Writer: Chris Warner
Artist: Patrick Olliffe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 07/01/2015
Well this is kind of interesting. Way back in the day, Barb Wire was Dark Horse’s major female player. A bondage attire wearing bounty hunter who got by on her looks as much as her fighting skills. The fan boys loved her, even though there was more than an element of image over substance.
Then Pamela Anderson showed up. To say that the film wasn’t an Oscar winner is an understatement.
Now, after quite a few years, behind a very Harley Quinn-esque cover, Barb Wire is back. Written by creator Chris Warner, we get a quick catch up which serves to introduce and re-introduce Steel Harbour and it’s denizens. The script is fun in a sort of obvious way. The banter between Barb’s helpers for example, is tempered with the more obvious fan service elements (the whole calling Barb babe gets a couple of run throughs). The bar scene with her brother is a tad clunky, but does serve to show there are more characters in the Harbour than the lead character and her nemesis for the issue.
Pat Olliffe is on art duties. Now, I have been a fan of Olliffe since seeing his work on Nomad. He shares a style similar to Graham Nolan, allowing clean lines and camera angles to propel the story without over reaching. Granted this may mean you don’t get large splash pages, but on the flip you also don’t get lazy or wasted panels. When you do see a larger panel, check out the punchline to the “something smokin’ on your cycle and I smell petrol” joke for example, the quality and attention to detail is equal anything else in the book. Olliffe’s lines are helped by inker Tom Nguyen and the colours supplied by Gabe Eltaeb, who between them do not over play their respective trades, which goes to show hows how strong Olliffe’s work is.
The thing that makes the book interesting is the timing. The original Barb Wire, rightly or wrongly, will always be seen as hot girl in leather type of book, serving to objectify women. With the fact that the industry is striving for more equality for both female characters and creators, it seems the world may not be ready for a throwback to the inequality era.
That said, I think that Warner tries his best to work with in the parameters of expectations. Yes, Barb is attractive. Yes, it is commented on, subtly and not so subtly. But she is also successful as a bounty hunter, as potential reality show star and of course has the bar. The first issue sets the tone and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s easy to read, despite falling into cliché and stereotype at times, coupled with great art.