Monday, May 22, 2017

Starfire: Welcome Home (comics)

Writers: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
Collects: DC Sneak Peek: Starfire #1, Starfire #1-6

With the DC You initiative, we've reached the point where all of the notable New Teen Titans everyone remembers - who aren't sidekicks past or present, of course - have had at least a miniseries. Cyborg got his first as well, which must have done alright, since he got a relaunch with Rebirth. Starfire did not. It's unfortunate, because I really like this book.

On the surface, it isn't anything super special. There aren't any grandiose adventures going on here. No big overarching plot that will run for dozens of issues and define a run or anything. In fact, it's downright simple. Starfire realizes she's been doing nothing but superheroics since she arrived and wants to have all the other aspects of a normal life on Earth, so she decides to strike out on her own. She solicits advice from Superman, a guy who obviously knows a thing or two about living on an adopted home planet, and based on it, decides to move to Key West, Florida. It's as much slice of life and figuring out how to live and make friends as it is about Starfire helping in a tropical storm or fighting a monster.

Even so, it's very endearing. At least part of that comes down to Starfire herself. They've pulled some cues from her characterization in the old Teen Titans cartoon from 2003-2006. I've always been a little cold on that series for a variety of reasons, so it rubbed me the wrong way initially. Starfire, to me, has always been an emotional person, but also strong willed and intelligent. The cartoon version of her, as a character, nailed the emotional aspect but didn't always get the intelligence part. This Starfire takes in some of that versions naivete, but it's clear that it's just a matter of not understanding different things and taking others a bit too literally. This is occasionally shown by thought balloons that illustrate things like letting dogs off a leash when someone uses the phrase "release the hounds" when referring to her tendency to show off a lot of her breasts, for example. Think the old Impulse series, or Young Justice. It toes the line well without making the character seem like an idiot.

Starfire is just likable, making it easy to care as she goes about making a life in Key West, making friends and integrating herself in the area. Her sexuality, long a part of the character, isn't forgotten, but doesn't feel exploited for sex appeal quite as much as it has in the past. If anything, it's mined for jokes, with people exasperated at her unwitting tendency toward showing a bit more skin than she should. The cast she's surrounded with is just as easy to like. They're not characters you'll go telling everyone about the next day, but you'll enjoy seeing her interact with the Sheriff, Sol and even the most recent Terra.

Speaking of which, the writers decided to do a little continuity patchwork here, keeping the pre-Flashpoint history of Terra III intact, Power Girl friendship included. I don't think this poses any timeline problems and seems like it slots in nicely, even, with what little I've read of the New 52 Power Girl. Even if it didn't, the New 52 era only had, like, a year left at this point anyway before Rebirth came along and did the same "re-establish old continuity people liked" business, so who cares?

The artwork more than holds up its end of the bargain as well. It's clean and detailed without being overdrawn, which could be an issue with some New 52 era comics. Even better, it's very expressive, with even bit characters you might never see again getting varied facial expressions and reactions to what's going on. It reminds me at times of Kevin Maguire. Adding to the entire package is the coloring, which is one of my favorites in recent memory. The colors chosen throughout the book are bright and cheery, perfect for Starfire and her surroundings. I'm a bit of a sucker for bright colors, especially given they're so rare in recent days, so getting it here worked wonders for me.

By the way, the costume redesign they give her for this book is probably the best one she's ever had and it's a shame she doesn't get to keep it. Her Rebirth outfit covers a bit more skin - the midriff - but isn't as aesthetically pleasing, with a lot of white over the chest and midriff area clashing with her traditionally associated purple. That on top of the always strange addition of heels to her thigh high boots. It's weird. They should have stuck with this.

It's unfortunate that there's only one volume of this left, because I could read about a book like this for a good, long while. Regardless, I'm glad it exists. It doesn't affect continuity in a major fashion, it doesn't change anyone forever and it's sadly not a book that's going to make much of an impact. But it's a fun, breezy read. Comics really ought to be more about that sometimes.

My Opinion: Read It


  1. I recently decided that I wanted to learn more about the New Teen Titans (and various other DC characters that I knew relatively nothing about) because I was tired of interesting-looking books like this one coming out and feeling like I'd be on shaky ground if I tried reading them. I haven't actually made it to New Teen Titans yet, though -- right now I'm reading Silver Age Teen Titans (which I know is probably unnecessary to NTT, but I'm actually quite enjoying it, so it's all good).

    Anyway, this seems like a pretty accessible book even for someone unfamiliar with the character. I might try it, if it's a quick read. Black Canary seems like another female-led New 52 series that would probably be up my alley. I tend to like superhero books that aren't so much about know, superheroing.

  2. You don't need to know squat about the Teen Titans to enjoy this book. It doesn't tie-in at all. It's really just about Starfire looking to make a life in Key West. The absolute most lip-service paid to a connection with the Titans is when she talks to Tim Drake before Superman about where to go.

    Silver Age Teen Titans is silly fun. It's good you're reading it.

    But yeah, it's accessible. Starfire saves people and does some hero stuff for some action, but the books not necessarily ABOUT that. I'd say it's a quick enough read. Not super dense with words, but plenty of heart and character.