Readers, I’m going to be upfront with you: I’m not a Shatterstar fan. Now, that doesn’t mean I hate the character–I own a few Shatterstar action figures. But when it comes to X-Men characters that get me eXcited, ‘Star’s pretty low on that list. With all that said, I’m an X-Men fan and that means I’m legally obligated to devour anything X, including a five-part Shatterstar mini-series.
As someone reviewing the new Shatterstar: Reality Star trade paperback, I also needed to read this collection with an open mind. While I didn’t love it, there was enough on display throughout to leave me surprised. After all, Shatterstar hasn’t exactly been the most compelling character in Marvel’s current X-Force run. That’s not a problem in Reality Star thanks to writer Tim Seeley, who clearly sees the value in this ’90s creation.
Right away, Seeley tells readers everything they need to know about Shatterstar, who was originally named Gaveedra-7 but now goes by Ben Gaveedra. Oh, and apparently he’s a landlord in Queens. Who knew?
Don’t answer that, Shatterstar fans.
At Manor Crossing, Ben opens his doors to individuals like himself–outcasts from alternate dimensions and possible futures. Yep, ‘Star has a well-rounded supporting cast that includes colorful characters like Pug-Smasher, a superhero pug. While there are certainly heavy moments in this mini-series, it should be obvious this is a more humorous X-Men story with consequences on a much smaller scale. Unless you’re a Shatterstar fan, of course, because the hero’s ex Gringrave and her minions certainly rock Ben’s world by kidnapping his tenants and bringing them to Horus IV, where a bored Grandmaster pits fighters against one another in gladiatorial combat.
Yep! That Grandmaster, of Jeff Goldblum fame. While this mini-series isn’t as simple as “What If Shatterstar was in Thor: Ragnarok,” it’s certainly similar enough to make it all seem a bit stale. The only problem is this story’s nowhere near as fun as Taika Waititi’s inspired masterpiece… even if it has a pug in a cape.
Now, Mojo–one of my least-favorite X-Men villains of all time–isn’t a major player in this mini-series, but his fingerprints are all over it, as Shatterstar is a character who originated in Mojoworld. In my opinion, the X-Books have been way too into Mojo in recent years, which is probably one more reason why Seeley’s plot didn’t have me very excited. On top of that, I’m never a huge fan of alternate reality stuff… so I don’t love knowing that ‘Star’s supporting cast only complicates Marvel’s already complicated universe.
Still, as I mentioned before, there’s enough here to like beyond arena battles (unless you’re into that kind of thing). Seeley does a nice job of making Shatterstar a complex character who doesn’t fully understand the world around him or even his own decisions. Some of this mini-series’ best moments involve Ben’s interactions with his two former lovers–Gringrave and Rictor. ‘Star’s pride in being a landlord throughout the story is also nice and entertaining.
In this collection, we jump back and forth between Shatterstar’s past and present, so having two artists handle these different time periods is a nice touch. The more eXtreme past sequences are illustrated by the always-dynamic Gerardo Sandoval and the visuals definitely reminded me of the types of panels I’d see back in the ’90s. Ben’s more grounded modern life is drawn by Carlos Villa, who does a nice job of showing ‘Star’s mild-mannered alter ego.
I know Shatterstar’s all about those swords, but I think I’d honestly have preferred to read five issues of Ben trying to figure out life without any physical combat. That kind of stuff doesn’t sell, I know, but I think those quieter, charming moments are where this mini-series really shines.
Of course, it’s important to remember–I’m not a Shatterstar fan. I truly believe if you’re a diehard ‘Star fan, or have simply enjoyed this character in the past, you’ll probably get a lot more out of reading this trade than I did. But more casual X-Fans who missed this light read in single issues aren’t missing anything essential to X-Men continuity.