Advance Review: Starlight #5

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Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Goran Parlov
Colorist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: Marko Sunjic

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Every so often, a comic comes along that reminds us how good comics can be. It reminds us why we continue to collect. And it reminds us why we fell in love with comics in the first place.

Starlight is such a comic.

The story follows an ordinary man named Duke McQueen. Forty years ago, Duke saved the entire universe from a ruthless dictator but, in the present day, he is just an elderly, old man. His wife’s dead, his children live their own lives, and no one believes the tales of his heroic past. But, then, Krish Moor (a twelve year old boy from the planet Tantalus) lands on Earth, asking Duke to join the Resistance. Another ruthless dictator, The Kingfisher, has taken over Tantalus, and the Resistance needs Duke’s help again.

The fifth issue of Starlight is as strong as the previous four. It opens with a flashback scene, explaining why Krish Moor joined the Resistance in the first place. This flashback is effectively Krish’s ‘origin story.’ After this opening, the comic then moves to the present day to show the Resistance (Duke McQueen included) preparing to take on The Kingfisher.

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One of the main strengths of this comic is its characters. For example, due to his child-like optimism and bravery, Krish has become a very likeable character throughout the series. As a result, when the opening scene of #5 sees Krish being mocked by Admiral Pindar (who just oozes evil), it’s very effective at engaging the reader: we can now totally sympathize with Krish’s hatred of The Kingfisher’s regime.

Starlight is beautifully paced and well structured, therefore facilitating character arcs – indeed, it’s great to see Duke McQueen so eager to train Krish in this issue. Duke’s come a long way from the deflated, old man we found in #1, and that’s what I love about Millarworld: as the stories progress, the central characters develop to some degree. There’s a real heart to Millar’s comics, ensuring readers feel a connection to his creations.

Additionally, Starlight reads like a Hollywood movie. There’s enough action and punch-the-air moments to ensure this story will transfer nicely to the big screen, making for an exciting read. And, as with all good movies, there’s some great twists in the story, which keep it moving at a good pace (The main twist was shown at the end of #4. As always, I did not see it coming).

As with previous issues, Parlov’s art is wonderful. The maddened eyes of Admiral Pindar, the steely-determination on Krish’s face, and Duke’s subtle smirks are all wonderfully portrayed, adding to the complexity of Millar’s characters. Parlov also creates a great sense of atmosphere, both when showing the carnage of the hover-car accident, and when displaying the action sequences, with ray guns firing everywhere. Furthermore, the colours contribute to creating a bright and beautiful comic.

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Every sci-fi element depicted (spaceships, ray guns, costumes etc.) have been lifted straight from a 1930s’ Flash Gordon film. Even the name ‘Duke McQueen’ has a Flash-Gordon-feel to it. But this comic doesn’t merely revel in nostalgia – it takes all the silliness of 1930s sci-fi, and grounds it in realism with strong, believable characters. Ultimately, this is an exciting story, with an emotional heart, steeped in nostalgia for old sci-fi serials. I doubt I’m the only one who’ll spend the rest of the week humming ‘Flash – Aaa-aaaah! Saviour of the universe!’

Starlight #5 is out on 13.08.2014 [review]

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