Three issues into “Starlight,” the new series from Mark Millar and Goran Parlov, and I think the biggest shock so far is how upbeat the book is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and roses; this is a comic about a hero having to return to a world that he’d saved only to find it in a far worse situation than he could have imagined. But there’s something about the tone of “Starlight” #3 — and the series in general — which gives it that positive boost from start to finish.
Part of the credit goes to Millar, whose main character of Duke McQueen is a large reason on why the tone for “Starlight” #3 is so strong. He may have some doubts here and there, about his age or what he did on Tantalus the last time, but he’s also not someone to dwell for too long on things that have gone wrong. He’s decisive, he’s someone who stands up for what’s right, and at his core? He’s a hero. You can see why he was the savior of this planet in the past, and his drive pushes “Starlight” #3 along. Even when his sidekick is explaining what’s happened to the planet since it was taken over, Duke still finds a way to buoy the series forward.
The thing is, “Starlight” #3 doesn’t gloss over some of the awful things that are happening. Live torture and executions are hardly cheerful subjects. But unlike some of Millar’s other projects where this sort of scene would be dwelled on and spelled out in explicit detail, “Starlight” recognizes what’s happening and then simply moves forward. It’s a great attitude, one that I wish more comics would take.
All of that said, Parlov’s art is the other piece of the puzzle for “Starlight” and don’t underestimate its power. Parlov’s P. Craig Russell meets Moebius visual style here is stunning, with clean thin lines and strong character designs. Lord Kingfisher’s hood and horned mask just leaps off the page; it’s very simple but it’s instantly recognizable, a mixture of old world and alien merged into one. Duke just looks great here too; he might be in his 60s but he’s still dashing in his blue and yellow and black outfit, with a steely look in his eyes as he takes down the enemy in quick and deliberate movements. From leaning into his shots, to twisting around as he attacks, he moves like someone who does this all the time — even as he also shows his age a panel or two as we see him slowing down just a tad. Finally, I love Parlov’s fashions that he shows off here. From the person in the bar at the end of the comic to the every day person on the street, it never feels like people are in generic clothing. Every choice stands out, and it’s that special care that makes the book work that much more.
“Starlight” #3 is yet another winner of an issue in this series; it’s a real joy to see the quality continue from one installment to the next. Whatever Millar and Parlov are doing to turn out comics this good, I hope they don’t stop it any time soon, because this is a hell of a lot of fun.