- Posted by Johanna on November 27, 2010 at 10:08 am
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
- CREDITS: story by Trina Robbins; art by Cynthia Martin
- PUBLISHER: Moonstone; $3.99 US
I wasn’t expecting much from this private eye comic, especially given the boob-focused photo cover of issue #1. I had heard of the 1965 TV show starring Anne Francis, but all I knew about that was that she wore a black leotard and had a pet ocelot. I thought the revamp of “the first female private detective in popular fiction” was going to be an excuse for pinup poses and a body-part focus.
I was wrong, as I’d have known if I checked the creative credits. There is some of that, but we’re kept aware of Honey as a character, not just a visual. This two-part storyline is all about the female body, but in a playful manner, as I’d expect from comics her-storian Trina Robbins.
Honey is hired by topless singer Mimi Malloy to find out who murdered her accompanist and a waitress. It’s the 60s, so Honey goes undercover as a go-go dancer in a fringed bikini, requiring a nude fitting by a “hippie seamstress” named Velvet. It’s not exactly enlightened, but it has the nudge-nudge-wink-wink charm of the sexism of another age. This kind of “women as men’s entertainment” approach is much easier to take when it’s set 40 years ago and seems quaint. Robbins plays with expectations of the time period. As well as the nightclub, we get an anti-war demonstration and a well-meaning cop friend who thinks “private eye is no job for a girl.”
The clothes are lovely, suitable for the antique setting. The women are attractive, but almost cartoony when emphasizing their exaggerated bodies, thanks to the art of Cynthia Martin. Honey does trade on her looks a lot, relying on people underestimating a blonde “with the body of Marilyn Monroe”, as she’s described. (I wonder if readers realize that that would make her fat by today’s standards?) The setting provides for an environment of female jealousy, leading to a catfight in bathing suits and boots. We also get a shower scene and various characters being slipped hallucinogenic drugs against their will. This isn’t highbrow entertainment, but juicy pulp.
Still, I enjoyed the humor and the mystery. To get a female lead, one often has to put up with reading about a woman judged on her looks and put into these kinds of “undercover” situations. At least it feels like an old-fashioned relic of “cocktail culture” instead of modern-day sleaze. And for every scene where Honey’s rescued by her pet big cat, there’s another where she takes care of herself with judo.
The next three-issue storyline, by Elaine Lee and Ronn Sutton, begins in issue #3, due out next month. In it, “Honey goes undercover on the set of low-budget sci-fi film Amazons of Mars to investigate the mysterious death of Zu Zu Varga, queen of the B-movies.” Sounds like they’re using Honey’s original 60s setting to play with various female pop culture archetypes. I’ll be looking for the next issue. Find out more at Moonstone’s website.