Writer’s Commentary: Steven E. De Souza Discusses ‘Sheena: Queen Of The Jungle’ #10 From Dynamite
by Olly MacNamee
Once again we are given an exclusive peek behind the curtain, or over the shoulder of the writer to be more precise, and learn a good deal more about the recent comic, Sheena: Queen of The Jungle #10 from Dynamite Comics. All courtesy of writer Steven E. De Souza, screenwriter of such ’80s classic as Die Hard 2, Commando and 48 hrs.
(+++ WARNING! There may be spoilers herein, so please buy and read the book and then return here for some awesome commentary! +++)
“HE DIDN’T GET OUT OF THE COCKADOODIE CAR!” was Annie Wilkes’ complaint in Stephen King’s Misery, and, while few of us are inclined to forcibly imprison our favorite writers until they finish their latest drafts (although I think my editors at Dynamite have toyed with the idea), I think we can all agree with Annie’s complaint that too many “to be continued” cliffhangers have cheated their audiences when it came to last minute escapes. Well, dear reader, rest assured, even though in Sheena: Queen of the Jungle #9 I locked Sheena, Bob, Ransome and Pete the parrot in that 1948 Buick, welded the doors shut, cut the brakes and sent it over the proverbial cliff, you will find that, unlike Republic Serials, I play fair. and so we find them still stuck in the same awful predicaments: Bob and Ransome are staked out in the rising tide to either drown or confess to their Nazi captors that they’re American spies, Sheena is still served up for a meal to the islanders’ mysterious (and as yet unseen) “Great Maw”, and Pete is still entangled in a thorn bush about to be snacked on by hungry velociraptors (which, by the way, the great Ediano Silva accurately depicts at their paleontologically correct Butterball turkey size, Jurassic Park’s artistic license be damned.)
Bob, Ransome, Sheena and Pete all get a fleeting reprieve from their predicament, thanks to the literary conceit of Chekov’s gun: The admonition from the great Russian playwright that, if a shotgun is depicted hanging over the fireplace of the dacha in Act One with the assurance that it isn’t loaded, it had damn well better be loaded and also go off before the curtain goes down. Well, this story arc was pre-loaded many issues back with Chekov’s machine gun, and multiple rounds are about to go off — but a few of the shots are going to ricochet and make things even worse, starting with —
Chekov’s gun #1: Remember how in #9, Bob desperately tried to convince Kapitan Visser that he, Sheena and Ransome were really time travelers by showing him bootleg DVD’s, including Jaws? A dead battery thwarted that attempt, but since then the U-Boat’s industrious chief engineer has kluged a German 230v to US 115v workaround, jump started Bob’s laptop, and fast forwarded to that 1975 film’s memorable and irrefutable scene that confirms the Allies won World War II, and Bob was telling the truth, and Kapitain Visser finally believes their time-travel story, and releases them from the watery trap!
That’s the good news.
The bad news? Thanks to the movie, Visser realizes the U.S.S. Indianapolis is currently still enroute to Tinian Island with the atomic bomb, and that the Messerschmitt 262 jet plane that’s part of his U-boat’s cargo means the American heavy cruiser just now crossing the Pacific is within range — allowing the Nazis to blow the vessel and its war-ending cargo out of the water before it delivers the bomb, and thus change the course of history! (There’s a lesson here, kids: Don’t bootleg DVDs!)
Chekov’s gun #2: Remember how in #8, when Sheena learned Pete had never delivered her warning that Visser was lying about being a friendly castaway, and sent Yagua and Chim off to find the missing parrot? Well, they did, and just in time, as Yagua’s claws and jaws make short work of the ravenous raptors faster than Pete can sing a sea shanty! (Factoid: Jaguars have the most powerful bite among all the great cats, 1,500 pounds PSI… who says comic books aren’t educational?)
Chekov’s gun #3: The usurper chief thought he’d disarmed Sheena when he stripped her of her knives and bow, but he neglected to rob her of her wits and her push knife, which Sheena completists know is hidden in her belt buckle — so she’s able to free herself from the ropes, and — as a bonus — end the rebel chief’s cruel 24 hour reign with a well-placed throw that triggers —
Chekov’s gun #4, one of the barrier wall’s ballistae (which Ransome pointed out in Sheena #8, for those of you at home keeping score).
Free of her bonds, Sheena finally gets her first look at the island’s apex predator, the aptly-named Great Maw — but will it be the last thing she ever sees?
It is for the chief, who probably thought being shish-kabobbed by his own ballista was as bad as it could get, and whose last words to his island god (“I only live to serve you”) get unfortunately taken quite literally.
With the monster literally on top of them and their leader halfway down its gullet, the remaining rebel warriors’ panic ballistae fire misses its target and they flee for their lives… and, with the appetizer of the chief downed, the great Maw turns hungrily towards the main course, Sheena, who is armed with nothing but her wits and —
Chekov’s gun #4, the legendary Horn of Great Piatiti, passed on to Sheena by the island’s priestess on her deathbed in #8 — but does it really work as claimed, and truly have the power to summon help?
Damn right it does, as all of us who have of course read the 11th-century chanson de gest, The Song of Roland (okay, or maybe seen a rerun of the 1950’s Sheena TV show), because Sheena’s lifelong companions fearlessly charge in, wounding and — more importantly, distracting the giant beast, allowing Sheena to snatch up her weapons, along with a tarpaulin from the barrier wall, which she uses to blindfold the remaining eye Pete hasn’t gouged out from the raging dino!
With a spear shaft jammed into each of its sinuses (that’s gotta hurt!), Sheena has a bird’s-eye view of the island, and a way to steer the raging monster right into…
… Ediano Silva’s kick-ass spectacular double splash page, as Sheena drives the dino right into the Nazi camp just in time to interrupt the firing squad about to execute Bob and Ransome!
Understandably, the U-Boat crew not only adjusts its aim, it brings out the literal big guns —
The U-boat’s deck cannon does what the Chicxulub asteroid could not, and finishes off the king dinosaur — while Visser and the Luftwaffe pilot manage to get the Nazi jet airborne and on its way to finish off the U.S.S. Indianapolis and, along with it, the allied war effort!
And now we finally arrive at Chekov’s gun #5: Remember wayyyy back in Sheena #6, when Bob grumbled about Sheena rushing him into the air before he could replace his wonky fuel injector with the new one, still in its factory packaging? Well, that’s the very same fuel injector Visser surreptitiously stole from Bob’s plane in Sheena #8 while pretending to help with repairs, in order to replace the one on the Nazi jet that was damaged in transit, as seen in the excerpt from the U-2 ship’s log in #9! (try and keep up, people!)
And that’s why, after plugging in his new injector, Bob’s second-hand (or maybe third or fourth hand?), run down, bought-at-auction twin prop-engined 1940’s era Grumman HU-16 Albatross (top speed, 236 mph) is able to catch up with Visser’s spanking new 1940s era twin jet engined ME-262 (top speed, 540 mph…if it had a working fuel injector!).
Er, or maybe — UH-OH? Because Bob’s HU-16 is an unarmed aircraft designed for SAR (search and rescue), and Visser’s ME-262 is a fully armed fighter/bomber, and it’s turning around to knock off the pesky American airplane on its six before it finishes off the American warship on its twelve!
Well aware of the situation, Bob and Ransome take a deep breath, and face the truth: To save the future, they have to make the ultimate sacrifice! Putting aside their long standing feud, the frenemies join both their hands and their voices and begin their suicide run.
Sheena, however, has other plans — and gathering her frankly prehistoric weapons, she takes aim at the pinnacle of Nazi technology and —
It’s auf wiedersehen, Kapitän Visser, and Goodnight, Third Reich!
But what about “hello, 21st century”? Our heroes are out of fuel, and out of options. But Sheena remembers, hey, they didn’t land eighty-odd years back in time — they just appeared. And, this isn’t her first trip on the Time Warp merry-go-round courtesy of Ancient Piatiti’s mysterious antediluvian technology: Those time portals seem to stay put. Does the door swing both ways? The only way to find out — take a direct aim at the spot where they appeared, high on a cliff, where not an “X” but tread marks mark the spot.
Putting hands and hopes together, our heroes rush earthward and — (courtesy of Taylor Esposito’s all but audible fine work) WVVVROOOM and FOOOOM – they make it back to our time, where Ransome can rejoin his little daughter, Bob can thwart Cardwell Industries’ latest nefarious plot, and Sheena can be off to her next exciting adventure at — (checks notes) —
Well, before you cancel your preorders of Sheena’s next arc, readers, all I can tell you is, if you think crazy sh*t goes down at Hogwart’s and Nevermore Academy, wait ’til you see what goes on behind the walls of L’ecole Francais de Jeunes Filles de Val Verde!
Sheena: Queen of The Jungle #10 is out now from Dynamic Comics