Monday, November 2, 2015

More Millar: STARLIGHT with Goran Parlov

Mark Millar is a smart guy.  Namely, he knows that comics is a visual medium, and he works with some of the absolute best artists working in the field.  Starlight is no different.  Goran Parlov is an artist whose work I don’t remember seeing before, though I was aware of his name from Parlov’s run with Garth Ennis on Punisher.  So, I was anxious to see what he could do, while also checking out some of Mark Millar’s recent work (having also just read Kingsman, with art by the legendary Dave Gibbons). 

Starlight is an homage to the adventure serials Millar used to watch as a child, heavily influenced by one of the ultimate pulp/sci-fi heroes, Flash Gordon.  And it is a pretty fun romp.  Duke McQueen, the Flash Gordon analogue, is older, his sons with families of their own, his wife recently deceased, his life passing into twilight.  Ever since his adventures on the alien world of Tantalus, McQueen has lived with the fact that his stories of adventure were never believed by the general populace, leaving him as the butt of jokes from neighborhood children and, upon his immediate return from Tantalus decades ago, news reporters.  But, at this point in his life, McQueen has resigned himself to being the target of ridicule. 

Until a starship from Tantalus lands in his backyard, a pink-haired child emerging in the rain to greet him with both excitement and a bit of awe.  Tantalus needs Duke McQueen again, to save them from a new tyranny.  Hesitant at first, McQueen acquiesces and returns to the planet of his greatest triumphs, Earth having nothing left for him. 

From here, we get some fighting, some acrobatics (from an old guy, but come on, it’s fiction), some gunplay, a despotic villain, equally evil henchmen, flying cars, beautiful, alien women, a twist, a feint, some slapstick, and flashbacks of exotic adventure.  There’s nothing new in this book, and Millar isn’t trying to revolutionize comics, but the narrative hums along smoothly, offering some fun scenes that all lead to the climax we expect, with a nice emotional denouement that brings McQueen closer to his sons—or, more to the point, his sons closer to their dad—and it’s professional and competent and doesn’t trip over itself, plot-wise.  It’s a fun, popcorn adventure. 

That said:  Damn, can Goran Parlov freakin’ draw.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This is one of the most beautiful comics I’ve read in a long time, and Parlov elevates Starlight far above its weight class (to mix a horrible metaphor…shaken, not stirred, please).  His figures look like they were based on character sheets from Alex Toth, while the backgrounds and architecture feel like they were lifted directly from an unpublished tome of Moebius’s work, and it all just sings—aided wonderfully by coloring from Ive Svorcina.  If you enjoy comics, and if you love great comic art, you need to check this book out.  Take your time, linger on every page, drink in the wonder of Parlov’s art.  Not since Scott Morse, or maybe Frank Santoro, have I been so bowled over by an artist’s work in a comic book.  Parlov’s so good, I might have to check out his work on Punisher now. 

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