Review: Blackstar #1

It’s been awhile since my last review, and the latest comic to drop into my Inbox is a superhero title written by Mike Lynch (whom I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews of Lightning Strike #3 and Artos) which goes by the name of Blackstar, and is printed by Abandoned Comics. It’s a story of a kid gaining extraterrestrial superpowers,with art by Trystan Mitchell (for the opening story Origins) and Dwayne Moloney (for the first official chapter Blackstar Book One).

Source: http://www.abandonedcomics.com/store/black-star-issue-1/

Source: http://www.abandonedcomics.com/store/black-star-issue-1/

The comic opens in a flashback to 1970 in New Mexico, where a plain pickup truck driver encounters an alien at a small filling station, using a gas pump to refill some kind of energy core. Despite the alien’s cordial greeting (and his otherwise non-threatening blue sapien features), he nonetheless scares the bejesus out of the driver, who dashes away.  There’s already a secret agent and some soldiers on the alien’s case, so he escapes back to his ship to report back to his captain, but he drops the energy core and accidentally leaves it behind in the hands of his ‘Earth Ape’ pursuers.

Flash forward to the present day, and after some mysterious glowing meteorites/comets explode their way out of a satellite and flying towards Earth, we cut to the main teen characters of the story: Brian, who has just been dumped (we don’t find out exactly why, but so far his ex did it for another man) and Chris, who tries to cheer him up before being interrupted by a small comet hurtling their way. They try to escape it by hiding in a local club, but when the comet comes close to smashing into Chris, Brian shoves him out of the way and takes the impact (hence the source for Brian’s powers).

He later wakes up in hospital with Chris keeping a vigil on him, while the Gardaí investigate the crater left behind. There is an American agent who is also interested in the crash site and having a few words with Brian. The next day, we see Brian’s new powers emerging, such as super strength and the emergence of a white forcefield as he tries to take on the agents attempting to capture him. They swiftly knock Brian out while Chris escapes to find him. Brian meanwhile is secured in a frozen prison to neuter his powers, but the depth of his powers are realised when he looks across at the exact alien’s energy core left behind in the prelude. He breaks free from his prison and takes on a giant bipedal robot before flying away, with the American agents still keen on capturing him.

Again, there are two artists featured in Blackstar, and the style in ‘Origins’ does sort of  touch upon a bright flat 70’s colouring style for its setting, with clean almost retro linework provided by Mitchell. The rest of the comic, drawn by Moloney, looks rather cartoony and ‘indie’ in contrast. But the colouring is particularly very dark on certain pages to blinding white on others, and with the airbrush effect, the characters and backgrounds are painted in the same material. The handwritten lettering is a nice touch but needs to be tighter and neater, style and layout wise. Despite this, Moloney one-ups Mitchell’s character drawings in having more expressive features and character acting.

There are already some plot holes to be addressed aside from gag material, such as an alien using Earth-based fuel to re-energise an extraterrestrial device, the single soldier fainted at the back of the store in front of the alien’s ship while the rest of his troop take the long way through it to catch said alien, why the agent is searching for the aliens and taking their core – which ends up later in the same room Brian’s imprisoned in, and the difference between a prototype fighting robot and a real prototype fighting robot, and why the latter wasn’t sent first if the agents are somewhat aware of what these alien artifices can do. There also is a silent small scene where there’s a nonchalant astronaut watching the power-gifting comet pieces burst through their own satellite, and there’s yet no clue as to how they got there.

The Macguffin core does just enough for Brian to unlock his full powers (and there IS an alien topping up its ‘engine’ at the start with goodness knows how many miles to the gallon – Lynch has a forté in writing witty extraterrestrial stories), and I might be questioning the comic’s logic too hard – Blackstar definitely has a sense of humour, found in more consistent scenes where Brian destroys his garage door and the family car by kicking a football at them in one go. The secret agents featured in Blackstar are aware of the alien’s presence, but their responses are wholly aggressive for reasons not quite known.

Mixing sci-fi with humour is like playing on hard mode in some cases, and reading Blackstar is like wobbling along a tightrope – it could be described as being close to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy but missing the witty narration to sort out the boggling details, whose mystery clashes with the funnier parts of the comic. There’s still a lot to answer yet in Blackstar, and I’m left hoping I haven’t missed some vital information in this first issue.