some plot points from that series.
From jokes about stepping in animal-crafted landmines to humorous winks and nudges poking fun at the Beast-Men, writer Paul Tobin gives readers plenty of upbeat story moments and character developments to enjoy in "King: Jungle Jim" #1. Readers already familiar with the inhabitants of Arboria from the "Flash Gordon" series will get a little more return on investment in this comic book, but one need not have ever encountered Arboria before to embark on the quest for a hundred-year-old myth.
That myth is both gaining traction among the slaves of Arboria and making life difficult for Ming the Merciless' forces, as Tobin illustrates for readers in scenes that are juxtaposed with Prince Barin of Arboria's recruitment drive. Barin makes his presence known early in "King: Jungle Jim" #1 and introduces readers and Lille Devrille (who "gets strange when she's not drunk") to Thun, the lion-man, and Kugor, the rhino-man. Along the way, Tobin defines Jungle Jim in Arborian terms and provides depth to the characters of Lille and Kugor, which is a good thing, since Jungle Jim's appearance does not happen until later in the issue.
The art for "King: Jungle Jim" #1 is fun and energetic, but a little bit wobbly. Sandy Jarrell draws and colors the book, which in some spots seems more complete than in others, as scenes in the latter half of the book are sketchier and the colors less rangy and measurably flatter. Jarrell's storytelling is largely solid, save one or two minor leaps in storytelling, like the trio appearing on a cliff in one panel and in the midst of a settlement the next or Kugor standing up and showing the reader the bottom of his foot for no reason at all during a conversation that switches participants midway. These bobbles are minor and easily overlooked as the story packs plenty of action and character moments for Jarrell and letterer Marshall Dillon to tackle accordingly. Jarrell's take on Kugor is especially fun, as are the rhino-man's interactions with Arborians Lille and Plove.
The King Features Syndicate celebration continues to share gifts with the readers, but the best part about this initiative is the fact that, under the careful guidance of editor Nate Cosby, the characters have been united and their adventures coordinated. In a time when event fatigue cripples the enthusiasm of comic readers, this is a fun celebration. "King: Jungle Jim" #1, in particular, gives readers a chance to catch up with a character that is more of a blank slate but is still niftily tied to the other stories in this initiative.