In Review: Starfire #2

Quirky action and adventure that's an absolute joy to read. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: The after effects of the hurricane that blew through Key West can be seen on Koriand’r’s face and in the debris behind her. Our heroine looks appropriately dumbstruck with what she’s just endured, and having a parrot — sans feathers on its wings — squawking in her face is probably not helping the situation. Excellent illustration from Amanda Conner and superior colors from Paul Mounts. I’m not a fan of purchasing multiple copies for variant covers, but I would have to make an exception for this issue. The Variant cover is by interior artist Emanuela Lupacchino and Hi-Fi with Starfire spectacularly flying, with her hands held high creating a huge ball of green energy and the flame trail from her hair disturbing two seagulls. This is gorgeous. I have to find this cover. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Hurricane Betty is hitting Key West, Florida, the new home of Starfire. Her best friend, Sheriff Stella Gomez is on the phones trying to make sure everyone is safe, while her brother Sol decides he needs to hit the ocean solo to rescue two honeymooners trapped several miles out on a mid-sized sailboat. Meanwhile, Kori is trying to save the occupants of her mobile home park. She’s successful in saving those who need assistance, but she’s not used to the strength of Betty’s winds and is getting battered about. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s tale has some solid action and a good amount of innocent humor as Kori tries to help all that she can. The “Welcome Guest” on Page 5 is the silliest part of the book. It’s a little over the top, but it’s enjoyable. Sol really gets some character growth in this second issue as he goes into hero mode to save the couple lost on the seas, plus getting some one-on-one attention from the title character. Kori’s dialogue is done in the same stilted manner as she has on Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! I’m still adjusting to this, but I can definitely “hear” her voice and it’s growing on me. I really liked the dialogue in the second panel on Page 14. There’s also the tease of a big foe coming her way, taking the book a little closer to its superhero roots. Conner and Palmiotti accomplish a lot in a quick moving story set during a violent storm. Overall grade: A+

The art: Readers know that they are in a visual treat when the first page grabs them and the hero isn’t even present. The first page opens with two outstanding panels showing the hurricane on the ocean and coming to land, Stella is shown barking orders, and Sol looks resolved that something has to be done to save others. The power of the story on those exterior panels is easily felt, but Pages 2 and 3, a double-paged spread, show it hammering the heroine and two people she’s trying to assist. The rain is blowing at a forty-five degree angle and debris — including a car — is flying about. Looking at Kori’s face it’s easy to see that she won’t accept anything less than success on her mission to help her friends. After depositing them in a safe structure, she blasts off to help others, and her trail is easy to follow, even if she’s being hit by a sign, due to her spectacular flaming hair. I love the way Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy are illustrating this book. Lupacchino is a wonderful illustrator, and I’ve doted on her work in many other books, but I’d really like to draw attention to McCarthy’s inks. Look at how perfectly he thickens the lines around objects that need to be set apart from the carnage of the storm, such as on 2 and 3. This allows the readers to focus on the characters and their plight, rather than have them lost in the madness about them. Water is often cited as a bugaboo of artists, but Lupacchino and McCarthy are drowning it and they make it seem like the easiest element to illustrate. This is as perfect as art can get. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Hi-Fi is the gold standard in comic book coloring. Look at the excellent work they do with blues and greens with the exteriors during the storm. The white rain drops that are flying about the characters look like bullets from Heaven. The bright colors on 2 and 3 are sensational, with bright colors on the supporting characters and not just the lead. The coloring of the flame coming off Kori easily maps for readers where the heroine has been and where she’s headed. The best panel is the first on 18; the storm has ended and the heat coming off the characters is due not just to the illustration, but the warm colors. Excellence abounds! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Tom Napolitano does a lot on this book: sound effects, television transmissions, television graphics, dialogue, scene settings, opening title and credits, chapter titles, yells, a villain’s unique speech, delusional ramblings, narration from Kori, and next issue’s tease. That’s a ton of lettering work, and he succeeds with each change in font. I really like the chapter titles; they are a fun design that reminds me that this is a fun book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Quirky action and adventure that’s an absolute joy to read. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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