In Review: Starfire #8

This book never disappoints. This is how super hero books should be done.

The covers: How could I not use an image of Dick Grayson and Kori kissing to accompany a review of the book whose cover it graces? Artist Amanda Conner and colorist Paul Mounts give the fans exactly what they want in this perfect image of the couple showing their affection. I love that Koir’s hair continues to look like it’s aflame even when she’s not flying. The coloring is beautiful with its dark colors that are lit up by the warmth in the Tamarian’s locks. Wonderful! The Adult Coloring Book Variant cover is incredible. I snorted when I heard that DC would be doing this theme for some of their books, but darned if artist Dave Taylor hasn’t convinced me that this can be an exceptional format to showcase an artist’s skills. Kori is front and center on this illustration, flying high over the coast of some forested land. Surrounding her are a swarm of humanoid robots that are incredibly detailed. The hero’s hair is swirling about her, making it virtually impossible for a reader to know where it ends and where it begins. I had no intention of picking up any of these variants, but after seeing this cover I might have to go back to my local comic book store and pick it up. A truly beautiful piece of work. Overall grades: Main A and ACB Variant A+

The story: After being reunited last issue, Kori and Dick are smooching on the deck of a ship, unaware that a pair in a distant helicopter want to take them out. The passenger takes out a rifle and aims at the heroes, but there’s a sudden flare up of energy before the vehicle, which smashes into the propeller. All the instruments are disrupted and the entire system goes down. The helicopter plunges into the ocean, breaking up the passionate couple. Kori rescues the shooter from the water and Dick determines that the woman needs to be taken to a hospital. With Kori holding the injured assassin and Dick holding on to his ex’s feet, they make their way to shore. This exciting introduction to “Lovers and Other Dangers” is by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Both writers skillfully weave this tale around Kori and Dick, but also include stories that will lead to future conflicts, such as Sol and his partner’s relationship and Stella and Atlee’s impending trip. It’s the former Titans that have the spotlight for the issue, and just having them sit down and talk over breakfast is fun reading. The give and take between the two is outstanding, with some of their dialogue and reactions being priceless — Dick’s reaction to a statement Kori makes about her phone. For those readers craving action, there’s a good sequence towards the book’s conclusion that firmly establishes the differences between this pair. Yes, I’m one of the those fans who’s been with Koriand’r since she’s first appeared, and as much I’d love to see her and Dick be a couple again, they’ve grown past that point (and, yeah, I know their history has been rebooted). This may be the first time I’ve read a comic where I’m satisfied that a classic couple acknowledges that they won’t ever reunite romantically again. That’s some strong writing, to get a codger like me to let go of a relationship that is ingrained in my head. The ending cements this break and teases something under the water is about to emerge. I loved this. Overall grade: A

The art: The pencils are by Emanuela Lupacchino, with assists by Mirco Pierfederici, and inks by Ray McCarthy. The story allows this trio to show they’ve got the goods in delivering many different visuals. The opening is like something out of a James Bond movie with a high tech helicopter zooming on the heroes’ tiny boat. The top of Page 2 furthers this similarity with the kissers in the killer’s scope. The explosive splash page on 3 is great, with the characters’ reactions to what just crashed out the sky fantastic. Kori’s hair never ceases to delight; I know I’ve gone on and on about it in every review, but it’s just such a cool artistic choice. The page devoted to Sol and Rave’s conversation is constructed of equally sized horizontal panels, allowing readers to focus on them and their shrinking distance from one another. Given what’s occurring behind them, this page echoes classic Hollywood films. The breakfast pages were also great, with Kori so happily upbeat, but it’s Dick’s reaction to something she says that might just be the best panel of the entire issue. The action scene is terrific, showing why those thugs had no idea who they were messing with. Kori’s contribution is outstanding, as this is how I remember her looking in The New Teen Titans. However, Dick’s actions are another thing entirely, and Kori’s reaction to what he’s doing mirrors the reader’s reactions as well, I’m sure. The visuals are this book are top notch. Overall grade: A

The colors: Hi-Fi is the perfect colorist for this title. Florida should be a bright and radiant setting, and with Kori’s skin and hair, she, too, should be as brilliant as the Sunshine State. Even at night, the colors are stellar. The interior of the baddies’ helicopter on the opening page is done in pale red, giving their plot evil undertones. The scope’s point of view is a slick technological green, instantly allowing readers to assume they are seeing night vision. The explosion is fantastic, but look at the cool work done with the heroes in the foreground, whose own colors can’t compete with the destruction. Page 5’s background work would make John Ford envious. “Hello, Goodbye, Hope You Don’t Die. Again.” features some stunning work on Kori in all her states of dress. I particularly love the sky behind the heroes on these pages, which makes me want to revisit Florida. The panel where Kori cuts loose is awesome and Hi-Fi gets to return to a few underwater sequences at which this group excels. Simply awesome work. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, screams, sounds, story’s title, story’s credits, chapter titles, an inscription on a grave, the words of a injured man, narration, a mysterious musical sound, and next issue’s tease are all created by Tom Napolitano. There is such a wide variety of letters on this book, it’s visually stimulating just to see what Napolitano has done. I am completely taken by the chapter titles, which no other book can boast, and the speech from the injured thug is terrific. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This book never disappoints. The story is exciting, fun, and sweet. The art is beautiful and thrilling. The colors are gorgeous. The letters are visually entertaining. This is how super hero books should be done. 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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