The PopCult Comix Bookshelf

Prison Ship
written by Bruce Jones, drawn by Esteban Maroto
IDW Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-68405-159-5

Hailing from the days when Jim Warren was trying to imitate Heavy Metal Magazine with “adult” content in his comic magazine, 1984, we find a lesser work by two top-rank comics talents.  Prison Ship was written by Bruce Jones, one of my favorite comic book writers (and a damned fine artist), but it’s not his best work. It’s a serviceable sci-fi story with lots of gratuitious nudity and sex, but I came away with the feeling that he either knocked this one out for the paycheck, or it was heavily tampered with after he turned in the script.

Spanish artist, Esteban Maroto, is a legend, and he is one of the finest comics artists in history when it comes to depicting the female form. Prison Ship gives him ample opportunity for this to happen. This is a deluxe hardcover collection of the serialized story, which I don’t believe was ever completely published in English before. The presentation is top-notch, possibly better than the 96-page story deserves.

The story is pretty straightforward space opera stuff. Diana Jacklighter (seen left) is the captain of a ship that’s transporting a group of prisoners in suspended animation to a prison planet. Her ship is stuck by a meteor, and the prisoners wake up and scatter, and it’s her job to round them up or kill them. Along the way, she loses her clothes a lot. When she’s wearing them, they’re very, very tight.

As you may imagine, she becames intimately acquainted with one of the prisoners, and let’s just say that, if they made this into a movie, it would play well in the late-night timeslots on Cinemax.

Aside from the space-boning, there’s also a lot of blasters going off and jumping from planet-to-planet. A subplot comes to the forefront when it is revealed (SPOILER ALERT!) that one of the prisoners has exchanged minds with the newly-elected ultra-conservative president of Earth, and all the space-boning was therefore with a good guy and not a mass-murderer. Whew!

It’s not the most fulfilling of stories, but the attraction here is the art. Maroto does what he does best, draw beautiful women with hardly any clothes on, doing stuff. His work is striking, and any fan of his will want this book, which presents the artwork as it was originally drawn, without the flying talking penis that Jim Warren had added to the finished pages before publication. The book is in black-and-white, just like the original American publication, but as you can see in the page printed below this review it seems a bit sparse, like maybe it was meant to have tones added, or was meant to be colored. Still, Maroto’s art is spectacular.

Prison Ship is not essential reading by any means. Bruce Jones is capable of much better work, and may be embarrassed to have his name on this. Maroto’s art is as good as it always is, and is the major selling point. This is junk-food for the mind, but it’s pretty tasty in places.

You can find or order Prison Ship from comic book shops or booksellers.