Star #2 Review

by Charles Martin on February 26, 2020

Star #2 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Javier Pina with Filipe Andrade
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

When constrained to the five issues of a miniseries, smart comics creators prioritize their storytelling attention and chop out narrative fluff wherever possible.

Star #2 opens with a great example of that principle in action. The story leaps straight to the next important scene: Scarlet Witch dragging Star into a creepy cave for some insightful talk and a demon-fighting dragon hunt. The jump is even more jarring for Star than the reader, providing a handy opportunity to smooth out the transition in dialogue.

The full conversation between the two women is this issue's great strength. Kelly Thompson gives them both compelling voices and tucks important characterization into what they say and how they say it. 

Wanda does an impressive job of listening to Ripley, digesting her objections to the guidance the Witch is offering and then re-aligning her ideas to appeal to Ripley's self-interested point of view.

While the chat is going on, the women are fighting some generic insectoid demons in their search for Wanda's dragon. The script handles this conflict better than the art, letting Wanda score some key points by tying the conflict of the moment to the larger ideas she's offering to Star. 

Both the setting and the demons look vague. Colourist Jesus Aburtov does a mighty job adding as much visual interest as he can with the palette. Heavy shadows, torchlight, and superpowers all combine to give depth to scenes that otherwise risk coming across as flat.

And I don't want to suggest that artist Javier Pina is letting the team down here. If his setting and antagonists lack memorability, his character work on the protagonists makes it clear where his priorities are. He delivers some more magnificently expressive faces and excellent action poses.

"Scarlet Witch and Star in the demon cave" is ultimately an allegorical scene, and artistic effort is being conserved to reinforce the allegory. The demons and the cave aren't half as important as the women and their conversation.

Ms. Thompson's script does incredible character work for both of its reality-warping leads. I already spoke admiringly of the insight and flexibility bestowed on Wanda; it's an excellent rendition of a very complicated character. Star is no slouch herself, though. There's a constant tension between fear and pride vibrating through practically everything she says.

This issue also has a few critical scenes outside the cave, and they're pretty artistically formidable. Flashback artist Filipe Andrade illustrates a couple of pages of Ripley's experiences on Roosevelt Island. The contrast between the two artist's takes on Ripley feeds nicely into the idea that she's experienced vast changes between the two time frames.

And Star #2 delivers a critical, transformative revelation about the pack of random civilians who have been shadowing Star. They are, of course, not just random civilians -- but the twist is far too satisfying for me to fully spoil it here. 

Javier Pina does an incredible job illustrating the twist. There is no flashy transformation sequence. But I look at the characters revealed and then look back at the civilians and I cuss admiringly as big flashbulbs go off. There are incredible, subtle ties between the two sets of designs. Mr. Pina lends a potentially-gimmicky revelation a hefty amount of believability through sheer artistic effort.

Star #2 delivers powerfully on the heart-to-heart between novice reality-warper Star and the veteran Scarlet Witch. The art does better with the characters than the mostly-symbolic action they're engaged in, but that suits an introspective episode like this. We learn plenty about Star -- and an excellent twist unveils some serious antagonism she'll soon be facing.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
While writing this review, I got irrationally paranoid about using "Scarlet Witch" and "Wanda" interchangeably. Those are the same person -- just in case you emerged from a Marvel-free alternate universe and decided your first act should be reading a review of the second issue of a Marvel comic.