Upon her exit from the “Red Hood & Outlaws” gang, Starfire decides it’s time to do some soul searching, and what better place to do that than Key West, Florida? With the creative geniuses of Harley Quinn at the helm, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti team up with artist Emanuela Lupacchino to give the super heroine a fresh, fun story. Is it good?
Starfire Vol. 1 (DC Comics)
My main problem with Starfire is that the comic is contradictory in nature. The nonsensical events that take place and the simplistic writing themes make Starfire feel like an “all ages” book, but then Conner and Palmiotti slip in their infamous innuendos and sexualized situations which make it anything but a children’s comic book. The pages are text heavy and include some pretty dull conversations, like explaining how tides work. I continually found myself completely unengaged and wanting to skip panels and pages as a whole. As opposed to other heroes’ books, Starfire depicts the heroine’s stimulating lifestyle which includes shopping, social drinking parties, and getting confused about every analogy and sarcastic comment. Fortunately, about halfway through the arc we finally get some much needed action, but the storyline is still saturated with fluff.
Readers had major issues with how Starfire was depicted in Red Hood and the Outlaws, but personally I don’t see how this version is much better. There are multiple unnecessary partial nudity scenes and Kori’s confusion over human language and customs come off as “airheaded” more than being simply uninformed. Wonder Woman has been depicted with a similar disconnect to human ways, but wasn’t taking off her clothes in public or making out with strangers (though that last one is typically inherent to Starfire as a character). I wouldn’t be making a big deal out of this if it wasn’t already an issue to readers, especially with DCU attempting to bring diversity and PC to their series. At least with, dare I say it, Lobdell, Kori’s oversexualization came with some serious ass-kicking. But maybe this is what people want, I just don’t know anymore (*throws up hands momentarily before continuing with the review*).
What I can attest to is the strength and depth of the characters. Palmiotti and Conner do a great job creating realistic characters and then supporting their development throughout the series to the point where their actions seem reasonable and align with their described characteristics. While Starfire is center stage, she’s not the only strong female character depicted, nor the only female hero to make an appearance, and that’s something that can be appreciated. Starfire has been transformed into more of a humanitarian with superhero upside in this first story arc. While the later issues include some battle sequences, Kori mostly saves citizens in the same way your average firefighter would, inspires others through motivational talks, and saves someone’s parrot one time.
Lupacchino and assistant penciller Pierfederici do an amazing job with art. Every character shows so much personality and the Key West environment is packed with detail. The vibrant colors and variation in panel design make it one of the best visual comics DC is currently putting out on shelves. If you are mildly amused by the storyline, the art will be more than enough to keep you on board.
Is It Good?
It’s obvious Starfire is the product of DCU’s plan to diversify their series and add some more lighthearted comedy to their lineup. Personally, I don’t find Starfire to be the most exciting series as a large portion of the issues depict the characters socializing and Kori making cutesy misconceptions. The art is fantastic, but the plotline is too slow. Fans of the old Kori depiction won’t be happy and only about half of those looking for something that promotes female empowerment will be content.