Written by: Mark Millar
Art by: Goran Parlov
Much has been written about Mark Millar, the writer and provocateur, if you will. He’s all hype. His books are always late. He’s writing comics just to turn them into movies immediately. His ideas are great but his execution leaves a lot to be desired. I won’t argue or agree with any of these claims here, and luckily I don’t have to. Each new issue or series gives creators another chance at delivering the whole package, and Starlight is most certainly that—the whole package. The writing, art, coloring, and just the right amount of nostalgia all combine to make something greater than the sum of its parts.
The first issue (of six total) opens with our hero, Duke McQueen, receiving a medal for heroism displayed on some distant plant, during a long-forgotten war. McQueen is young, strong, and a bit embarrassed to be recognized for valor in front of hundreds of thousands of adoring fans. The next page jumps forward some years and Duke is a much older man, on a much more boring planet—namely, Earth. That’s not the worst of it though. Duke’s wife has recently passed away and no one believes that he went to outer space in the first place, much less that he saved an entire planet from tyranny. These first few pages are poignant not because Duke wants fame or recognition, but because after a lifetime of heroics and adventures, he’s now just like any other older widower—alone, a bit slower than he used to be, and wishing his sons would pick up the phone when he calls them.
This wouldn’t be much of a comic though, if Duke just stayed in his house for six issues and wallowed in regrets and cigarette smoke. Instead, a young boy arrives on Earth from the planet that Duke saved so many years ago. Once again, that planet is in trouble and who else could its citizens turn to besides the greatest hero they’d ever known, Duke McQueen? Faster than you can say “retirement home,” Duke is once again in a spaceship racing to save those who cannot protect themselves. Millar understands, so Duke understands, that the Hero is not about what he has done or will do, but instead the Hero is who can inspire others to be better than themselves. This is Duke’s only true superpower: inspiring the trod upon.
Millar’s story pairs perfectly with Parlov’s artwork. There’s just something about Parlov’s work here that’s both modern (the pacing and the layouts themselves) and yet sentimental also. If you have read Ennis’ collaboration with Parlov, Fury MAX: My War Gone By, then you may know exactly what I mean. The sword fights and the spaceships, the grocery store aisles, the blasters, and the dining room table—somehow all of the lines and quick cuts between then and now work seamlessly to create a story that looks forward while slyly nodding to the past simultaneously. That’s a trick most comics cannot pull off so easily, but Starlight exceeds expectations on all fronts.
This collection also includes the alternate covers for all of the issues, including a stunner for issue 6 by Cliff Chiang. Otherwise the collection is pretty light on extras. There is a lot to love in this book, however. If you enjoy sci-fi tales and heroes gearing up for one last showdown, then there is no question: Starlight is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend to you.