You can’t read Star Mage yet which is a shame for you, but it is coming. The comic was successfully funded on Kickstarter and actually doubled its goal and the fact that I’ve read the completed edition should show you that this project is on track! The thing I really dug about Star Mage is that it takes a ton of Sci-Fi tropes and adds it to the “chosen one” storyline and finds a way to make it all work. I’ve read other stories that have attempted to mix and match influences, but in sci-fi it becomes painfully obvious what a creator is going for and that usually kills the story. With Star Mage I was able to acknowledge the influences and still just enjoy the read. Holy crap high schoolers have gotten meaner and are far more willing to put another kid in risk of real danger… slash death. We meet Darien Connors as he’s been hog tied to a flag pole and run all the way up to the top. Then we see him open up the universe, say what? From there the story thankfully backtracks so that we can figure out why young Darien was run up the flag pole that was once reserved for clothing and underwear… and flags.
We get a feel for his average day as a pretty girl name Gemma asks him for help in Science. Her ex-boyfriend Tristan is a huge jock and gets violently jealous of Darien, enough to throw a punch at him. Thankfully a rather nerdy teacher is there to intercept the punch, but strangely enough let’s Tristan go without so much as a scolding and even let’s Tristan threaten Darien. I did have a problem with that aspect of the story, but if Tristan was removed from school it wouldn’t put Darien in harm’s way which was needed to move the story forward. I could think of an easy solution to the problem, but hey I’m reviewing the story not writing it.
At this point the issue begins to jump around a bit as we go back to the flagpole for a page and then into Darien’s past. He has a pretty tragic back story as we learn that he’s an orphan and that his father was an astronaut. After the back story we find Darien waiting for Gemma after school only to be jumped by Tristan and his reluctant friends. Tristan is seriously a total shit head. I hated his character, but in a good way. I could have very easily hated him because he was a bad character, but I hate him because he’s a villain through and through.
I really liked the story and I’m not even telling you the best part. The third act of the issue sets up the rest of the series and it’s huge. It’s where the rest of the sci-fi elements come into play. Darien is a relatable character and I liked the fact that he wasn’t the mouthy nerd kid. He’s average in most ways with the exception of being very smart and the power to tap into the universe. When Tristan goes to punch him he doesn’t have a witty come back to slam him with, he puts up his hands and braces for impact. It was an interesting light to show him in because it gives his character somewhere to go with his development. I can think of a ton of comics and movies in which the “loner” kid that no one likes is also super witty and puts jocks in their place even if it gets them beat up. *coughAmazingSpidermancough* Also two words for you: word balloons. That’s right there are word balloons and believe it or not it works in a modern comic still.
For me personally the art was the biggest drawl of this series. The opening page with Darien tied to the flagpole and the universe is phenomenal looking! The character designs were also very strong and guess what? The high school kids actually look as if they belong in high school, both in size proportions and style. The art does a tremendous job of telling the story visually and the emotion on the characters faces are a driving role in that. The expressions can easily set the mood for the page before any of the narrative is read. The coloring plays a huge role in the success of the art as well. It’s not over shadowed and really did a fine job of amplifying the line work.
This was a fun issue pure and simple. I think as far as first issues go it was successful in setting up the backstory and preparing for the real conflict of the series. I’m looking forward to reading more and you should definitely keep an eye out for it once it becomes available. If you backed the Kickstarter project then you made the right choice and will be happy with the final product.
Writer: J.C. De La Torre
Artist: Ray Dillon