By Dustin Cabeal
I wasn’t particularly a big fan of the first volume of Star Scouts. I’m always willing to give something I don’t like a second chance because with comics you never know what can happen. I have inadvertently fallen in love with a series as I continued to read it. I have also fallen out of love with a series while being excited about it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t fall in love with Star Scouts: The League of Lasers. If anything, I came away liking this series less as the glaring problems of the first series were not only present in this volume but seemed to be doubled-down on as if to say, this is the only way the story will be told.
The story picks up shortly after the first volume. The Scouts are having a band/meeting at Avani’s house when she receives an invitation to join “The League of Lasers,” which is a sub-group of Star Scouts that only take the best of the best. Avani is transported instantly upon accepting her request, which puts the rest of her friends in a predicament of sorts as her father has just come home. This part of the story proves to be just filler as her father quickly accepts everything and even tags along for an adventure.
At the League’s lounge, Avani runs into Pam again. They still kind of dislike each other even though it seemed like they patched everything up at the end of the first volume. They’re given a challenge of camping/surviving a week with only one tool… sure the tool is a laser producing cellphone device that has a billion things it can do, but that’s the challenge. For some reason, Pam and Avani’s spaceships decide to show off and end up colliding and falling to a planet that hasn’t made contact with aliens.
The clever part is that it’s a bit of a reverse alien landing story. Instead of following the government you follow the aliens. It’s has a b-movie from the 50’s vibe to it in that regard. The downside is that the story spends most of the story setting up the conflicts that will play out, but then resolves them quickly. Even the final sequence which has the girls racing against the clock and throwing caution to the wind ends up being short and anti-climactic.
Then there’s the subplot with Avani’s two Scout friends Mabel, who takes a huge backseat in this volume, and Jen, who actually has a role in this volume. Mabel feels neglected by Avani and jealous of Jen. The two girls figure out their crap too quickly and then Avani kind of craps on Mabel which felt un-needed at that point in the story. The only thing resolved quicker was Avani and her father. Ultimately the pacing dictates the weaknesses, and the strengths of the story and the story spends way too much time setting up the story. The entire opening is drawn out. Avani’s solo adventure on the planet makes you think she’s the only person there and then it switches completely making all the time spent with her “surviving” feel very pointless to the story. It’s the fast reconciliations that unfortunately harm the story the most. The only storyline that didn’t feel cut short was Avani and Pam becoming friends, but then even that was quickly ruined when they felt obligated to not show kindness towards each other.
The artwork is the shining star of the story, but some of the alien designs starting to have a similar design. In particular, the residents of the unexplored planet look a lot like the rest of the adult scout leaders. Otherwise, the linework is very clean, detailed and fits the setting perfectly. The coloring is vibrant and brings the aliens to life. When Avani wakes up and starts exploring the planet, it looks amazing and creative. It’s the best part of the book visually, even if it’s the least important part of the story.
I’m sure there’s an adult reading audience for Star Scouts out there, but it’s not me. The character development feels forced, underdeveloped and though it’s attempting to layer and develop multiple characters, it doesn’t. The story paints a picture that is simply telling someone not to be mad is enough to make them happy, but that’s inaccurate. The story just doesn’t provide the tools for kids and the YA audience to learn anything from this story that seems desperate to convey a moral. It’s unfortunate because it could be a lot of fun but ends up feeling generic and one-dimensional.
Star Scouts: The League of Lasers
First Second Books