In Review: Starfire #4

It's impossible not to smile while reading this book and thinking about it afterwards. Recommended.

The covers: Koriand’r does a quick turn to avoid being caught by the Chida and sets off a blast of energy into the creature’s (off camera) face, as poor Atlee tries to pound her way out of the monster’s left hand. This is a decent action cover by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts. It’s the first cover by the pair to show the title character in action, and Starfire’s at an odd angle: her right legs seems a little off. I do like Atlee and the Chida, though, and the coloring is very strong, especially on Starfire’s hair and the layered blue background. The Variant is the Green Lantern 75th Anniversary cover by Lee Garbett. This has Kori and Hal Jordan back-to-back (okay, left arm-to-right arm) powering up for an energy blast; she with her fist, and he with his hand. I like the art, but the coloring is very dull — it does suit the space environment they’re in, but I want to see this as a bright cover. Overall grades: Main B+ and Green Lantern Variant C+ 

The story: Sheriff Stella Gomez orders two of her team to spread out and get the civilians to safety. “We’re dealing with something I’ve never seen before.” That’s when a car goes flying through the air and crashes into another car. The other two sheriffs start firing at the gigantic creature, with their bullets doing nothing. Starfire zips from the sky telling everyone not to shoot at the creature because “It makes him bigger each time he is hit.” Kori then zips down to save the mascot of Target as Atlee uses her recently revealed super powers to have the ground rise up and wrap around the Chida. After a hurried (and funny) exchange over Atlee not having something to take the beast out, the new hero tells Kori to get five miles over the ocean because she’s going to hurl the creature to her. Starfire is then to continue one hundred and fifty-six miles due west. “When you get there, blast him as much as you can. Over and over.” Quickly understanding what should happen, Kori speeds off. Naturally that’s when the Chida escapes his rocky prison. Using the rocks to smash it down to the ground, Atlee asks why the creature continues to hound her, which has a character surprisingly listen in to the “riveting story.” That was a funny reentrance, and that sums up this fourth issue from the writing team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. They continue to walk the line between complete comedy and drama: just as something seems like it could become silly, something dramatic happens, and when a funny line is given reality steps up and has to be dealt with. It takes strong writing to know how far to go in either direction. This issue also contains the “Short Version” of Atlee’s origin, Chida’s fate, a “Killer On The Loose”, a dip in a pool, and something happening “In A Galaxy, Far, Far Away…” This series continues to impress with how quickly the story moves along, with a good bit of action, which includes set-ups for further stories. I think I know the identity of her “Highness” and am chomping at the bit to see her appear — it can’t be soon enough. This is outstanding storytelling that pleases on many different levels. Overall grade: A+

The art: This issue has four artists contributing to the visuals: Emanuela Lupacchino on pencils, Mirco Pierfederici on pencil assists, and Ray McCarthy & Trevor Scott on inks. You’d think with so many cooks working over this pot it would be spoiled, but that’s not the case. The visuals continue to be some of the best that can be found in any book on the shelves. Things start out well with a lot of action on the first page: characters running, cars flying through the air and then crashing, a tease of the monster, and Kori zipping into the scene. Page 2 shows the creature in its entirety with Atlee in the foreground trying to keep it at bay. Having rocks (the ground) used as a weapon against a foe is a real hit and miss for artists, but whoever was responsible for this image, and the ones that follow, did a great job. The emotions on the characters are good, with them displaying anger, fear, and joy quiet well. The best work is done on the chapter titled “Hugged Out.” On these pages the characters are just having a conversation and their faces add a good emphasis to what they’re saying. The villain that makes brief appearances in the middle and the end of the book looks great, and it’s nice to see a villain who’s not wearing day-glo pajamas in Florida. My only nit is on the opening page with the use of computer manipulation of the art to give motion to something. This looks like bad blue screen from 1970s television. Lupacchino has demonstrated on other books that she’s more than competent in creating movement, so I was disappointed to see this technique employed here and on Page 5. However, the majority of the book’s visuals are tops. Overall grade: A

The colors: The best in the business, Hi-Fi, continues their hot streak on this book. I really like the subtle coloring on Gomez’s uniform; the folds and shadows on her outfit seem much more realistic being faded gray, rather than black. The Chida has beautiful oranges, yellows, and reds which make it stand out against the pale blue sky and browns that try to contain it. The dialogue from this beastie is also colored, fireball red within a black dialogue balloon, and it looks strong, partially due to the colors. Kori’s hair is an instant eye catcher, being so bright and dynamic in every panel. Every characters’ skin has wonderful differentiation in tone due to Hi-Fi’s colors, making them seem more three dimensional. Plus, the water work done with the ocean and the pool is phenomenal. What can’t Hi-Fi do? Overall grade: A+

The letters: Tom Napolitano provides this issue’s text, which includes scene settings, dialogue, a mutter, sounds, story’s title, credits, Chida speak (such a cool design!), chapter headings, Kori narration, a yell of frustration, and next issue’s tease. The variety of fonts is impressive, with the look of Chida’s utterances outstanding, the sounds wonderful, and the chapter headings always creating a positive uplift in me. This is an example of a letterer being a strong contributor to a book’s tone. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Super hero action that maintains the fun and joy associated with this hero. It’s impossible not to smile while reading this book and thinking about it afterwards. Recommended. 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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