Starfire #1 was a fantastic debut issue. Conner and Palmiotti did a wonderful job treating the reader to an issue that was pure fun. The writing duo also perfectly nailed Kori’s personality. The excellent understanding of Kori’s character and the emphasis on fun made the last issue such a fun read. I am more than confident that Conner and Palmiotti can continue that trend with Starfire #2. I fully expect another fun read. Let’s do this.
Words: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inks: Ray McCarthy
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Kori flying Boone, Tina and Bertie away from the trailer park. Bertie gets blown away by the hurricane’s winds. Kori quickly flies Tina and Boone to the local high school that is being used as a hurricane shelter. Kori says that she is nearly indestructible and will go back and get Bertie for Tina. Just as Kori finishes saying that she gets smashed by a large piece of metal debris.
Kori gets smashed through the wall of a nearby house. She lands in the home’s bathroom where a man in his underwear wearing goggles and a motorcycle helmet and holding two pugs is sitting in the tub. Kori tells the man that she must get him to safety. That it is no time for him to be taking a bath. The man is a new age hippie wacko who asks Kori if she is the Mistress of the Winds. He says that he has been waiting his entire life for her ever since the Sun Goddess told him about her. Kori is a bit taken aback by the weirdo but still scoops him and his two pugs up and flies them off to the high school.
We cut to the Coast Guard station. Sol says that there is a small sailboat with two honeymooners on it about one mile offshore. Sol says that he is going to go get them. Gabe says that Sol is acting crazy and that they do not even know if the honeymooners are still alive. Sol replies that they also don’t know if the honeymooners are dead. Gabe says he is going to report Sol to their superior officer. Sol says he doesn’t care. Gabe then says that he is going to tell Sol’s sister. Sol yells “Don’t you dare!” (You know what? We all live a little bit in fear of our older sister. I know I still do!) Sol races off in a small Coast Guard boat.
We hop to the Sheriff’s Department. Stella is on the phone with Gabe. Stella is pissed that Sol went out in the hurricane. Stella says that she will be right over to the Coast Guard station. Stella then grabs the keys to the Sheriff Department’s SWAT tank. (Which is actually an armored military vehicle and not a tank.) We see Stella rolling through the hurricane in the SWAT vehicle. She then comes across Kori flying the hippie and his pugs to the high school. Stella asks Kori if she can come with her to help save her brother. Kori says that she will after she drops off the hippie. Suddenly, lightning strikes a power transmission tower and it falls on Stella’ armored vehicle. Starfire uses some precision blasting to blast the tower off of the vehicle without harming the vehicle.
We slide back to the trailer park .We see an old guy running for cover. He comes across a hole in the ground. He peers into it and then falls into it. We then see his bloody clothes being tossed out of the hole. A giant demon then crawls out of the hole. The demon wonders where “she” is. The demon says that he will bring “her skull” back to his “master” in order to appease for his tardiness. The demon then runs off in search of “her.”
We zip back to Kori and Stella in the SWAT vehicle heading to the Coast Guard station. Stella says that her brother doesn’t have her temper but that he is just as stubborn. Kori asks if Sol is as pretty as Stella. Stella responds that he is handsome. Kori spies Bertie outside of the vehicle. Kori tells Stella to stop so she can get the bird. Stella says that they do not have time to stop. Kori says that if Stella doesn’t stop then Kori will blast a hole in the top of Stella’s vehicle and go get the bird. Stella begrudgingly stops the vehicle. Kori flies out and grabs Bertie.
We cut to Kori, Stella and Bertie arriving at the Coast Guard station. Gabe says they have lost communication with Sol but that they have his location. Kori flies off to Sol’s location.
We shift to Sol getting the honeymooners off of their destroyed sailboat and onto his Coast Guard vessel. Suddenly, a massive wave hits the Coast Guard vessel and capsizes it. Sol and the two honeymooners are floating in the water as Kori arrives on the scene. Kori introduces herself to Sol and says that she can only carry two people at a time. Sol tells Kori to take the two honeymooners first and then come back for him. Kori flies off. Sol then says “Orange flying angel girl…names after a tasty herb…jeez I’m either hallucinating or dead…” (Named after a tasty herb! Great line!)
We zip to Kori dropping off the two honeymooners at the Coast Guard station. Kori then zips back off to get Sol. Kori searches for Sol and sees that he has sunk into the water and is starting to drown. Starfire flies into the water and grabs Sol and then carries him into the air.
We cut to Starfire giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Sol. Sol regains consciousness. Sol asks how they got to Dry Tortuga National Park. It is located about 70 miles away from Key West. Starfire says that she lost direction after she rescued Sol and just kept flying until she saw the first land. Sol ask Starfire if she can fly them back to the Coast Guard station. Starfire says that she cannot. That she gets her power from the sun and she needs to sunbathe for a bit and regain her strength.
Sol then goes to the Park Ranger station and radios his Coast Guard station to come pick them up. We zip forward a bit to a Coast Guard ship arriving at the park. Gabe, Rave and Stella are happy to see Sol alive and well. Kori says that she is all recharged and is ready to go back home. Stella replies that going home might be a problem.
We shift to the trailer park and see that it is totally destroyed. Boone gives Kori her backpack and says that it is all that is left. Stella says that she has an apartment over the garage at her house that is full of stuff that she will clean out and let Starfire use. Sol gets angry and says that the apartment is not Stella’s and the stuff in it is not Stella’s, either. Stella said that Kori saved Sol’s life. Sol agrees and apologizes. Stella says that it is time for Sol to move on.
Starfire then points out a large footprint that she found in the trailer park. Starfire says that she is familiar with all of the wildlife on Earth and nothing she knows would make a footprint of that size and shape. End of issue.
The Good: Starfire #2 was another fantastic read. Conner and Palmiotti have gotten off to such a hot start to this title. Now, I will admit that I enjoy Conner and Palmiotti’s work. But, honestly? I never imagined that they would get Starfire cranked up in such a strong fashion so damn quickly! It is impressive, to say the least. Once again, the heart of Starfire #2 is fun. That’s right. Conner and Palmiotti are not treating “fun” like it is a dirty word. Instead, they are flat-out embracing it. And the fun spirit of this title is what is making Starfire such an excellent and unique read.
Starfire #2 is excellently paced which makes it a lively read. Conner and Palmiotti stomp on the accelerator and give this wild roller coaster ride of an issue an excellent flow without it ever being choppy or too rushed. This is a fast-moving issue. Conner and Palmiotti hit the story beats with a quick pace which enables them to get the reader on the edge of their seat for this entire issue. The feeling of tension is cranked up through the pacing of this issue. The reader truly feels that they are in the middle of the hurricane along with the characters. Conner and Palmiotti succeed in pulling the reader deep into the story and firmly keeping their attention until the end.
The plotting continues to be well done. Conner and Palmiotti never lose focus. The story never meanders. Starfire #2 keeps the story moving with a purpose as we wrap up the opening threat of the hurricane and then seamlessly mix in the next threat of the demon that is hunting for Starfire. The new plot line involving the demon is interesting. Conner and Palmiotti tease several mysteries surrounding the demon plotline designed to hook the reader’s interest. The reader is left wondering who the demon is, why the demon is hunting Starfire and the identity of the demon’s “master.” Conner and Palmiotti also blend together two disparate plot lines, Starfire’s desire for a home and Sol’s need to move past his wife’s death, into one new plot line with Starfire moving into the apartment above Stella’s garage. This is an excellent example of organically growing plot lines out of older plot lines in order to create a story that unfolds in a natural and pleasant manner.
Starfire #2 offers up a heaping helping of action. The constant energy of the hurricane and the various obstacles that are thrown at our heroes make this an exciting issue that should appeal to action junkies. However, what is really impressive is how Conner and Palmiotti employ the action scenes in order to perform some fantastic character work. This is not an issue that is packed full of mindless action scenes. Absolutely not.
No, Conner and Palmiotti use the action scenes in order to give the readers an ever greater sense of the personalities of the various characters and their relationships with each other. It is the mark of quality writing when the writer is able to further flesh out the personalities of the characters during the course of action scenes. Conner and Palmiotti succeed in spades in this area with Starfire #2.
All of the characters are well-rounded and nicely developed. The relationships between the characters are strenghtened in this issue. The chemistry between all the characters is excellent. The strong character work serves as the foundation for what Conner and Palmiotti are trying to do on this title. The reader is invested in the characters. The reader is invested in how these characters interact with each other. Everything else springs from that strong foundation.
The dialogue is spot on. The characters have well-developed external voices. The dialogue is delivered with an enjoyable natural flow. Conner and Palmiotti display a fine sense of humor with the dialogue, too. What is appreciated is that Conner and Palmiotti never go overboard with the humor. The dialogue never seems too jokey or forced. Instead, the humor comes across as honest and natural.
I appreciated the fact that Sol received more panel time and experienced more character growth in this issue. Sol gives this title a much-needed positive male character to help the title feel more balanced. This was my sole complaint with Starfire #1. It is great to see Conner and Palmiotti addressing this deficiency in such a quick fashion. Sol’s character is interesting and he has plenty of potential. I like that he is as courageous as his sister, Stella. Conner and Palmiotti certainly convey to the reader that the brother-sister team of Sol and Stella are honorable and selfless heroes.
Of course, it does appear that Conner and Palmiotti are setting Sol up as a potential love interest for Kori at some point down the road. Personally, I will never be okay with anyone other than Dick Grayson being paired up with Kori. But, I know that is never going to happen. So, I hope that Conner and Palmiotti can sell me on a Sol/Kori pairing if that is indeed the direction they are headed.
And Starfire? Damn if Conner and Palmiotti continue to absolutely nail Starfire’s character. They have such an incredible feel for Starfire’s personality and it continues in Starfire #2. Kori is as adorable as ever. But, there is more to Starfire’s than just being cute and sweet. She is also completely fearless and has a heart of a true hero. Conner and Palmiotti are able to get all of these aspects of Kori’s character across to the reader. And that is no easy feat at all.
Many writers would struggle with portraying a character as sweet, adorable and naive as Kori as anything but a shallow bubble headed character. However, Conner and Palmiotti are able to take that aspect of Kori’s personality and not only show how it makes her a person with a good heart but also that her sweet disposition is what forms her moral compass of what is right and wrong. And that Kori’s moral compass serves as the foundation for her heroic nature and her willingness to fearlessly risk herself in order to save and protect innocent lives.
A good example of conveying Kori as sweet but still strong is when Kori tells Stella that she will blow a hole in the roof of Stella’s armored vehicle if she would not stop to let Kori out to go save Bertie. The fact that Kori is so adamant about saving a bird shows her kind heart. Also, the fact that she is willing to blow a hole in the roof shows that even though Kori is sweet she is not going to be deterred from doing what she feels is the right thing to do. And it does not matter if the person standing in her way is someone she likes or not. This scene perfectly encapsulated Kori’s sweet but strong character.
I love that Conner and Palmiotti eschew the current popular trend of delivering a hero that is dark and violent or a hero who is moody and full of angst. That seems to be the prevalent style of hero in DC’s comics at the moment. It is seen on titles like Green Arrow to Aquaman to Deathstroke. Hell, even Superman is written in that style these days.
Starfire stands out as a unique and different take on the super hero genre compared to the rest of DC’s titles. And it is such a welcome change of pace, as well. This title is a small oasis offering nurturing shelter to the comic book fan who feels that DC left them stranded in the desert with the New 52 direction.
There are two wonderful literary tools that Conner and Palmiotti continue to employ in Starfire #2. And I am thrilled that they are doing this. The first literary tool is the use of the titles before each scene. I loved it during the first issue and I still love it now. This is something that needs to become a trademark of Starfire’s title. A stylistic calling card. Again, these titles provide a quick dash of humor that helps the overall tone of the issue. And these titles continue to provide the reader a little preview of what the scene is going to address. More importantly, these titles serve as excellent small bridges that help with the story’s flow and to frame each scene with context of each other.
The second literary tool are Kori’s little “manga” thought bubbles. I call them “manga” because they remind me of manga’s use of images to convey thoughts. These thought bubbles contain cute little cartoon drawings that succinctly and effectively convey Starfire’s naive and literal thoughts. Being an alien to our world, Starfire is a literalist and is not able to understand the double meanings or inferences of the English language. The literalist manner in which Starfire interprets certain English statements are far better conveyed by the little images rather than having her act confused or simply repeating other character’s dialogue in a confused manner. Plus, these image thought bubbles add to the adorableness of Starfire’s character. The best one in this issue was the thought image of a cute thirsty turtle when Sol mentions the name of the park “Dry Tortugas.”
Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy combine to deliver another incredible looking issue. The artwork on Starfire #2 is gorgeous. Lupacchino is the perfect match for a title like Starfire. The facial expressions of all the characters are amazing. The amount of energy and emotion that Lupacchino is able to bring out of Conner and Palmiotti’s script is impressive. There is nobody else other than Lupacchino who I would want to draw this title. Okay, I would take Conner in a second. But, other than Conner, Lupacchino is easily the best artist for this title.
The Bad: I have zero complaints with Starfire #2.
Overall: Starfire #2 was another wonderful read. Starfire is a welcoming fresh summer breeze that washes over the reader whisks away the stench that the New 52 has left on most of DC’s titles. Starfire is easily one of the most unique super hero titles on the market. The emphasis on fun, positivity and honest heroism makes this title stand out among the other super hero titles crowding the shelves at your local comic book store. I would highly recommend buying Starfire #2. This is a title that deserves strong support.