We have reached the end of the first arc of Brian Wood’s new series, Starve. Does he stick the landing? Is it good?
Starve #5 (Image Comics)
In preparation to read and review this issue, I reread the first four issues to re-familiarize myself with the story and characters, but to also see how the story flowed and how it progressed. To Wood’s credit, the comic was slowly, but efficiently telling Gavin’s story. It was also building up the supporting cast somewhat and it felt like interesting conflict was growing. However, Starve #5 ends up unfortunately fumbling the ball in this conclusion.
The finale to this arc comes across as poorly paced; too fast moving for its own good. The issue itself feels like it took many leaps forward, but not properly developing or progressing the story and characters in ways that make sense. In fact, it felt as if the comic wrapped up most of stories and character arcs by the end of the issue too quickly and cleanly. The situation between Gavin and his ex-wife Geer? Well, she ended up stabbing him on live TV, so she is probably off to jail and the problems she was causing to him and their daughter are being taken with her. The personal conflict between Gavin and Roman sort of ends when Roman leaves the show to become a competitor and he also just becomes more civil towards him (which seems out of nowhere since he never showed a nicer side to him until just this issue). The situation that was sort of brewing between Gavin and his daughter, who was randomly having doubts about him (it came up in the last issue in a poor manner)? Now they are better after talking with each other. None of these conclusions felt natural in how the comic went about them. It came across as being too soon for a lot of these things to happen and that Wood jumped the gun, almost as if he had to rush the rest of the comic because it was getting cancelled or something.
It’s a real shame about the execution of the story and how quickly it went about things, because the writing felt improved overall. The characterization and development of Gavin and his family felt better due to them spending more time with one another and/or getting further insight into their character. I especially like the scenes between him and his daughter, since you could really see how much they care for one another. The dialogue is snappier and things are a lot less forced or heavy on the monologues and exposition. The story flowed well from panel to panel and there’s no bad transition or awkwardness going on. The two negatives the comic had with the writing is that the whole angles about the rich and the poor social classes and how badly the world is are completely gone at this point (no mention of these aspects since the second issue). The other negative is something that has been plaguing the comic since the beginning: Telling more than showing. The comic still tells us about all of these problems involving Gavin or that there is this tension between him and his daughter, but the comic never shows us any of that to make it believable. It’s an annoying weakness that I really hope is fixed in the future.
Finally, we look at Danijel Zeezlj’s artwork, and it remains a mixed bag. The characters look alright, though musculature can look off at times and facial reactions don’t always fit the dialogue or scene that well. Everything is still very murky and dingy looking with the locations and colors used, which fits the tone but not always the location that well. The brief bits of action look static and awkward, and the motion and movement doesn’t appear all that natural. The food itself looks unappetizing; mostly black and brown despite most of it being fresh meat. I get Zeezlj’s style has its appeal and it works at times, but it really doesn’t always fit all that well in this comic.
Is It Good?
Starve #5 closes out the first arc on a disappointing note. While the writing was efficient, the execution of the story and the resolutions within it felt far too rushed and unsatisfying. It felt as if the writer was trying to juggle too much and wrap things up too soon. It’s a shame, since the ideas and areas the comic explored weren’t necessarily bad, but just not fully there. Maybe the second arc will be where things get better, but right now, Starve leaves a bit to be desired.