Review: Starstruck

I first learned of the existence of the Starstruck comic series through the Dimension 20 series Starstruck Odyssey, a table top role playing game actual play game mastered by Brennan Lee Mulligan (a significant fact that will come into play later) and played/acted out by the Intrepid Heroes cast set in and based off of the imaginative world of Starstruck. Admittedly, I was more interested in seeing the campaign play out more so than the source material the game was based on. However, as more and more episodes premiered, the Starstruck universe became more and more odd and intriguing to the point that I had to find and read the comics mostly because I doubted I would be able to find the original stage play that started the whole thing. I can honestly state that I am glad I found and read the large graphic novel collection.

Starstruck is indisputably an American science fiction series; in some cases, perhaps too American, but classifying it further beyond that umbrella genre is a bit more difficult venturing on impossible. It is humorous and ridiculous in its presentation. The various stories told through its pages range from heartbreaking to mindboggling to legitimately harrowing and terrifying. The dialogue is verbose and pithy and both, somehow, at times. The characters, even the background bartender, are all fully developed with complete personalities, desires, and lives. The themes and narratives addressed are still (sadly) significant even thirty years after the first publication and treated with grace and maturity alongside a dollop of absurdity. In short, while it is nearly impossible to put this comic series, and accompanying stage and radio plays, into a singular genre or box, the final production and universe is all the better for it.

And honestly that is one of the comic series selling points: its maturity. By that I don’t mean the grimdark, childish version of “mature” that is just and excuse for over the top violence, swearing, and nudity (though almost always singularly female nudity). No, I mean the series tells a genuinely unique story that deals with mature themes like oppression, identity, power, religion, faith, purpose, government and the rule of law, patriotism and its potential consequences, etc. with grace, nuance, and understanding. There is definitely still violence, cursing, and nudity, but they are not the point or main driving force of the art or narrative.

Beyond intelligently working through the themes it presents, the graphic novel is, for lack of a better term, dense. Think Alan Moore’s works like Watchmen or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. They are incredible stories and worlds in part because of the attention to detail in plot, dialogue, and artwork. Like those examples, Starstruck gives more depth to its universe and characters through the art on the pages. From character designs and alterations as their stories progress to billboards and sign postage to message and letter written and weaved through the pages, the impressive and unique artwork found in the comics add dimensions to the stories presented giving backstory to not only the characters through their designs but also hinting at major past events and future events to happen. As well, these aesthetic choices and background art reinforce the themes of power, identity, anti-capitalism, and, oddly, the significance of story.

So, if you are looking for a new, weird, and utterly engaging story to pick up. Starstruck should be your next venture.

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