Jirni is a fantasy adventure comic series produced by Aspen Comics and written by J.T. Krul. It follows the adventures of Ara, a princess infused with the spirit of a magic djinn. She’s on a quest to rescue her mother, who has been taken captive by an evil wizard. Today we’ll be taking a look at the second of five chapters in this epic tale’s second volume, entitled “Out to Sea.” Ara’s journey has taken her to the high seas, on board a ship captained by the swashbuckling Captain Boro. Let’s see what lies in store.
The cover is bland. It’s Ara posing for the reader, while Boro stands over a pile of weird green tentacles, and down in the corner we see a ship. There’s just nothing that stands out about this, it’s just the characters posing. There’s no suspense, no indication of adventure to come; well, I suppose the prospect of Captain Boro killing a tentacle monster could be interesting, but by the looks of it he seems fine, so it doesn’t exactly build tension.
I know I’m harping a lot on the cover and we haven’t even gotten into the this, but this is the first thing we see when we pick up the book; it’s an opportunity to draw the reader in and entice them with the possibilities of things to come. Decent artwork and perfect bodies are par for the course by this point. For crying out loud, this is a comic book, not US Weekly. You can afford to show us a little bit of action.
The comic opens with two of Captain Boro’s men on watch. Apparently Ara is alone below deck with the captain, and one of the sailors is peeved that Boro hasn’t let the rest of the crew have sex with Ara… Well, this comic is off to a great start!
We go below deck and see Ara and Boro sitting around a table chatting and flirting playfully. Well, okay, Boro’s flirting, while Ara’s giving him the run-around.
I think it’s about here that I should talk about the art. Jirni Vol. 2 was drawn by comic book artist V. Ken Marion; he specializes in drawing mythical and fantasy characters. If I had to pick one word to describe his art it’d be “over-stylized”. His pages are filled with lines of detail, the characters’ hair flies all over the place, the panels are jammed full of stuff. While his best work is his ability to render the elements (clouds, fire, and water look particularly vibrant throughout this comic) his characters are hyper-stylized, with all the men having square jaws and rippled abs that would make Jacob from Twilight jealous, and all the women are thin and curvaceous with thick lips and big pretty eyes. The problem is that every character has so much detail put into them that it loses its impact. Which is a shame, because it obviously takes an incredible amount of time and talent to finish, but it’s just so unrestrained and needs to be taken in a little.
For an example, look no further than Ara’s outfit. It’s not a bad design by any means. It’s the sort of costume that belongs in a fantasy story, and Juan Fernandez, who did the colors, does a great job contrasting the gold armor and Ara’s purple skin against the earthy backgrounds. But if you remove all the pointy bits sticking out and the swirling carved designs in her armor it’s a pretty simple outfit: a bodice-breastplate, leg armor, a gauntlet on her right hand, and a metal tiara covering her forehead and cheekbones. Take away the intense detail put into the folds of the cloth and armor decorations and it’s fairly generic comic-book armor. But I’m dwelling on this too long again. Let’s move on.
Boro is sharing his life story with Ara and we get a flashback. As a boy his village is destroyed by raiders, he becomes a thief, a gambler, and eventually finds his way on board a ship and acquires a love for the sea. The whole thing is told very well. It’s in broad strokes so we get a sense of his development, but there’s still plenty of room to fill in the details should the story ever want to delve into his past in future stories. The way Boro narrates his own life story is also builds his character well. It’s obvious that he’s leaving out things or embellishing the details for Ara in an attempt to make him look better in her eyes.
We get some more banter between Boro and Ara and then we get a flashback from Ara’s past, showing her family before her travels started, back when they were happy, and everything was hunky dory. Her father teaches her that no one is inherently better than anyone else, the memory of which makes Ara feel that maybe she can trust this saucy sailor.
Back to the two sailors on watch: one of them spots a beautiful mermaid under the water and is entranced. Suddenly she leaps out of the water and she’s not beautiful. She’s hideous, with tentacles, fangs, claws, fins like wings, and a spiky bra… ouch. Then more monsters jump up on deck and begin attacking the crew. Ara and Boro arrive and they start slicing them to pieces, Boro taking the last of them out by… um, cutting some ropes, which causes a mast-beam to swing down and crush them. Way to damage your own ship dude! I think stabbing them was working fine!
Jirni: #2 “Out to Sea” is okay, but not great. It’s mostly character development for Boro and Ara, with some action tacked on at the end that doesn’t feel all that necessary. When it’s over Boro just brushes it all aside as though it was just a minor inconvenience, even thought he BROKE HIS OWN SHIP TO KILL THEM!
It would have been nice if the action had actually moved the story forward. Jirni has given us better stories before, and I’d recommend going back and reading this adventure from the beginning, starting with the first volume. With so much of the comic book industry focused on superheroes it’s nice to have a break, and fantasy series like Jirni offer a good variety that still stirs the imagination.