Written by: Mark L. Miller
Art by: Carlos Granda
Colored by: Leonardo Paciarotti
Lettered by: Micah Myers
Published by: Zenoscope
In comic Shops this week!
The Jungle Book 2016 Holiday Special is another entry in Zenoscope’s gender swapping take on Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel. Writer and pop culture critic Mark Millar of Ain’t It Cool News Comics and Horror fame has been the writer spearheading this franchise from its inception. Much like his previous entries in the series, this chapter of his Jungle Book series offers another entertaining episode in the continuing adventures of his female Mowgli.
The Jungle Book isn’t necessarily a property that one would possibly associate with the Holiday season. After all, a series that takes place in a tropical jungle populated with tigers and monkeys doesn’t exactly seem like the appropriate setting for Holiday cheer but Millar pulls an atmospheric twist on the opening of the comic that ensures that Mowgli and company will be able have a snow filled adventure of their own. You see the island that Mowgli inhabits with her animal friends and enemies experiences its first ever snowfall in the pages of The Jungle Book 2016 Holiday Special and it’s an event that sets the island into a panic as soon as the frozen precipitation begins to fall. None of the animals, save one, have ever seen or experienced snow so as soon as the first flakes hit the ground everyone on the island is both fascinated and terrified by the experience. Some of them greet it with the happiness of a child seeing snow for the first time while others see it as the sky literally falling. Mowgli is calmed by her her wise companion/mentor Bagheera (a Panther) who happens to be the only creature on their island who’s ever actually seen snow. Mowgli and Bagheera move to keep the island calm while the snow falls and maintain the peace among some of the more panic striken animal tribes in the jungle.
I’ve always found this version of The Jungle Book to be highly enjoyable and this Holiday Special is no exception.The writing on this series has always been solid but I found this particular issue of The Jungle Book to show some real growth in Millar’s ability to solidify characterization. Each character is a singular creature with a method of behavior and speech all to its own. Millar also has a solid handle on how each character interacts with one another and what their motivations are. You can tell that the writer has put some real thought into how he pieced together his own little part of his Jungle Book mythos and how the characters all interact and play off of one another.
Carlos Granda’s art is also a real draw here. Granda has worked on previous iterations of this Jungle Book with Millar before as well as on their own creator owned book, Pirouette. As far as I’m concerned Granda is a comic book superstar. The art is absolutely fantastic. The panels flow from page to page and the composition and character anatomy are just fantastic. Granda is a big reason to pick up this book as each page is just beautiful to behold. If you like gorgeous art then this is the comic for you. My only criticism would be that it seems as if Granda’s inking is a bit more heavy handed in this comic than it has been in the past with thicker lines than I’ve seen him produce before. It just seems as if in previous work Granda has been a bit more deft with the use of his inks. In this comic the line is strong and hard in places and I was used to seeing a bit more of a delicate technique from him in the past. The bolder line doesn’t detract from the gorgeousness of the artwork, however. If anything it might actually enhance it a bit as it works well with the computer coloring by helping delineate the borders between the hues.
If you’re looking for an interesting Holiday comic this is a book for you. It’s lighthearted and enjoyable and filled with elegant artwork. Strictly speaking, it’s not a Holiday tale in the traditional sense in that it doesn’t involve any actual particular holiday but don’t let that dissuade you from buying the book. It’ll still give you the warm and fuzzy winter seasonal feels that any classic Holiday tale would.