Star #3 Review

by Charles Martin on March 25, 2020

Star #3 Review
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Javier Pina with Filipe Andrade
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

All the dragon's cave stuff from the previous issue disappears in the blink of an eye, landing Star and the Scarlet Witch right back at Alias Investigations. 

Reality warping be like that.

Star excuses herself after a few guardedly-friendly words with Wanda. Her reason for bailing is clear: Captain Marvel has arrived, and the relationship between those two is a marathon-long stretch of bad road.

The issue fills out with private soul-searching for Ripley, strategizing for the all-star hero team opposing her (Carol, Wanda, and Jessica Jones), and a surprising set of scenes that pick up the Black Swan's point of view.

The Swan and Star get into a high-powered tussle which neatly fills the issue's action quota and destroys Ripley's apartment building in the process. But there is no clear victor; the Black Swan's mysterious agenda points in other directions.

This issue's script has a lot of strengths going for it. The plot is complex and packed with intriguing questions to be answered. The character work, especially on Ripley, is terrific. The dialogue is natural and compelling, albeit with one exception: The Black Swan's tone wobbles a little. Is hers the most formal or the most casual voice in the book? It varies from line to line.

But on the whole, Kelly Thompson's writing work is stellar (sorry not sorry for the pun) throughout this issue. Star's thoughts during her flashback to the first arc of Captain Marvel are strong and well-expressed, neatly capturing the basis of her beef with Carol and making it remarkably compelling. 

Captain Marvel may be a hero in her own title, but Ripley has a very different take on her that is -- without in any way contradicting the previous series -- entirely reasonable and sympathetic.

That flashback is where we get our serving of Felipe Andrade's art, which is delightful as ever. His highly organic style doesn't always play well in combination with other artists, but the chronological separation between the flashback and the main story is a perfect excuse for the style shift.

Jesus Aburtov helps out with the relationship between the two artists. His colours draw on the same palette in past and present, but with lower intensity for the flashback. The hues make it clear these are two parts of the same story.

Javier Pina's contemporary art delivers detailed settings (with a few exceptions), dynamic characters, and a smooth visual flow. Most impressive of all, though, is the way Mr. Pina manages to make all of his women expressive in individual ways. Different designs and costumes and colours make it easy to tell the characters apart, but I think even without those props, the subtle differences between Ripley and Wanda and Carol and the Swan (in body language as well as faces) would shine through.

This issue gets all of the players out onto the stage and gives us a clear -- but not complete -- idea of their various motivations. We get a good glance at the conflicts to come, but there's a delicious sense of mystery about exactly how they will play out.

The only real fault I find is one that's nebulous at best. The sudden snapback to reality at the start of #3 makes the cave scenes from #2 feel a little redundant. That's the inevitable result of crafting allegorical scenes, I guess: Once we've grasped their point, they can look simplistic in hindsight. 

(But it's not like #2 becomes any less enjoyable after reading #3 -- that exquisite dialogue between Star and the Scarlet Witch is still completely satisfying!)

Star #3 abruptly ditches the "mystic cave" angle from the previous issue and lays out the protagonist's real-world challenges with admirable efficiency. Great character work in both words and art combine with some intriguing plot twists to keep a tight grip on the reader's interest. This issue sets the stage for an excellent climax, clarifying the players and the stakes without prematurely answering all the questions.

Our Score:


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