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Bettie Page and the island that may or may not be cursed

Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 Cover A by Junggeun Yoon. Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment
Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 Cover A by Junggeun Yoon. Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1
Writer: Karla Pacheco 
Artist: Vincenzo Federici
Cover: Junggeun Yoon
FC  |  32 pages  |  Action/Adventure  |  $3.99  |   Teen+ 

Before Dynamite Entertainment, I didn’t know Bettie Page. An American model whose heyday in the 50s immortalized her as the Queen of Pinups, the real-life Bettie Page was a remarkable woman who became an iconic figure in pop culture.

Which is why I’m happy to meet Bettie through Karla Pacheco’s (Spider-Woman) new series, which is beautifully illustrated by Vincenzo Federici (Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep).

Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 takes place in 1954, giving an alternate history of what would have happened if the starlet had made it big in Hollywood. In an interview with The Beat, Pacheco explained why Bettie remains a relevant icon.

“Bettie Page never received her chance at true stardom. She was abused at so many points of her life, and it’s utterly heartbreaking. I’ll be honest, I was almost hesitant to take on this project because of that. I didn’t want to be light and flippant about someone who’d endured so much. It was only at the end of her life she was even able to reclaim her name and image. But ultimately she did. And while this book is far from an autobiography, I feel like we’re taking a look at what Bettie could have been if she’d been given her chance.”

Spoilers ahead.

The Wizard’s Journey

Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 Cover C by Joseph Michael Linsner. Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment
Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 Cover C by Joseph Michael Linsner. Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Pacheco’s witty prose is certainly a joy to read. She mocks the excesses of Hollywood while making us nostalgic for the magic of Tinseltown in the 50s.

Bettie is lovable, and is also in love with Hollywood. She is determined to do her best in the role that she has landed, despite some snags along the way.

As a bookworm, I’m also amused that the movie they are making is based on a book that parodies one of my favorite literary works.

“The Wizard’s Journey: A Sensual Tropical Production by Harold Fizer.

“When (that British fellow, whatshisname…. Junior Token?) wouldn’t sell Mister Fizer the rights to his latest book, Harold swore he’d make his own version, starring Hollywood’s hottest heartthrob Clive Burbank and the grande dame of cinema, Joan Weathers in a ‘mythical, magical, musical delectation with a cast of thousands!’

“I’m pretty sure Harold never finished the book.”

Bettie’s Pal

Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 Cover D: Riki Le Cotey Cosplay Cover Variant. Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment
Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 Cover D: Riki Le Cotey Cosplay Cover Variant. Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Just as delightful is Bettie’s photographer and assistant, Pal, who is a woman of color. Pal is actually the one narrating, whether in real-time or through entries in her diary.

This tale is also a whodunit. It begins with the discovery of a body, and then flashes back to two days earlier, when they first arrived. Pal, in her dramatic narrative, brings up the possibility that this island is cursed.

Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment
Image credit: Dynamite Entertainment

This issue certainly parodies a lot of things. It’s an over-the-top story that mixes murder and misadventures. The writing is fun and the art is wonderful, and I like Bettie and Pal.

I’m just not sure yet if this will be a good series because this issue seems to be trying to do too many things at once.

Maybe the next issue will give us a clearer picture. And allow Bettie’s personality to shine brighter.

(Editor’s note: This review is based on an advanced review copy provided by Diamond Entertainment. Bettie Page (Vol. 4) #1 shipped on July 15.)

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