Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s writing on “Harley Quinn” has been a real joy over the past year, strong enough that the big question has been, “What character will the duo work their magic on next?” The wait is over with “Starfire” #1, as Conner, Palmiotti, Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy bring the character to life in a new series set in Key West, Florida. So far, it’s a real breath of fresh air.
Conner and Palmiotti’s writing attracts right from the start because there’s no grimness or darkness in “Starfire” #1. Their take finds Starfire naÃ¯ve but cheerful, the proverbial fish out of water, as she’s a little clueless but utterly eager in every situation she finds herself in. Even her two-page introduction (which runs through her history in coming to Earth), which is full of slavery and experimentation, has a perpetual vein of hope running through it. That’s exactly the right tactic for this character, whose exuberance is refreshing and infectious. At times, she’s a little over the top, especially in terms of sexuality, but it comes across as sweet rather than creepy, which is an important distinction. For the moment, it’s all good-hearted.
At the same time, Conner and Palmiotti don’t lose track of the bigger picture; this isn’t a one-shot, after all, but an ongoing series. The duo hit the ground running in establishing a supporting cast and a setting for “Starfire,” a mixture of people she’ll know on a quasi-professional basis (local law enforcement) as well as on a personal level (her landlady and landlady’s grandson). While it might seem a little cliche, I really appreciate that this book uses the setting of Key West, between wayward parrots and incoming hurricanes. It would be easy to just file off the names to make it a generic setting but, instead, this feels like Conner and Palmiotti are trying to take advantage of the different locale.
It’s great to see Lupacchino’s pencils on a new title; she and McCarthy are the perfect choice for the book. I love the way they draw Starfire in normal clothing, in a manner that’s breezy while still following actual fashions and styles. Part of the joy of the book also comes from the upbeat way in which Starfire’s expresses herself; she’s almost always smiling, and in a manner that doesn’t look forced or plastic. The action is energetic here, and watching Starfire blast a table with fighting guys could have come across harsh but feels almost fun instead, thanks to the way that Lupacchino draws the moment. Add in that Lupacchino, McCarthy and Hi-Fi provide clean lines with subdued but attractive colors, and the entire comic just looks good.
“Starfire” #1 is a great addition to the new DC YOU lineup of titles. This feels like a book driven by creator instincts; it definitely follows up on Conner and Palmiotti’s work on “Power Girl” and “Harley Quinn” in bringing their voices to the character. Add in some good art from Lupacchino and McCarthy, and the end result? I’ll be back next month. I suspect I won’t be alone. This is a fun comic.