PX! Book One: A Girl and Her Panda (Image Comics/Shadowline)

pandaThe creative team behind the hit Sam Noir: Samurai Detective turn to all-ages fare with this brand new graphic novel about a girl and her panda.



168pgs. FC; $15.99

(W: Eric A. Anderson, Manny Trembley; A: Manny Trembley)


When young Dahlia's scientist father is kidnapped by a giant talking goat bent on world domination, she enlists the help of a cybernetic giant panda to help find him. The team is rounded out by Weatherby, an eccentric Victorian secret agent with a penchant for dueling and Wikkity, a roller-skating redneck ronin with atrocious grammar. PX! is just as wacky and over-the-top as this premise promises, and brought to you by Eric A. Anderson and Manny Trembley, who also created Sam Noir, Samurai Detective.


The cover to PX! Book One by Manny Trembley. Click thumbnail for a larger image.PX! started out as a webcomic, and can still be viewed online at http://www.pxcomic.com/. Webcomics are becoming more and more important to the comics industry, and this one joins the ranks of such works as Penny Arcade and Megatokyo in being collected for a printed graphic novel. Some stories fare better than others, however, with a change of format. PX! suffers from pacing flaws that may not have been as obvious when read at only a few pages per week. The characters also lack development, and are mainly carried by their numerous quirks.


The coolest scenes in this first volume of PX! are those in which the panda (aptly named Panda) puts the smackdown on enemies, mostly robots and ninjas. Unfortunately these scenes are a little rushed, and leave the audience craving much more rampaging panda goodness. The story progresses so fast in book format that the reader doesn't have time to get attached to the characters. Reading the story slowly week after week, an audience doesn't need as much back-story and character development as it does when reading a year's worth of comics in one sitting.


In order to enjoy PX!, one simply must not question. A full suspension of disbelief and acceptance of blatant silliness are required. Why are there ninjas? Because ninjas are awesome. Why is a talking goat named Pollo trying to take over the world? Because he's the bad guy. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; fans of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams will find a lot to like in the crazy antics and ridiculous characters. Wikkity's recklessness and gleeful arrogance even calls to mind Zaphod Beeblebrox of Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide series. Perhaps more depth will be given in future volumes, and Anderson and Trembley will dig into their characters with as much enthusiasm as they do their action-packed plot lines.


Fans of Trembley's art in Sam Noir will be delighted with the vibrant and colorful artwork of this book. Many of Image's graphic novels are presented in black and white, the color in PX! is definitely worth the slightly higher price. The coloring is spot-on, and brings the misfit team's adventures to life. Trembley draws from the proud tradition of manga-influenced giant robots and unnaturally large eyes for a very successful effect.


While PX! would not be automatically characterized as a kids' comic, it can safely be placed in the all-ages category. Some of the humor will go over youngsters' heads, but they will appreciate the lighthearted approach and the brilliant illustration. Seriously, who doesn't love pandas? Trembley and Anderson have all the ingredients for a great series here, if they can add depth and tweak some major flaws in upcoming volumes, PX! could become a well-loved story for many readers. | Elizabeth Bolhafner

Check the related links below for a preview of PX! courtesy of Image Comics and Shadowline. For more panda-y goodness, visit http://www.pxcomic.com/!

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