My feelings about Mark Millar’s Starlight #2 can probably be best expressed by the response of this issue’s alien visitor, Krish Moor, who, when asked by main character Duke McQueen why his fellow people of Tantalus don’t come to Earth more regularly, given their new warp-speed capabilities, replies, quite simply, “There’s not a lot to see.” Now, I know it’s a regularly-recurring (to the point of cliché) gag in most sci-fi books and movies that Earth is the butt of cosmic ire-cum-humor, but it also sums up what happens in this issue, which is to say not a whole hell of a lot. That is both disappointing and surprising, given the palpable emotional resonance with which Millar and Parlov were able to paint their first outing together.
In fact, the only new “revelation” this issue brings is that Tantalus is, as expected, under attack from another despotic interstellar race, thanks to the power vacuum left by Duke after defeating its last tyrant, Typhon. You also get to see the older man finally don his admittedly sick-ass retro swashbuckling space gear and get reacclimatized, both to the technology he left those many years ago, and to the state of the planet he left after saving it the first time.
Other than that, however, this issue stood as a recap of stuff that its audience could have either figured out for itself, or have explained in one or two pages. I think, for example, that we can already take it as a given that Duke is an old guy past his prime, who may not necessarily feel up to going on another adventure, despite how his relevance has faded. We don’t need half an issue reminding us of that fact.
We also already knew that he was going to take this “space-boy” up on the offer to relive that youthful sense of adventure. The only things that offered considerable enlightenment besides were Duke’s explanation of why nobody believed him, and the aforementioned threat facing Tantalus. The rest of it just feels like filler, a mentality that also permeates the art from Parlov.
I really enjoyed the look of the first issue of Starlight, but its second felt much more pallid and sloppy, with more than a few pages (especially at the beginning) looking largely rushed and even unfinished. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that this book was out on-time, given how badly other Millar books, like Jupiter’s Legacy, have suffered scheduling snafus, but if it’s at the expense of its look and feel, I’d rather the team take its time.
Like the repetitive writing that slowly melts into a greater sense of fun and adventure, I will say that this issue looks a lot better near the end. In my opinion, however, neither the art nor the writing is a patch on Starlight #1, and that kind of makes me feel like I’ve been suckered in on a book that won’t be as great as its premise or first issue promised.
Saying that, the conceit of this thing - sort of a more fun Tombstone-in-space deal - is still very much alive and can very easily be capitalized upon next issue, which promises the kind of space-based action we’ve been looking forward to since its announcement. Like with most Millar’s stuff, I’m still on-board, but as always seems to be the case with his books, Starlight, like its main character, now teeters on the edge between the bold and the same-old, same-old.
Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Goran Parlov Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 4/2/14 Format: Print/Digital