Starfire #1 is a title that was impossible for me to resist. First, being a huge Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans fan, I love Kori’s character. Second, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are the perfect choice as the writing team for this title. Third, this title looks to be a breath of fresh air among the typically dark and serious 1990’s Image styled New 52 titles that DC has been rolling out for the past several years. And, fourth, I cannot resist a comic with a “#1” on the cover! Let’s hit this review!
Words: Amanda Connor & Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inks: Ray McCarthy
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Starfire meeting with Sheriff Stella Gomez of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department in Key West. (Man, it is hard for me to see “Key West” and not immediately think of the TV show Bloodline. I just finished binge watching it on Netflix. Great show. Kyle Chandler kills it as a detective with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.) Starfire is looking to relocate to Key West and wants to learn to be a normal human with a normal life. Starfire gives Stella a quick rundown of her origin story. Starfire then lists her super powers which include solar starbolts, super strength, super stamina and flight. Stella asks if Kori really can fly. Kori then goes outside the Sheriff’s station and demonstrates her ability to fly.
Stella is amazed and says “Wow. You’re like a big orange Supergirl.” (Fantastic line!) Stella says that she believes Starfire. Starfire asks if Stella will now help her. Stella asks if Starfire has any money. Starfire replies that all she has are some rocks in her backpack from when she travelled to Earth. Stella explains Earth currency to Starfire and how she will need money to pay for her basic life necessities.
We cut to Stella and Kori meeting with a jeweler named Benji. Benji says that one of the stones is an exceptionally nice diamond. He says he does not recognize the other stones. He then adds that two of the “stones” appear to actually be eggs. Benji says he will give Starfire “three big ones” for the diamond. Starfire imagines three cute cartoon elephants. Starfire asks where she should keep the “three big ones.” Stella replies either in Kori’s back pocket or a bank. Starfire imagines her three cute elephants tucked into her bikini shorts. (Starfire is adorable. In a very good way.) Kori says she will use a bank.
Starfire and Stella then drive away. Starfire says that Stella’s name is very pretty. Stella explains that she was named after her grandmother who raised both her and her brother. Stella says that her grandmother passed away from cancer when she was 87. Starfire starts to cry. Starfire says that she knows Stella misses her grandmother every day. This makes Stella start to cry.
We then shift to Stella and Kori at a bar getting some beers to wash away their tears. Stella barks at the male waiter to get her some beers before she shoots him in the knees. (I dig Stella’s character, but this is pushing it.) There is a table with two guys at it. The two guys are ogling Starfire. Starfire sings out “More delicious beer!” (I love Kori.) to the waiter. Stella and Starfire talk about how they need to find a place for Starfire to live. The two guys argue with each other about which one saw Starfire first. One of the guys tells Starfire that she can live with him rent free.
The fresh round of beers are delivered. The two guys then get into a fist fight with each other over Kori. Stella notices the fight and gets up to break it up. Suddenly, Kori fires a starbolt at the guys blowing up their table, making a hole in the floor and scaring them to death. Stella then tells the guys that they are behaving like boys. Kori says “Boys will be boys, right?” Stella harangues the two guys telling them to clean up the mess, then they will pay for whatever needs to be replaced and then they can go home.
Kori and Stella then leave the bar and walk over to a clothing store. Stella says that Kori needs some normal clothes. Kori sees a bikini in a store window and says that she like that. Stella says that Kori needs clothing that does not resemble dental floss. Stella asks Kori if she has ever worn pants.
We shift to the two ladies in a clothing store. Kori is trying on a cute outfit consisting of a small shirt that shows her midriff and a short skirt and a pair of high heels. Javi, the salesman, says that Kori looks beautiful. Stella grumbles that she said Kori needed pants. Javi asks why Kori would ever cover up her beautiful legs and that her skin color is to die for. Stella sighs and tells Kori to pay Javi. Kori proceeds to give Javi all of her money. Stella stops Kori and tells her just to pay just the outfit’s sales price.
Kori and Stella then head over to a place where Kori can stay while she gets on her feet. On the way there, Stella explains that a hurricane is headed toward Key West and it should hit around the same time as high tide. Stella explains that this is bad because it will lead to even more flooding than normal. The ladies then arrive at a trailer park named “Royal Palace Estates.” Kori sees the name and asks “It says “royal.” Is that because I am a princess?” Stella responds “I…um…yeah, sure.”
Stella introduces Kori to Boone and Tina. Tina owns the trailer park and Boone is her grandson. Boone maintains the property for Tina. Kori says that Boone is beautiful. Boone replies that Kori is forward.
Stella goes inside Tina’s trailer to talk to her about giving Kori a place to stay. Kori stays outside with Boone. Inside, Tina agrees to give Lori Nate’s trailer for $200 a week. Stella thanks Tina for her help. Stella and Tina exit the trailer and see Kori playing tonsil hockey with Boone. Boone tells his grandmother that it is okay. That Kori learns languages by kissing people. Stella exclaims that Kori already knows English. Stella asks Kori what she was trying for? Kori replies “More English.” (Ha! Perfect!)
Tina tells Boone to go on and get back to work. Boone leaves. Tina says that it was Boone’s fault not Kori’s. That Boone walks around all day as horny as an alley cat. (Noticing a trend here with all the male characters in this issue.) Tina says that Nate was a proud Jamaican and he even painted the trailer with Jamaica’s national flower. Stella replies that Nate wasn’t Jamaican. He was from Denver. And that the painting is not of a flower. (We see that it is a marijuana leaf. Another hilarious line, by the way.) Kori loves the trailer and agrees to rent it from Tina. Stella then says that she has to head back to the station. That it is going to be a busy night with the hurricane heading to the island.
We zip over to Sol, Stella’s brother, and two of his Coast Guard mates, Raveena and Gabe, aboard their Coast Guard vessel that is docked at a pier. Gabe and Raveena ask Sol if he wants to come with them to get a bite to eat. Sol declines their invitation. Gabe and Raveena exit the vessel. Gabe tells Raveena that she needs to give Sol some space. That he is still carrying around a heavy burden since he lost Maria. Raveena replies that it has been two years. Gabe says that Sol will eventually come around. He just needs someone else in his life to bring him around. We see Sol on the vessel by himself looking at a picture of Maria. He then begins to cry.
We hop back to Kori getting out of her shower. She wraps her towel around her head and then walks out of her trailer naked. Boone is there and is stunned. He tells Kori that she needs to cover her body. Kori asks why since it is just her hair that is wet and in need of a towel. Boone throws another towel around Kori and tells her that they need to get ready for the oncoming storm. Kori slips on her outfit. Boone asks Kori to please help him find Tina’s pet parrot Burtie. Kori spies Burtie in a tree and flies up and gets the parrot.
We zip to Sol on his Coast Guard vessel. He says that the storm is officially a hurricane and that the island needs to be evacuated. Sol radios his sister, Stella, and tells her to start the evacuation now. We cut to Stella at the Sheriff’s department barking out evacuation orders. We hop back to Tina, Boone and Kori all in Tina’s trailer. The hurricane warning klaxon sirens go off. Tina says that they all need to get into the shelter.
Suddenly, the power goes out in Tina’s trailer. They hear a loud “KATHOOM!” Boone says that the sound they just heard was not thunder. The door to the trailer is then ripped off. Starfire walks out of the trailer and looks up into the sky and exclaims “X’Hal!” End of issue.
The Good: Starfire #1 was a breath of fresh air. What a fun read! That’s right, this issue was pure unadulterated fun. Palmiotti and Conner deliver a story that puts a smile on the reader’s face from start to finish. Pure and simple. I love this new direction for Starfire. In a DCU that is overpopulated with vigilantes with seemingly endless amounts of tech and money, government-run task squads and galaxy spanning adventurers it is neat to get a title like Starfire. Here, we get a character who has been a super hero but simply wants to learn how to live like a normal Earthling. This is a neat change of pace compared to the other DC titles on the market. Seeing a character like Kori, who is so alien in every possible way, try to learn Earth’s customs and assimilate into Earth’s culture should provide for some unique and different styled stories from the rest of DC’s titles.
Also, the insertion of Stella as a Sheriff and Sol as a Coast Guard officer is a wise move by Palmiotti and Conner. Stella and Sol’s occupations will serve as convenient literary tools for Palmiotti and Conner to easily and logically insert Kori into various crime solving adventures or large catastrophic events.
I was highly impressed with how well the foundation for this new title was constructed. Palmiotti and Conner do a fine job building a well-developed setting for Kori’s new direction as well as supplying as well-developed cast of supporting characters. It is vital that a debut issue of a new title quickly give the reader a good sense of the setting and the cast of characters. It is difficult to give enough back story on the main character in order to make the debut issue new reader friendly while refraining from giving too much backstory and boring the reader. Throw on top of that task to also develop a nicely textured setting and a full cast of supporting characters? That is extraordinarily difficult and asking a lot of a writer to deliver all in the debut issue.
The vast majority of debut issues of a new title struggle just to deliver the back story of the main character, the mission statement of the title and maybe a hook ending. Rarely do you see the debut issue give back story on the main character, introduce all the supporting characters and a well-developed setting and do it all in a pleasing and enjoyable fashion. But that is exactly what Palmiotti and Conner do with Starfire #1. It is impressive and Palmiotti and Conner deserve all the credit in the world for pulling off such a tough task. After finishing Starfire #1, I took some time to reflect on the well-developed and large cast of supporting characters and the strongly developed setting. It was at that moment that the brilliance of Palmiotti and Conner’s work on this issue really hit me.
Also, I must compliment Palmiotti and Conner for getting Starfire’s back story immediately out of the way in an enjoyable concise manner. They spend all of two pages in the very beginning of the issue delivering Kori’s back story. It is just enough to give new readers a clear sense of Kori’s origin. At the same time, it is short enough that it does not bore long time readers to death. I hate it when debut issues burn so many pages rehashing the main character’s origin story. What makes for a successful debut issue is to effectively and quickly give the back story and then move on! Get to the actual opening story arc and some new action! And that is exactly what Palmiotti and Conner do with Starfire #1. Much appreciated.
I love how the story itself is constructed in this issue. The plotting and pacing are perfect. Palmetto and Conner cover a ton of ground in this issue and introduce plenty of characters. The characters themselves cover a lot of ground and different locations in this issue as well. Amazingly, at no point does the issue every feel rushed or disjointed. The transitions between the different scenes are seamless. And that is impressive considering that this issue is composed of numerous short scene. Usually that leads to a choppy or disjointed read. That is absolutely not the case with Starfire #1.
One literary tool that Palmiotti and Conner employ to give the story a pleasant flow and help with the scene transitions are the humorous concise titles for each new scene. These titles help further the fun vibe of the story and also give the reader a little teaser of what that next scene is going to be about. I hope Palmiotti and Conner keep doing this. This technique fits perfectly with the playful vibe of this title.
Palmiotti and Conner dish up some strong character work on this title. Obviously, Kori and Stella receive the lion’s share of the character development. But, the reader also gets a nice introductory sense of Tina and Sol’s characters, too. Stella has the potential to be a fantastic character as long as Palmiotti and Conner do not go too overboard on the “tough guy” portrayal of Stella’s character. I like her personality and it is well-developed. But, I want to see a but more depth and diversity to her personality rather than just a tough cop.
Palmiotti and Conner absolutely nail Kori’s character. I love how they write her. She is so adorable! This version of Kori si such a massive improvement over the version of Kori that we got in the pages of Red Hood and The Outlaws. Kori is sweet and innocent with a kind heart and a good spirit. She is the kind of hero that is easy to root for.
The dialogue in Starfire #1 is fantastic. Stella and Kori both have unique and well-developed external voices. And there are so many great lines in this issue! Palmiotti and Conner deliver some real gems with the dialogue. I love their humor. Palmiotti and Conner succeed in getting the reader smiling and laughing throughout the issue. The banter between Stell and Kori is simply brilliant. The best part is that all of the humor in the dialogue is wonderfully organic. All of it reads quite naturally. At no point does the humor seem forced, out of character or too jokey.
The result of the good character work and well scripted dialogue is that Palmiotti and Conner are able to generate some excellent chemistry between Stella and Kori in quick fashion. These two characters play so well off of each other. They immediately click and that is something that is often hard to do in just the first issue of a new title.
I liked the hook ending to this issue. I am curious to find out who is attacking our heroine. Palmiotti and Conner delivered enough entertainment and a good enough of a hook ending to get readers excited about the next issue.
Lupacchino and McCarthy combine to deliver some fantastic artwork. The art is a perfect match for the tone of the story. The character expressions are excellent and help to bring Palmiotti and Conner’s story to life in an entertaining fashion. Kori looks sexy and fantastic without veering into the realm of porn. I must admit that prior to this issue I was not familiar with Emanuela Lupacchino’s art. Well, let me say that I certainly am now and I am impressed. Lupacchino’s art has a sooth and slick style that is perfect for the super hero genre. The artwork really is well done and made Starfire #1 a vibrant looking comic book. The colors are also spot on and match the positive and bright vibe of the story.
The Bad: The only downside to Starfire #1 were all the negative stereotypes of males in this issue. As a father of an 11-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy I am not sure I would let them read this comic book. I do not need them seeing nothing but negative stereotypes of males. That all males go crazy over pretty women and turn into knuckle dragging mindless brutes. Or that all males are just horny beasts. Some more positive male characters were needed in this comic. Hopefully, Sol will fill that role and he will get a chance for his character to shine a bit more. Boone also needs to be developed into something other than a bimbo who is horny.
Super hero comic books should primarily target kids and should offer up positive role models. Just like how female characters that do not play to negative stereotypes are needed the same goes for male characters. It is not a zero sum gain when trying to elevate female characters. I am sure some people will read this and roll their eyes. Well, have a couple of kids yourself and then get back to me. You will be amazed how being a parent will drastically change your view of things.
Overall: Starfire #1 was a joy to read. The more I thought about this issue the more I liked it. And after reading this issue a second time I was completely in love with this title. The best way to describe Starfire #1 is playful. Palmiotti and Conner clearly don’t just engage the reader. They do not teach the reader. They do not preach to the reader. No. They play with the reader. Like a couple of kids in a sandbox. And that is something you rarely see these days.
All I can say at this point is go buy this issue! Support this title! Right now! Stop reading this review and run to your nearest local comic book shop and pick up a copy of Starfire #1. Comic books like Starfire #1 are such a refreshing change of pace from most of what DC shovels down our throats. This is a positive, upbeat and fun comic book. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.