Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Starfire #8 Review and *SPOILERS*

The Bermuda Love Triangle
Written By: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art By: Emanuela Lupachino, Mirco Pierfederici, Ray McCarthy, Hi-Fi
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 13, 2016

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

It feels good to return to DC Comics’ beloved orange-skinned Balki Bartokomous. I began reading Starfire with the launch of the DCYou, and got about three or four issues into it, then it drifted away from my pull list. I liked it enough, there was no demonstrative “unpull” moment, I just liked some other comic bookz more and…well, these things happen. Over the last few months, I’ve read Eric’s less than glowing reviews of this title and figured I could probably keep on skipping it, but in the back of my mind was a nagging voice that said, “Reggie, you don’t find Kori’s ‘fish outta water’ shtick nearly as grating as Eric, why don’t you give it a look for yourself?” I answered that nagging voice the way I always deal with nagging voices, which is to jam an icepick into my ear. Then just this week, Eric asked if I would review Starfire. Is that serendipity or what? It’s like this comic book and I were meant to be! Will this be a brief romance that burns brightly and then fizzles out, or a sustained relationship that culminates in this comic book and I eating dinner wordlessly while staring daggers at each other, the scrape of our forks against plates the only sound breaking the monotonous tension? Read on to find out!

Explain It!:

So I haven’t read the last few issues of Starfire, but I was able to piece things together pretty well. Seems like, in the last issue, Grayson stole aboard a dinner cruise where Starfire and her would-be boyfriend Sol were having a date. If Grayson was there, you can bet some bad dudes with some freaky spy tech were milling about as well. Using his special power of kicking the crap out of everyone, Dick got this tech—called the Trigger—and Starfire helped him beat a hasty retreat. She destroys the Trigger because ain’t no peaceful Tamaranians got time for that, and plants a big wet one on Dick Grayson’s pucker. So we pick up this issue right from there, and we can see a couple of horndogs creeping on them from a helicopter. One of them takes a picture of the kiss through a high-powered scope so she can show everyone at school the next day, when some kind of bright light just zips over Dick and Kori’s head and blows the helicopter to smithereens. Our heroes go to save the stalkers…no, wait, they only save the woman who was taking pictures. The pilot either turned mercifully to wall paste when the helicopter exploded, or they decided not to save him because he wasn’t wearing a smart pantsuit ensemble like the woman. Kori grabs the injured lady and takes off from the hospital, Dick hanging on to her ankle like she’s some balloon he won at the carnival.

Cut to Sol donning his Coast Guard hat—I mean that literally, there’s a special uniform complete with hat when you join—and sailing out to the yacht that hosted the dinner party in order to tow it back to shore. He’s with his partner Rave, who keeps telling Sol to drop that fire-haired bitch and get with someone who shares a common interest, namely her. Sol puts her in the friend zone and they head back to dry land. Then there’s a scene where Starfire’s less-weird buddy Atlee is making arrangements with Sol’s sister Sheriff Stella to visit Strata, the underground world from where Atlee originates. Seems like setup for a future story, so I’ll let Future Reggie worry about that.

Back at Kori’s house, we get the requisite shot of her in a towel, fresh out of the shower, and she demands Dick take her to eat pancakes. Grayson points out that she was sort of a bitch to Sol, taking off in the middle of their date to kiss another dude like that, and Kori agrees to smooth things over later. Meanwhile, three very conspicuous dudes in black suits are creeping on Kori and Dick’s breakfast—these two can’t do anything without someone peeping on them—and one of them drops a tracking device in Starfire’s purse but forgets to switch it on. Starfire carries a purse? Doesn’t that get in the way of her fire hair? Kori takes Grayson somewhere romantic: the cemetery where Sol’s wife, who died tragically while on Coast Guard duty, is buried. I thought getting a restraining order after a date was bad, but this takes the cake. I get it, honey, you don’t want to have sex. You don’t need to take me to see corpses to kill the mood.

Somehow, the inept trio scoping Dick and Kori at breakfast show up at the cemetery, thinking they can still get the Trigger. What they get is a blast of green energy from Starfire’s fingertips that knocks out two of them, while a third one that Dick injured writhes in pain. Grayson interrogates him, and though we don’t find out what he learned, it must have been serious because Dick needs to take off. He tells Kori to be a good kid and kisses her on the forehead, then strolls off into the Key West sunset, probably humming “A Kiss is Just a Kiss” to himself. Kori goes back home where Sol is hanging out in the pool with a glowing thing that resembles whatever blew up that helicopter earlier in the book. I don’t know what this thing is, did it come from the Trigger? Is it Kori’s light buddy? I definitely missed something here. Anyway, while Kori and Sol share a kiss in the pool, the sparkling thing begins to transform and we’ll figure it out next issue. I hope.

I thought this comic book was a lot of fun, and really well-drawn by Emanuela Lupachino (with assists.) There was a little too much talking—the conversations between Sol and Rave, and Atlee and Stella are like walls of text—but it moved along at a good clip, and there were some funny moments to punctuate the chatter. For a book I haven’t been reading for a few months, I was able to sink back in with relative ease, with that glowing, sentient light being the only total mystery. But it’s a mystery I wouldn’t mind knowing more about. I don’t know if I can feign total enthusiasm for this book, it’s not so compelling that I’d call it a must-read, but if it’s a choice between spending three bucks on crack cocaine or three bucks on this comic book, then buy Starfire. Your mother and I are worried sick about you.

Bits and Pieces

Really good artwork and a serviceable story make for a pleasant comic book experience. It’s a little uneven between exposition and action, the former taking the lion’s share of pages, but it’s got some enjoyable moments peppered throughout and it was cool to see how Grayson and Starfire relate to each other. If Starfire being na├»ve bothers you, then this comic book will continue to annoy you in that way. But if you like Starfire and her pseudo-dopey ways, then you’ll probably smile while reading this issue.


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