Being a fan of Humanoids and Milo Manara I happily thumbed Pandora’s Eyes when it was released, then put it back on the shelf. For some reason I wasn’t ready at the time, but having thoroughly enjoyed The Manara Library Volume 1 I picked this book up at a Boxing Day sale.
Pandora is gorgeous… until her uncontrollable anger makes her eyes piercingly evil. Shortly after therapy has cured her, Pandora is kidnapped and thrown into a crime-filled conspiracy that’s connected to her mysterious past. By legendary cartoonist Milo Manara and Vincenzo Cerami (co-writer of the Oscar award winning LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL).
A straight up cops and villains tale with an innocent girl as bait by Vincenzo Cerami. Pandora is kidnapped and taken to Turkey, supposedly to meet her biological father. He’s a notorious criminal that’s in hiding from Interpol, with the same extreme rage Pandora suffers from. I can see this being a film, having the feel of today’s police dramas. And from that perspective it’s an enjoyable read.
Spoilers ahead. The plot is a good ride. Pandora is kidnapped and told they work for her criminal father, and she’s flown to Turkey and kept in a safehouse where she’s looked after by a grandmother figure. Of course she escapes and almost gets raped, which seems to be a reoccurring theme for Pandora as she wanders around Turkey. Yes she’s young and good looking but is everyone out there hunting single women? Oddly enough for a Manara work there’s no sex in Pandora’s Eyes; we do get to enjoy a lot of memorable character designs and highly expressive faces, especially rage. Gotta love that demonic look in the second panel below.
The story opens with Pandora leaving her last therapy session, her extreme rage issue worked out. We’re next treated to a flashback where she flips out and destroys her room. Later she has two such rage episodes where she’s able to overcome her attackers. Towards the end we learn her biological father suffers from the same rage issue. It’s an odd piece of work, as she could have gotten away from her attackers through other means, and since Pandora doesn’t see him in a rage it’s not a direct link from daughter to father. We find out it was Interpol that kidnapped her in the hopes of luring her father out of hiding. After her escape she gets to meet him and they immediately establish a close relationship. Hmm. He helps her get home and along the way we learn he put her adopted father in a wheelchair during a rage episode.
Another odd bit is the one use of physical comedy in an otherwise very serious work. Pandora encounters a police officer who’s very overweight: his shirt is bursting at the seams and a button pops while she’s talking to him, a second popping and hitting her in the head. Later on our Interpol agent meets the same guy and a button pops into his coffee. It doesn’t fit and feels like a story element left dangling; there really isn’t much room for comedy in this story.
Milo Manara’s art is top notch. He’s a master of expressions, but we’re also treated to beautiful locations and panel backgrounds. Buildings, crumbling walls, scroll work in fireplace columns, venetian blinds: details to enhance the panel and aid in telling the story.
Pandora’s Eyes is a work that reads well but doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. At $20 for sixty four pages with no extras it’s reasonably priced.
Originally published at Comic Book Daily.