In Review: Starfire #3

Having this innocent alien adjust to life in Florida is sweet and funny.

The covers: A tasty twosome to track down and add to your collection. The Regular cover has a monster in the dark behind our heroine, its giant eyes above the title and the outline of its mouth only apparent because of the teeth jutting from it and the slobber creeping out its corners. Starfire has recognized that something is behind her and she powers up her right fist to blast the beast. Good cover from Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts. This is the most typical superhero cover that’s been created by this pair for this series and it has none of the humor that the previous covers have had. It’s fine, but it’s not fun. The Variant cover by Darwyn Cooke, however, is a step in the right direction. Shown standing on a pier, with the beach behind her and the ocean before her and in the background, Kori looks upon something shinning in her hands and smiles. It’s cute, it’s cool, and it’s everything this book should be. A gorgeous violet sky set against dynamic blue water makes this an exceptional cover. Overall grades: Regular B and Variant A+

The story: A man named Soren Hook is rescued by a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. He’s a victim of the hurricane that recently passed through. As he’s eating a deserved meal, a phone call alerts the crew member with him as to what’s been discovered on Hook’s ship. “Damn, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.” As the man pulls his gun on Soren, the rescued man’s eyes begin to glow. He grabs the man by the throat and says, “Don’t fight me. Hand me the weapon. That’s an order.” Confused, the man replies, “Dad? What the…?!” and two bloody gunshots show the conversation has ended. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s tale “By Land and by Sea” transitions to Key West, where Kori is rescuing some small victims of the hurricane. She’s assisting Sol Gomez in his backyard, and learning about cats and Hemingway. She then sees where she’s now going to be living. In her joy for her new surroundings she unintentionally makes Sol feel awkward. A two page interlude hints at upcoming danger, another two pages introduces some new characters, and then Stella calls Kori to help her out with a familiar ship that’s arrived sans crew. The dialogue on this book continues to be tops, deftly walking the line between humor and heart as Starfire becomes involved with a gigantic beast. The incident that occurs at the location introduced on Page 16 was really funny. The final page has a sweet “HUH?!” moment that will lead into some major heroics next issue. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Emanuela Lupacchino’s pencils and Ray McCarthy’s inks are nothing short of spectacular. The splash page on 3 is a terrific way to introduce the book’s lead and she looks sensational: she looks strong, beautiful, and is obviously happy with what she’s doing. The characters she’s rescuing look just as pleased. Lupacchino has a lot of dialogue and a lot of actions to contend with on Page 4 but she’s such a pro she’s able to move her point of view around to keep the movements of the characters fluid and allow all the discourse to occur. I love the two vertical panels on this page; there’s so much stated, but a story is told just with the visuals, plus that cat cracked me up. I’m also still impressed with the flame trail that she leaves as she moves quickly. For someone who’s so ingrained with George Perez’s iconic take on this character, to have another artist’s version of this character ease so effortless into my mind is impressive. This is a good point to call attention to McCarthy’s inks. An inker has to make the determination as to what elements from the artist’s pencils should be the focus for the reader. Page 5’s last two panels shows how he does this almost invisibly: Kori and Sol have a slightly heavier outline around their bodies to make them stand out against the setting. If McCarthy had the pair done with the same line as the furniture behind them they wouldn’t appear nearer to the reader. The final panel on the page has the lead barely popping her head into the previous panel. To provide a smoother visual transition to that final panel, she’s got an even heavier line around her to draw attention. This is a solid example of how inkers work their subtle magic. Other highlights of the book include the two page “Everything Must Eat”, those encountered in the Blue Monkey, and the final page’s glorious reveal. Lupacchino and McCarthy are the dynamic duo of illustration. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I’ve come to the point in reviewing that certain contributors to comics have made it difficult to write about. There are only so many times and ways that I can say “I love this work” and find some sort of adjective that will correctly state how spectacular their work is. Hi-Fi is one of those contributors. I’ve never seen anything less than A+ work from them. The blues and whites on Page 3, the shading of faces on Page 6, everyone’s hair, the skin showing on 7 and 8, Stella on every page, the violets on the final page, and the slight lightening done whenever Kori thinks an image shows their immeasurable talent. If this group doesn’t have a motto, it should be “Yeah, we’re that good.” And they always are. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, yells, a beautiful story title (that captures the location), opening credits, narration, chapter titles, sounds, labels, a scream, villainous speech, and next issue’s tease are all created by Tom Napolitano. The sounds are great, especially when two people fall before (“below”?) the monster, but I really like the story’s beautiful title on Page 4. It instantly took me into this story’s setting and it’s fun. This title helped set the mood of the book. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Having this innocent alien adjust to life in Florida is sweet and funny. This is so good, I don’t need monsters. I’m perfectly content with her encountering the citizens of Key West. 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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