Comic Review: Starlight #1

Starlight #1
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Goran Parlov
Colors by Ive Svorcina
Letters by Marko Šunjić
Cover by John Cassaday & Ive Svorcina, and Goran Parlov
Image Comics
Release Date: March 5, 2014
Cover Price: $2.99

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might that Mark Millar would make more comics like this and spend less time dicking around with Fox’s seemingly endless ability to fuck up every Marvel property they lay their hands on. Yes folks, it’s your ol’ pal Mr. Murphy here to review the MillarWorld’s latest creation: Starlight.

What if you were whisked away to another world where you saved its inhabitants from a tyrannical dictator, rescued the princess, thwarted evil doers, flew around in a classic 1950’s rocket ship and, in general, lived the fantasy that every boy has? Awesome, huh? Now what if you came home to Earth, retold the tales of your heroism, and no one believed you? You then lived your whole life in disgrace, dealing with taunts, jokes, and the constant knowledge that what you did there ultimately didn’t matter. Welcome to the world of Starlight and one Captain Duke McQueen.

I have to admit, when I first started reading Starlight #1, I had to flip back and forth a few times. I thought that the pages were out of order or that I’d missed something. The sudden shifts in time in the beginning are a little jarring, but then again so is combining a 1950’s style rocket hero and a realistic view of the world today, and not just in terms of story but art as well. Gordon Parlov has done a great job in keeping the two worlds distinctly different in both terms of colors and tone, but more about that in a minute.

I want to focus on what Millar has built in Starlight. He’s taken the stereotypical steel-jawed hero and driven him well past his prime…I mean well past his prime. We’re talking to a point where Ric Flair would say “Son, it’s time to hang up your boots.” Millar has given Duke real-life problems (sons who don’t make time for him, wife died of cancer) and sitting in the background is a choice Duke made to leave Tantalus (the world he was whisked away to) and return home to be with his wife and live the normal life of an everyday guy. Then when he returned home he was dismissed as a crackpot lunatic! There is a fantastic panel where Duke is looking at a wall of newspaper clippings in his house that show just how badly people treated him upon his return. How badly must that decision gnaw at him every day? To know that you turned your back on being the hero of an entire world so you could return home and be the laughing stock of everyone and everything you ever knew? That’s a shit sandwich no one should ever have to take a bite of and Duke has had to show down on it every day for almost 30 years. That’s the world Millar has built and it’s one I’m excited to see expand and grow.

Now let’s talk about art, because in this book there is a fantastic contrast between the world of Tantalus and modern day Earth. Tantalus is flashy, full of color and drawn in a way that mirrors the classic imagery brought to life in Flash Gordon, but when things switch back to current time on Earth it’s drawn…well…more realistically — lots of earth tones, drab colors and dark corners. You know, just like our real lives. Crap. Anyway, Goran Parlov has done a great job in creating two separate and distinct styles for the book and those styles live entirely separately right up until the end when… well I’m not going to tell you because that would spoil everything and I know for a fact that Millar employs a full company of Black Ops Ninja Commandos who are charged with not only ensuring he gets a Big Mac every day, but also in silencing online reviewers that would spoil the ending of his books. No, seriously. Look it up. Google Mark Millar Ninja Commandos Big Mac and you’ll see it. Unless of course his Ninja commandos have infiltrated…. I’ve said too much.

My only fear with Starlight is that the movie rights have already been sold to Fox, and does that mean we are seeing a comic book version of a script he’s already developed or has the studio influenced the comic book in order to make it more palatable as a movie? God, I hope not, but then again this is Fox we’re talking about. These are the same folks who thought the best way to depict Deadpool on the big screen was to sew his mouth shut and have swords coming out of his wrists. Yes, I’m still bitter about that and you should be too. So Mark, if you’re reading this or are having it read to you by the Black Ops Ninja Commandos (notice how their mouths aren’t sewed shut?), please tell Fox to keep the material “as is” and don’t let them screw around with the story in order to make it more appealing to mainstream audiences, ok? We’re your target demographic, not soccer moms and frat boys.

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