In a text piece at the back of the first issue of Mata Hari writer Emma Beeby talks about how she first learned about the legendary female spy through a biography book titled Femme Fatale: Love, Lies and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari and instantly became fascinated with her. I had a slightly different introduction to the character, with the classic Bally pinball machine from 1978 named after her. I remember seeing the machine and its intricate artwork by Dave Christensen that was just eye catching and full of detail, both on the backglass and the playfield of the machine, and just being blown away. At that point I did not even know was a Mata Hari was but after playing the machine for a while I needed to find out and it was then that I learned about the history of the character.
This first issue gives a lot of information about the Mata Hari, the spying accusations, the famous dancing and more. It jumps around from place to place and time period to time period but somehow all seems to fit in together in a coherent story. It was almost as if Emma was so excited about getting to tell her story that she just kept putting in parts until the issue could contain no more. I would be curious how well the story works if you have no background of the character and what she went through before her death before firing squad, a death that saw her refusing a blindfold and blowing kisses at the soldiers who were preparing to execute her.
Ariela Kristantina provides the artwork and she knocks it out of the park giving Mata Hari both beauty as well as vulnerability in the same panel. Being a period piece she does a good job with the environment, the dress of the French police and more. It was certainly a challenging assignment and one that she obviously took to very passionately. Two talented female comic book creators working on a story of one of the most famous female personalities of all-time in a project that is a labor of love, this my friends shows what makes comic books special as an art form. Good on Dark Horse for green-lighting the project and the creators for pulling it off, here is to the next issue of this five issue mini series.
Mata Hari #1
Dark Horse Comics – $3.99