Review – Stellar #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Joseph Keatinge
Artist: Bret Blevins
Letters: Rus Wooton
Release Date: 13th June 2018

What happens when you take a child, convert them into the ultimate weapon of destruction to end an intergalactic war, only to let them fall into the underbelly world of the bounty hunter? Well, in spite of the gnawing feeling of cliché or familiarity, a pretty damn entertaining read is what.

From the off we are dropped into a very alien setting, albeit one which oddly seems to have a fair grounding in nostalgia. The cover, whilst not quite in the “Heavy Metal” category, hits you in the smacker with its pulpy visuals and strong female lead. From the unobscured wondrous starry skies to the shimmering marbled effect of the crashed ship – into some alien behemoth no less – right down the decaying rocketeer-helmed figure with duster and ray gun, this image clearly says a thousand words.

To follow up, the first splash panel then takes this setup and hits it out the park. The lines and colours are gorgeous and truly capture the ‘what happens after’. The remnants of high civilisations in ruins being picked at by robed alien figures. The crumbling colossi (or colossuses for our American English folks) and fallen iron giants. It all meshes together to provide a sumptuous backdrop that fits exactly with this kind of story.

We’re introduced to Stellar the bounty hunter as she is bringing in some kind of lumbering insect/crab like alien. The robed Stellar is a far cry from the sleek bodysuit of the cover, and it’s a welcome switch which also conveys the competence of this individual given the size and mass difference of their bounty. The strange and unexpected charm of Melan Karkinos, the name given to the alien, elicits the back story of Stellar which is all goggles, tin hats, and more ray guns.

Over the almost whimsical visuals is the exposition of grim reality and horror of conflict which builds to a glaring double-page splash of raw atomic destruction. Stellar is a child of science created as a weapon of supreme destruction to bring an end to the sprawling war. With powers which seem at the superhero level – we’re talking flight, super strength, ability to survive orbital re-entry in nothing but a spiffy flight suit – there’s definitely expectation that at some point soon in the story things are no doubt going to hit the fan. Trouble is, Stellar wasn’t created in isolation…

This first issue manages to pull together a number of very different threads and weaves them into something definitely worth inspecting. Visually there’s retro science fiction which is reminiscent of Flash Gordon and maybe a sprinkling of Rogue Trooper which, for me, pushes all the right buttons. The story though, as competently told as it is, doesn’t quite get going in this issue. There’s a lot going on but it’s no way a slog, more an enjoyable meander.

All the pieces are here to make a really good run and the hope is that this new series will come to live up to its name.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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