Comic Book Review – Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice

Trevor Hogg tries to keep up with an impulsive historical figure who has a knack of getting in and out of trouble whether in the past or the future…

cleo01_frontcoverWhen fifteen-year-old Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian.

 A pursuit takes place in a jungle located on an alien planet where a girl with a multi-coloured hairdo carrying a laser gun and a mysterious box mistakenly believes she has avoided capture.   A giant leap off a cliff in an attempt to avoid capture nearly has deadly consequences for the sassy teenager until a flying Sphinx bike with a cat appears.

As the unlikely duo rocket off into space the story transport itself back to ancient Egypt where a mischievous 15 year old Cleopatra is about to have her coronation ceremony; she is more interested in shooting lizards with her slingshot accompanied by childhood friend Gozi than becoming a studious ruler.   A well-aimed rock ricochets hitting the intended target but inadvertently causes a massive collapse leading to the discovery of a tomb.  The spontaneous and curious royal figure activates a tablet which results in her being transported into the future where she attends the Yasiro Academy and learns of a prophecy involving her becoming the saviour of the universe.

CiS01_009The opening action sequence echoes Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) where Indiana Jones is chased by spear throwing natives, swings on a vine, and is saved by a seaplane.  There is also the “fish out of water” storyline as the trials and tribulations being a teenage girl in high school having to cope with societal expectations which allows for a wealth of character development.  Also playing a significant role is the hero’s journey which was explored famously by Joseph Campbell and inspired blockbusters such as Star Wars (1977) and The Matrix (1999).  In keeping with the young adult audience the overriding tone is one where the protagonist encounters some good nature adventures free of graphic violence and sex.

Like Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Mike Maihack prides himself in simplicity whether illustrating the characters or the environments they inhabit.  The colour scheme is as vibrant as the spunky Cleopatra who has the ability to steal your wallet and heart at the same time.  Maihack could have a career has a production designer as he has a great ability for world building as the different settings are filled with personality and epic in scope.  When it comes to the narrative structure by making use of a number of reversal fortune situations the pacing never seems to be slow.   An amusing sequence involves the reaction of the disinterested student while attending her various classes; the Tampa Bay based creator cleverly lets the images rather than the words tell the story.

Perhaps, it is her youthful enthusiasm and thrill of adventure which allows Cleopatra not wallow in sorrow about leaving her friends and family behind; but then again that would just cramp her style!  Or maybe the past will collide with the future further on in the series.  Regardless, Mike Maihack is taking full advantage of the publishing opportunity provided by Graphix which has allowed him to expand his Cleopatra in Space well beyond its webcomic origins and is having a lot of fun in the process.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.

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