There are two main points I want to make about this book. One is that the writing is a jumbled, convoluted mess; the other is that the artist that is illustrating this comic might be pure genius. It’s these two forces working in opposition to one another that makes this comic one of the toughest reviews I have ever written.
I have to be honest. It’s a trait that I have prided myself on since I started writing for Comic Crusaders, but here my need for honesty may give you an insight into a personal weakness. – I couldn’t make heads or tails of what the hell was going on in this comic. I read it. The comic was in English. I even went back and re-read the issue, but I still couldn’t tell you what the hell was going on outside of this; there was a chase scene that lasted the entire issue- – That’s it! That’s the sum total of my knowledge that I can pass on to fans who might be looking for insight into this comic.
This comic made me seriously wonder if I was losing my shit. I started to doubt myself and second guess if I could write a review for a book like this, and then the answer hit me and everything became clear. This comic is best approached in two parts. Like I stated in the opening, there is the story and then there is the art.
The Story: I understand that Elaine Lee is trying to deliver some highbrow sci-fi here, but instead of reaching the limits of master works like Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo in Slumberland” she came closer to “Flash Gordon” and I mean the campy 1980 film, not the legendary comic strip.
Just read the story summary at the beginning of the issue and see if you can make heads or tails of this mess:
Reunited with Annie, Harry questions Randall and Mary about Guide nappings and Running in Place, while the Guides visit the Gutters to rent a pay-per-blast protection bot from Gyp. But the pay bot is no match for Verloona and only Scooter escapes an awful fate. Harry’s mission has changed, With advice from Jimmy the Snout, he and Annie are off to find Verloona, Save the Guides, and stop droids using RIP to exact revenge. Will they be too late to save the “lucky” Brigader who’s just received a potentially lethal dose?
Did you get all that? This is the first issue of this series that I have picked up and I’ll be damned if I can tell you what the hell is going on! The comic makes no sense to new readers. There is NO point of entry for new comers. Don’t even try! You will be so lost by page five that you’ll feel cheated.
But therein lays the enigma.
You will be compelled to buy this comic. You will be drawn to it like a moth to the flame. You won’t be able to help yourself because once you lay your eyes on the insane artwork of Michael Kaluta you will be hopelessly lost.
Kaluta is one of a rare breed; an artist’s artist. Whose panels are so packed with action and kinetic energy that every panel is a feast for the eyes. There are only a few like this talented illustrator in the entire genre of comics. Gene Ha is one. Geof Darrow is another. It is this genius alone that redeems this comic. Any success that this series has will be the doing of fans interested in the artwork of Kaluta.
Kaluta’s artwork looks like the end result of an acid flashback caught in a fever dream. The dynamic build of panels and pages produce a euphoria that sucks the viewer into the world of the art. There is no room wasted on a page. Every nook and cranny is packed; foreground, mid-ground, background are all at play and each mixes with the other to create scenes so dense and intense that you are unable to look away.
I wish Ms. Lee better luck in her next endeavor and I hope that I see her work again, but I’m betting that Mr. Kaluta will soon become a household name.
Final Score: 2 out of 5 Stars
Starstruck: Old Proldiers Never Die #5
Story: Elaine Lee
Art: Michael Kaluta
Colors: Lee Moyer
Letters: Todd Klein