ADVANCE REVIEW: Zodiac Starforce #1

Writer: Kevin Panetta
Artist / Letterer: Paulina Ganucheau
Assistant Colorist: Savanna Ganucheau
Cover Artist: Marguerite Sauvage
Release Date: 08/26/2015

Zodiac Starforce is a title from Dark Horse comics that tells the story of a band of young female heroines –now retired –who make up the namesake squadron of celestial superheroes. Empowered with special abilities by Astra, the young ladies of the Zodiac Starforce (well, most of them) are now trying to live normal lives, to put behind them the trauma and responsibility of protecting the world. Fate seems determined to undermine this plan at every turn, however. A new monster shows up in town. Students go missing or behave strangely. And finally, the girls are forced to band back together in order to save one of their own.

The writing in Zodiac Starforce is not what I would call inherently “bad.” The story itself is not flawed and the world seems fleshed out enough in this first issue. The characters, on the other hand, seem extremely two-dimensional, reduced to gimmicks alone in this issue and treated in a manner feels incredibly out of touch. They act more like caricatures of what someone would imagine teenage girls would act like, as though they were developed by watching Mean Girls on repeat. Introducing multiple characters in a single issue can be tricky, but in my experience the best way to do this is to introduce them as people first, and clichés second. Their interactions feel forced and unnatural and I can only hope this improves as the series continues and is no longer burdened with conveying so much information in a single issue.

The art, on the other hand, is perfect for what this comic is. It is cartoonish to the correct degree, tapping into that same sort of brilliantly bright and colorful palate that has pervaded popular American cartoons in recent years. The characters are visually distinct and the panels and action sequences flow nicely across the pages. There is a softness and lightheartedness that younger audiences are sure to find attractive.

All in all, I can’t recommend Zodiac Starforce just based on this first issue. Perhaps with time it will grow into something more, but until such a time as it begins to develop real characters, that will be difficult. Younger children might find the simplicity easy to grasp onto, but to be honest, I don’t know that much about children! That’s your personal call. If you’re seeking any type of depth however, give this one more time to mature.

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