Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Liam Sharp
Release Date: 6th July 2022
When a new book is described as ‘Terminator meets Green Knight’ with future Merlin heading back to the 5th century to stop time-travelling mechanoids from stealing magic from the universe, I’m going to sit up and pay attention. When such a story is delivered with eye-bleedingly cool visuals, I’m left struggling for words. In places almost more art book than comic, Starhenge leaves one battered from psychic assault yet eager for more.
Honestly, no one-line synopsis would do this issue justice. It is past, present, and future. Worlds, if not the strands of fate themselves, are in peril. Drawing from Arthurian legend, writ large upon a multiversal cosmos, ancient inhuman intelligence has been woken from its slumber and seeks to claim all of time and space itself. This sounds like I’m following what’s going on. It could be that I have been hoodwinked by the delicious imagery and like a naïve subject looking upon the emperor’s new clothes I’m nodding in approval. Heck, does it really matter?
Making sense of the vastness of scope here is aided by the voice of Amber, an arty young woman from modern day Brighton, but currently in Contra Costa County California. Narrating events from some future viewpoint like a herald or bard it is inevitable that they play no small part in our tale. It’s over the top. It’s both clever and absurd with Sharp artfully weaving myth and legend to their own ends. From what I understand, this book has been some time in the making and that refining is obvious throughout.
I spoke also of Starhenge coming across almost like an art book. I am not suggesting that in some way there are deficiencies which are glossed over by panel after panel of prime imagery; far from it. I would say though that its almost worth the price of admission alone for these images, as one could get lost for some time amongst these pages. Our opening pages have splashes which almost make mockery out of panel placement. Eliciting a deep sense of unease, this feeling lingers throughout multiple re-readings.
Furthermore, the changes in art style throughout had me believe that there must have been a gaggle of skilled pencillers beavering away. Whether the skin0wearing robots and backdrops which put me in mind of the dark future of Brom, or the rich layered dark past which could go toe to toe with the best Slaine output, maintaining such high quality throughout is no mean feat. If you pushed me, and to reign in what sounds like fawning at this point, I would say that some of the panels of Amber and her beau, Daryl, failed to chime in the same way as everything else. I’m sure I got the intent and vibe, but it maybe stretched the threads just a little too thin.
Starhenge is the book that I didn’t know I needed until right now. If it’s been some thirty years of on and off tinkering to get to this point, then it has been well worth the wait. One never wants a good thing to end before its begun but I’m already champing at the bit to see a collected works.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster