Are you a fan of proper old-school pulpy, campy sci-fi? Yes? Then Robin Evans has a comic you might be interested in. Are you also maybe a fan of comics with lesbian and fetishy BDSM/women-in-peril overtones? I say overtones, the lesbian aspect really isn’t an overtone, but anyway. Are you into that as well? Then Venna’s Planet could be worth checking out.
At some undetermined point in the future the crew of the human spaceship Suntreader are fighting against an alien species known as the Krog for ownership of a planet called Promise. Through a series of misadventures, betrayals, counter-betrayals and counter-reverse-no take back-betrayals, Venna and her friends find themselves immersed in a tale of conspiracy, mad science experiments, monsters and bikinis. Lots of bikinis.
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Book One – Broken Promise – sets the scene and introduces us to our main characters, the story focused primarily on progatonist Venna 8362 and her Commander/Nemesis Galo 112 aka ‘The Countess’ and the origins of the Krog. The whole thing with the characters having serial numbers instead of full names is promptly dropped after this first book.
Book Two – Scorching Darkness – continues Venna’s misadventures on Promise, a large portion of this story arc focusing on shenanigans involving a tribe of native folks known as Trakuviads that were introduced near to the end of book one. We need to briefly recap the story of the first two books because otherwise nothing that happens in Book Three – Peril in Prime City – will make sense. While we’re focusing here on this latest instalment, we have to state flat out that if you try to pick the story up at this point, you will be utterly lost. Make sure you start with book one as this is an ongoing story told over all three volumes.
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That said, what does book three have to offer? Well, lots more shenanigans, this time focusing on Prime City. The Countess continues her relentless pursuit of Venna, desperate to bend the other woman to her will, we’re introduced to the, um, unique character of Captain Horriun and his unwilling crew of slaves, and while all this is going on we have Clyg and Shelly and Geezur and Jylda and Grust and Clayton and Shelly and Dortha and Phileas and there are SO. MANY. CHARACTERS. It’s honestly difficult to tell what the overarching story arc is in all this when there’s simply so many things going on all at the same time.
Everyone is off in pairs or trios, getting into mischief, getting captured, escaping, getting captured again, escaping, crashing, fighting, losing clothing, thrashing about in mud and then getting captured yet again, but this time by a completely different set of people than the other times! There’s an astounding amount of STUFF crammed into a scant 88 pages, the entire story finally climaxing with a gladiatorial fight, an alien invasion and then it just sort of… ends. Not with a bang, but more of a fizzle. It would seem the author is planning more adventures for Venna but I’m not entirely convinced that another visit to Venna’s Planet is really worth it.
Three books in, and Venna doesn’t really seem all that much closer to winning. One enemy has been traded for another, she and her friends are still on the run, and all their fighting and striving and shenanigans don’t seem to ultimately amount to much. I find it hard to understand why the reader should really care about Venna or her friends. I’m sorry to say that even three books in I struggle to find much of a connection to them or their adventures. Even the last panel before the epilogue, which is meant to be the emotional climax of the story, “I’ve come to realise it doesn’t matter where you are in the universe if you’re with the ones you love” rings hollow when the characters all feel so superficial.
Fans of pulp comics will likely enjoy the campy, retro-scifi aesthetic along with the classic women-in-peril style storytelling but without a real emotional connection to the characters it’s difficult to recommend Venna’s Planet as anything more than a curious throwback to a very different age of comics.
Venna’s Planet is out now from Acorn Books.