Starward #1 is published by Heavy Metal Entertainment LLC, written by Steve Orlando, with art by Ivan Shavrin, and letters by Saida Temofonte. Stephanie Cohen was beginning what felt like another ordinary summer. Despite completing her first year of college, nothing had changed. She was spending her 20th birthday working as a lifeguard at the same pool she had for so many summers before. Until something awakened inside Stephanie. Now, her world will never be the same.
Stephanie’s discovery that she is far more than your average college student comes in the form of an origin story that blends the mundane and the cosmic wonderfully. This fusing of settings starts first with writer Orlando’s excellent script. Orlando does a great job of introducing readers to both sides of Starward #1‘s narrative thanks to the superb way the voice of the story is crafted. When delivering the background of the why and what of Stephanie’s origins, Orlando crafts a unique setting that feels epic thanks to its melding of unique, intricate concepts with characters and terms any fantasy fan will recognize. This combination of old and new allows the story to present an intriguing opening to the series.
The fantasy concepts are made to feel even greater due to the time the book spends in Stephanie’s mundane life. Everything about these moments feels so familiar that almost anyone can understand the feelings the tale’s protagonist is experiencing. This familiarity allows the reader to both find a place to relate to Stephanie, as well as accept the concept that this is all happening to someone in our world.
Both sides of Starward #1‘s story are aided in no small part by Shavrin’s wonderful artwork. First and foremost, I have to talk about the layouts in this book. The paneling throughout this book adds its own layer of personality to the story. Rather than containing each panel within its boundaries, Shavrin allows the story to run wild on the page when it needs to. The artist creates a structure that, at a glance, oftentimes feels completely chaotic, but when you start to read it, the path through is always intuitive and clear to follow.
Within these beautifully chaotic panels is artwork that overflows with personality. The character designs and colors always pop with energy and vibrant expression. This is especially true for the fantasy moments in Starward #1. In both the opening sequence when the myth of the story is set, as well as when Stephanie is brought face-to-face with her true life, The art brings a level of effectiveness and captivating energy I’ve rarely seen.
The final touch to this fantastic endeavor is the lettering. Temofonte’s letters work perfectly to complement the art. The sound effect designs are a perfect showcase of lettering as they enhance every panel of the book they appear in. Couple that with wonderful dialogue placement that does its share to guide the reader through the story’s perfectly chaotic presentation and you have a true master class of lettering here.
When I look back at it all, Starward #1 manages to deliver in every way I could ask. A relatable protagonist is surrounded by an intriguing fantasy setup that looks to collide with an extremely grounded world. Layer on the immaculately done visual presentation and you have a story that feels primed to become something truly special.
Starward #1 is available now through Heavy Metal.
Starward #1 manages to deliver in every way I could ask. A relatable protagonist is surrounded by an intriguing fantasy setup that looks to collide with an extremely grounded world. Layer on the immaculately done visual presentation and you have a story that feels primed to become something truly special.