As a cartoon, Steven Universe is way smarter and more involving than it has any right to be. Following the adventures of a young boy and his three magical guardians, the show is a funny and exciting piece of children’s TV which has subtly dealt with themes such as racism, gay rights, and even consent. As a comic book series, Steven Universe previously had a 12-issue run of anthology issues, with various writers and artists contributing to each instalment’s set of snappy and short stories. This time, BOOM! Studios have released a new Steven Universe mini-series following a single story for 4-issues. Titled Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems, it’s written by Josceline Fenton and illustrated by Chrystin Garland. So how does the show translate to a longer format? Pretty well actually.
Issue #1 begins as Steven and the Crystal Gems are traveling through the forest on a camping trip. Fans will be pleased to know that every character sounds spot on; Steven is relentlessly optimistic, Amethyst is a goofy glutton, Garnet is stoic but caring and Pearl is as fussy as ever. The story follows the group as they prepare their campsite before settling down to swap ghost stories. All the while the tone of the comic is kept light-hearted throughout, with plenty of jokes from both the dialogue and the visuals.
Speaking of how the issue looks, the artwork is great but it’s a little looser than the source material, which might irk diehard fans a little. But it’s hard to complain when it’s otherwise a very faithful recreation, with Leigh Luna adding soft painted colours to wholesomely spooky scenery and the characters’ amusingly exaggerated expressions.
While the last Steven Universe comic series felt like it suffered somewhat from the tight page count limiting each story, the extra leg room works wonders here. There’s time for little callbacks to different aspects of the source material as well as the immediate sight gags and other fast payoffs. The story itself is straightforward but avoids being bland thanks to the presence of the characters. It’s much more than just winks and nods to the characters’ TV personalities, the dynamic between the group here is endearing and entertaining as the mismatched group all take to camping in different ways.
Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems #1 is an easy recommendation for fans, it’s more of what you already love, except this time it’s on the printed page. Fans of the previous comic series will find a more evenly paced story and a much more balanced presentation, which is good because the inconsistent presentation was the only quibble I had with the previous release. Meanwhile, the comic works just fine as an introduction to the franchise, with its easy-going narrative, friendly tone and great art. It’s also worth mentioning it is of course suitable for children, but it’s also just fine for adult fans who are looking for more Crystal Gem goodness. The premise has translated to the page perfectly.
Ultimately, Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems captures everything that’s so enjoyable and funny about the Cartoon Network show. Fans of all ages will happily find what they’re looking for here.