‘Star #2’ Keeps Burning Bright

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Marvel Monday

Star #2 

In Star #2 the new wielder of the Reality Stone struggles to master nascent powers prompting an unexpected and unexplained visit from one of the world’s most dangerous and powerful women. Whether the Scarlet Witch has arrived to help her or destroy her is anyone’s guess. Either way, Marvel’s Star series offers us a close up look at the frightened woman who turned from would-be hero to power-hungry villain in the pages of Captain Marvel.

Calling Ripley Ryan a complicated woman would be an understatement. The ambitious reporter was kidnapped by Nuclear Man, Rescued by Captain Marvel, used as an experiment by Dr. Minerva, and revered as a hero by New York before her incredibly public fall from grace. After being branded a villain for her attempt to kill Captain Marvel (and a large chunk of New York’s citizens) Ripley was rendered powerless and sent to the Raft, an underwater prison created for the sole purpose incarcerating super-powered individuals. Her residency at the Raft was cut short when mysteriously the Reality Stone bonds to her giving her power once more. Star shows us the world from Ripley’s point of view as the bearer of the Reality Stone faces another yet more life defining choices but this time the fate of reality itself may be at stake.

Spoiler Warning: If you have not read Star #1 or #2 There May Be Spoilers Below

Marvel Creative Team: 

Writer: Kelly Thompson,

Artist: Javier Pina

Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov

Cover Artist: Carmen Carnero & Jesus Aburtov

The Story So Far: 

Star #1, Ripley’s escaped from the Raft but with no friends, no job, and running out of money she’s spiraling downward fast. A fight at the bar with no name leads to an encounter with Loki, and by encounter, I mean he tries to steal the Reality Stone and Star torches him.

Out of options and in need of help, Star seeks out Jessica Jones for help. This decision alone is an indication of Ripley’s level of desperation. I don’t know about you, but I always seek help from the best friend of a woman I recently betrayed, framed, and attempted to kill. As expected, Jessica isn’t interested and of course Star tries to use the reality stone to force Jessica to help her. Hmmm great idea… let’s attempt to mind control this super powered woman who has serious issues with mind manipulation. what could go wrong?

Any Jessica Jones fan could have warned Star that Jess would take extreme exception to this but I guess Star just needed a pig to the back of the skull to get the hint. Fortunately, before the two women could commence beating each other to a pulp, the Scarlet Witch appeared to stop them. Wanda it turns out is less concerned with the violence than she is with the fact that Star’s poorly trained powers are doing some very serious damage in a more permanent manner.

Star_2_preview1

Star #2

Wanda knows best 

The bulk of Star #2 focuses on the heart-to-heart chat between Star and the Scarlet Witch but the two are no longer in Jessica Jones’ office – probably much to Jessica’s combined relief and annoyance. Scarlet Witch dragged Star into a creepy cave for some insightful conversation and more than a little spider-demon fighting. The sudden scene shift is jarring for both Star and the readers but Thompson handles the explanation via dialogue keeping the story moving.

Without warning the two ladies are set upon but some faceless nasty arachnid-looking beasties and soon this deadly duo is multi-tasking in a weird combination of demonic insect control and counseling session.

The joint effort between Thompson’s writing and Pina’s art is a well-rounded take no $%&^ Wanda who speaks her piece then listens carefully to Ripley’s self-centered objections and blunt disregard for others. Wanda explains gently the guidance she’s offering isn’t optional and then demonstrates that it’s in Ripley’s self-interested most spectacularly.

Loki wasn’t lying 

“Look you can’t just run around with a Reality Stone in your chest…” Loki tried to reason with Star in the previous issue “People will come for it… for you. Very Very Bad People.” Lately there seem to be more and more moments when the ‘God of Lies’ tells the utter truth. While Star may not have believed him, readers got a peak at just exactly who those very very bad people are in the closing panel of Star #2. I have to admit, I had no idea it would be these particular individuals, but it makes perfect sense.

Star #2 Art & Writing

Kelly Thompson’s Writing 

Kelly Thompson is one of my favorite writers currently working for Marvel. There is so much she writes that sings to my soul and while she doesn’t hit a homer every time, her work is reliably enjoyable and engaging. Thompson’s work with Ripley Ryan thus far is solid offering us a flawed struggling character with a lot of reader connectivity. She’s stuck with power she didn’t ask for after trying to steal a power that wants hers. Whether this series will lead us to Star’s redemption or just give us a deeper understanding of who she is and why is still up in the air but in Thompson’s hands either journey will be worth it. Thompson does a great job catching up readers who may not have seen the Captain Marvel arc without too much of an information dump. She gives us just enough background involving the character through nightmares, flashbacks, and character dialogue so that you understand the push-back Star’s dealing with is very much warranted by her own choices. She also gives us basic ground rules for Star’s Reality Stone-powered abilities and hints at the consequences of her fledgling use of them. Thompson’s Scarlet Witch is already making me smile.

Javier Pina’s Art

Javier Pina’s art across Star #1 and Star #2 demonstrate his clear understanding of the integral role art plays when telling a story in a comic. In Star #1 he makes even the simple bar monologue panels worth a second look. How many of you caught sight of Loki in the background while Ripley was drinking? Did you pick up the shadow standing over Loki’s smoldering corpse a panel before the reveal? Both issues are filled with rich assortment of facial expressions and magnificent action poses. The full-page splash in Star #1 of Loki attempting to steal the Reality Stone is filled with clean bold lines and detail work that breathes life into the scene.

In Star #2 as Scarlet Witch and Star battle an unending horde of spider-esque demons; he keeps the antagonists purposefully understated focusing his talent on bringing the spotlight to the women doing the fighting because the focus of Star #2 surrounds the conversation between the two women. Pina devotes his efforts to supporting the compelling voices Thompson wrote with detailed art that makes how they say something convey almost as much information as the words they choose. It takes a special level of experience to know when to subdue certain aspects of a scene in order to spotlight dialogue, it also takes certain confidence. Pina’s work thus far show he has both.

You realize Pina’s talent has been shining throughout the series as Star #2 comes to a close you see the incredible twist reveal illustrated. Pina doesn’t go in for a flashy transformation sequence or try some gimmicky special-effects. He doesn’t need to because he’s been laying the groundwork for this transition since page seven of Star #1. When the characters are finally revealed is when the pieces suddenly fall in place. You’ll find yourself looking back at the previous anonymous civilians seeing the subtle ties that Pina has deftly woven. it’s a striking moment that can only be achieve through sheer artistic talent.

Star # 2 Issue Rating: 4/5

  • 1 – skip it
  • 2 – borrow from a friend
  • 3 – buy a digital
  • 4 – pick up a physical copy
  • 5 – put it on your pull list

Marvel’s Star Series Recommendation:

So far, this series is holding a spot on my pull list. It got there initially on the strength of my love for Thompson’s work with characters like Jessica Jones, Captain Marvel as well as her work on Mr & Mrs. X. It’s staying there on a potent combination of the strength of the plot, engaging characterization, and well executed artwork. I’m looking forward to the next issue.

Next Issue: Star #3 March 25th

Star #3 is out March 25th from Marvel Comics. I purchased both Star #1 and Star #2 from Krum’s World in Winter Garden, Florida…the same place I purchased Strange Academy. Krum’s World is a small central Florida comic store that runs Magic The Gathering drafts on Fridays, and offers open gaming on Thursday nights. If you are in the neighborhood, check them out.

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