Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #1 Review

Writer: Sarah Hoyt
Art:  Riccardo Bogani
Colors:  Werner Sanchez
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 1st, 2023

Barbarella’s back in action in Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #1.  It’s high-concept space opera from page 1, as Barbarella (along with her crew of Vix and Taln) become embroiled in an ages-old conflict between The Architects and The Unnamable, two powerful galactic empires who are preparing to escalate their war, which could wipe out the entire galaxy.

If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #1 Review.

The Story

The thing I’ve always loved most about the Barbarella universe is the seemingly infinite variety of exotic alien creatures that Barbarella interacts with as she travels through space.
In Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #1, every page seems to have another eye-popping alien appear and it makes the book feel like a wild kaleidoscope ride of an adventure.  The biggest thing that turned me off about Star Trek (especially the older Trek shows) was that due to budget constraints, aliens were just portrayed with different forehead ridges or random gills added to the actors’ faces.   None of the aliens on those shows ever felt truly alien, but in this Barbarella book, you really feel like you’ve been plunged into deep space where you never know what you’re going to run into next.

The issue primarily focuses on Barbarella being imprisoned by The Architects (who Vix is also a member of).  Vix is hilariously clueless about what’s going on with her as The Architects keep her imprisoned simply because they don’t want her empathic powers and hippie-like desire to spread love to “infect” their society. We get to see Barbarella use her unique powers this issue.  I’ve always found her to be such a unique character because most times, she can just kiss her way out of conflicts.  Of course, she can throw down John Woo-style with two laser pistols too, when necessary, but if you can find a different solution, why not keep those babies holstered until there’s no other choice.

Halfway through the issue, a new character is introduced that looks like it walked out of a fusion of “Alice in Wonderland” and an Ian Fleming James Bond novel.   If you thought the first half of the issue was weird, brace yourself, because the weirdness gets amped up by 100 for the second half and it’s fun as hell, as we get some backstory on this new character, which leads to the craziest escape attempt ever. It’s a rollicking finish to the issue and promises a lot more cosmic action to come.

The Art

Riccardo Bogani and Werner Sanchez’s art on Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #1 fill every page with deliriously eye-popping art. The characters never look posed or stiff.  Many times, Barbarella is drawn in a way that makes her look like she’s forever posing, like a model pausing on a runway instead of a character moving through a story.  But not here, the art is fluid and this universe comes alive with the bold line work and colors.

Final Thoughts

Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #1 gives us a menagerie of bizarre and colorful aliens, the introduction of an equally bizarre new character, and whets the appetite for the next chapter.  If you’re a fan of Barbarella or Heavy Metal-style stories, grab this one up.


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