The Silver Age of pulp superheroes is back! John Picha's "Pandora Driver: The Origin" is a high-speed chase through a black-and-white landscape of good and evil set in Depression-era America, where angelic farm girl Betty falls from grace and trades her halo for righteous vengeance on the forces of greed and corruption in the glittering lights of Citadel City.
Betty's story is told in stark contrasts as hard times force her family from the farm to the heartless city, and Betty is forced to make ever more desperate choices to keep her crumbling family from falling completely apart. This adventure is a thrill ride, and sexy at times, but leave your fifty shades of gray behind--Betty makes her way in a six-panel, black and white world where Frank Miller would find himself at home, and she's not shy about using her body or her wits to get what she wants.
The storytelling style makes it hard, at times, to really empathize with Betty--we're not taken deep into her character to share her feelings. But make no mistake, the story doesn't suffer for it. Betty is no ordinary girl--she's a superhero in the making, and superheroes are, by necessity, a breed apart. Betty impressed me as a feminist heroine because she was clever and thorough in her plans for justice and vengeance, but she's still a very flawed, intriguing character, and not yet quite comfortable in her superhero role, a matter which I expect to see rectified as the series continues.
Who needs to read this book: Fans of Frank Miller-style graphic novels will find a familiar landscape in the intense, action-packed tale of how Betty finds her power and vengeance as the mysterious Pandora Driver. If you like classic superheroes (with a touch of psychosis) like The Phantom, The Shadow, and the broodier side of Batman, Pandora Driver will find herself a parking spot on your keeper shelf.
Who else needs to read this book: Graphic artists, because this one needs to be at least a 12-issue series, followed up by a graphic-novel omnibus.
(reviewed the day of purchase)