Starlight is one of the newest series’ from Mark Millar and drawn by Goran Parlov, lovingly drawing influences from classics like Flash Gordon and John Carter. We gave the debut issue a full five stars when it hit a few months ago and although it was Loretta that reviewed it, I’d have certainly given it the same. Starlight opened absolutely fantastically so I’ve been really hoping it can keep up the momentum.
Issue 4 continues the story of Duke McQueen, the elderly human hero of an alien world. After spending decades on Earth and mocked as a liar for his story, Duke has returned to the alien planet which he formally saved and has now seen first-hand how it’s fallen under control of a new dictator. Following last issue’s events, we join Duke and his two allies in a prison cell as his execution nears. I won’t spoil what happens but the issue is filled with the same retro sci-fi goodness as the earlier issues have. There’s some nice character building as well as some action scenes that nicely balance the issue out.
Parlov’s art is swimming with charm. From the grin on a character’s face to the barbaric looking armour of the villains, everything has a real fun vibe to it. As I’ve mentioned the series aesthetically owes a lot to older science fiction which is most notable in the art, the spacesuits for instance are colourful and almost overboard but it all builds towards that 50s space opera feel.
The backdrop is stunningly rich. Casual mentions are thrown in of previous adventures and I’d be happy to see every one explored in its own series. At the same time the creative team cleverly ensure we don’t need any information we don’t already see glimpsed. The backstory to Starlight is implied enough that we understand the scope of what took place and the general idea; the details are left to our imagination, which helps maintain the series’ steady pace.
There are a couple moments in the issue that call back to Duke’s deceased wife. I was genuinely struck by the emotional vulnerability Duke shows whenever he talks about her. Although the series is dipped in crazy science fiction, his relationship feels so incredibly real it’s impossible not to relate to him. It goes a long way to humanise Duke and really make you cheer for him. When the series is wrapped up it’s those quiet moments that are going to stick with me more than the bombastic backdrop. That’s really the core of why I think Starlight is so good, underneath it all it’s a story about a guy that just misses his partner and wants to do something she’d be proud of. It’s the soul of the book that makes it stand out from other action comics and makes it worth reading. I care about Duke, I want him to win not just because he’s fighting for what’s right, but because the guy deserves it.
Starlight #4 is just simply a really fun read. Impeccably engaging, very exciting and touchingly human.