Review: Starlight #3

So, I have a little soft spot in my heart for Starlight #3, and not just because I have what may be considered in the medical community an “unhealthy fixation” with Flash Gordon-esque space adventures, well-cuffed boots and quasi-futuristic, retro-finned laser guns. Shit’s my jam, son. But no, that’s not it... Maybe it’s thanks to my own advancing years, heralded by evermore visible streaks of grey and general discontent with “youths,” but I generally love it when old dudes kick the shit out of deserving young’ns. And in this little misadventure, wherein an aging badass named Duke McQueen’s returns to the planet he freed years prior, to once again save it from tyranny, there is a veritable smorgasbord of the stuff.

Finally taking to task the forces of nefarious space-faring baddie, Lord Kingfisher, McQueen spends a good half-dozen pages shooting, cracking skulls and kicking the assembled dicks in the dirt of upstarts who would dare question his true grit. And it’s as stellar as it sounds!

On top of that, we get a further characterization of Duke’s newest nemesis, and I love how callous, apathetic and indeed cartoonishly Merciless he is. He also uses “telekinetic gloves” this issue, seemingly weaponizing “jazz hands” in order to roll an apparently Silly Putty-based gentleman into a doughy ball of death. Nothing about that scene isn’t weird.

I will admit that some of the dialogue is corny and oddly-phrased (“[I’m gonna] stick my toe in your ass!”), and that the new rockabilly Spock character, Wes Adams, feels completely forced and out-of-place. However, for the most part, if you allow its tale of action to wash over you, Starlight #3 is a fun, if innocuous little distraction that is both much better than its previous issue, and much less resonant and intriguing than its first. My real problem with this series, as began to peek its head last time, is the art.

Starlight03-coverSeemingly made up of half-hearted, amorphous con sketches, the art this issue is a further devolution into the increasing visual laziness of the series as a whole, and it’s a damn shame, because Parlov is clearly capable of more.

The vague geometric splashes that constitute the backgrounds notwithstanding, there’s one point where the back of a television is shown, and it’s just a big, flat-black square. The panel in question honestly looks like Saudi Arabia’s secret police got a hold of it for censoring. I mean, you couldn’t have thrown in a few furrows of plastic, or at least a tangle or two of wires? It’s almost like the art here is an afterthought, and that makes me nervous.

I usually defend Millar’s body of work as jaunty, if ofttimes off-color fun, but this project now seems to feed into his certain reputation for “writing to the movie,” like this is really just some big, churched-up storyboard for something Millar and company eventually want to see transformed to celluloid ... or megapixels, or whatever the fuck they shoot on these days. The visual narrative is a byproduct, rather than being part of the creative process, and in a story like this, that’s just really disappointing.

Still, thanks to the old-timey ass beating and general sense of space-based misadventure, I’m much more on-board with this book than I was last time. As I mentioned above, its emotive impact is unfortunately significantly less than its first issue, as I thought, tonally, that’s where this series was going, but I have hopes that it might pick up again. Until then, Starlight seems set for a course of becoming an imperfect but still entertaining space oddity.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Goran Parlov Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 5/14/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital