Soaring out of the pages of Captain Marvel, fan favorite Ripley Ryan gets her own mini-series debut in Star #1. Jesus Aburtov, Filipe Andrade, Clayton Cowles, Javier Pina, and Kelly Thompson team up to bring Star’s first solo adventure in a world that doesn’t really want her to have one.
Kelly Thompson sets the tone right away with the “Birth of a Dragon” title page. The recap of events from Captain Marvel helps welcome any readers who haven’t been following that series and helps set the page. Past the title page, and artists Filipe Andrade and Jesus Aburtov help set the tone. Andrade’s flowing linework gives the flashback/dream sequence an ethereal quality that, combined with Aburtov’s gloomy colors, gives Ripley Ryan a haunting past. When Ripley awakes, Javier Pina takes over the artwork, and the less exaggerated figure work helps sell the initial sequence. It’s a really nice opening to a book that helps introduce the reader both to Ripley and what type of story this is going to be.
Physically disoriented, ashamed of her actions, and without friends, Ripley takes her wandering mind to the Bar with No Name. Writer Kelly Thompson uses captions to help bring Ripley’s voice to the page. There’s a real sadness and weight to Ripley’s thoughts. This feeling is further strengthened by the placement of the captions within the panels. The captions start off higher in the panel and slowly drift lower and lower, until when Ripley is truly lost in her own thoughts, the reader’s eyes are weighed to the bottom of the page. Kudos to Pina and letterer Clayton Cowles for pulling that off.
Of course, the Bar with No Name isn’t the most welcome place for those who aren’t fully set on villainy, and Ripley quickly finds herself in a fight with Titania. Kelly Thompson contrasts Ripley’s inner monologue with her inability to verbally summon her powers, and her lack of verbalized specificity ends up costing her.
Ripley’s journey also brings her into encounters with Loki and Jessica Jones, each of whom react to Ripley in their own way, but each are dismissive of Ripley’s feelings. Pina and Aburtov do a fantastic job with Loki’s first appearance here, with Pina giving Loki a playful “hold onto your butts” expressionism, while Aburtov uses red lighting to highlight not only his actions, but the menace Ripley feels from Loki.
Thompson somehow threads the needle perfectly here in terms of developing the voice of the characters. Loki and Jessica Jones are two characters that can take up a lot of the page with their dialogue. Between Jessica’s cynical wit and Loki’s mischievous nature, there’s always the risk that their voices sound too similar in the reader’s mind if the writer can’t quite get out of one or the other’s speech patterns. This also allows both characters to contrast nicely with Star on the page. Ripley is struggling with verbally controlling her powers as well as with her place in the world, and the confidence and verbosity of Loki and Jessica Jones really helps highlight that.
If there was one place that Star #1 felt lacking, it was unfortunately the final page. Without getting into spoilers, I just don’t feel there was a strong enough hook to make the reader’s mouth water for the next issue. Fortunately, the rest of the issue is solid, and if you liked meeting Ripley in the pages of Captain Marvel, you’ll undoubtedly want to continue her adventures here.