Throughout the entirety of “Starfire” #2, Koriand’r — fighting against the rage of a hurricane that hit Key West — selflessly flies time and again into harm’s way to rescue the members of her new community. It’s a clever move by Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti to establish the more grounded nature of Kori’s new reality and also create a larger-than-life threat that builds her as an exotic beacon of hope in Florida which (if everyone’s being honest) needs it. The new status quo of her life — a well-meaning stranger in a strange world — is a perfect backdrop for the action and, though the supernatural threat in the issue is only foreshadowed, there is still plenty for Starfire to do that keeps the book fast and entertaining.
Connor and Palmiotti’s comedy, reigned in from ludicrous nature of their “Harley Quinn” stories, takes a secondary role while everyone braces for Hurricane Betty’s impact. While there are still light, funny moments — seeing how Kori’s brain interprets turns of phrase or odd colloquialisms is a great trope for the character that will probably follow her forward — the hurricane is such a large problem that it swallows the entire issue.
The writers use the opportunity to expand the supporting cast and tease more romantic possibilities for the heroine. Readers are introduced to Sol, Stella’s brother and a Coast Guard member as selflessly heroic as herself. The fallout of the issue teases an even bigger role in Kori’s life for the two after Kori’s temporary mobile home is destroyed. If this is the route the writers are choosing, then it’s a great way to show that he’s her equal, a strong man able to hang with someone as awesome as Starfire. If anything, he is going beyond his own means, sacrificing himself to assist others. That could make for a deadly combination somewhere later in the series but, for now, it’s a good introduction.
Meanwhile, Emanuela Lupacchino’s art is a perfect touch, creating dynamic action scenes that focus on the height of the moment for both awesomeness — as in the double page spread that opens the story — and comedic effect, like when she’s soon after walloped by a runaway sign. Her art also has a softness to it that creates an aesthetically appropriate sense of femininity and doesn’t allow the heroics to come across as too macho or too much like the object of a male power fantasy. Her layouts and character work are reminiscent of Adam Hughes and the Dodsons. On her pages, no one seems to be over-emoting or attempting to distract from the story. There’s a confidence to the work, even in lesser scenes such as the foreshadowing sequence where a man falls down a hole and is transformed into something much more sinister than a man in a Hawiian shirt.
There isn’t much room for a B-plot in the issue. As mentioned earlier, the hurricane is an all-encompassing event that has all hands are on deck to address the problem. It limits the issue a little bit, as there isn’t much more that a hurricane could mean to various characters other than destruction and a need to lean into survival mode. It’s a double-edged sword, as it gives them the advantage of creating a large focus on Sol and his place in Kori’s world, but also doesn’t let them do anything other than face down the threat. The second installment of any story is always tough, since the energy and freshness of the concept is spent in the first one; at this point, it’s proving that the formula works. Connor and Palmiotti are almost there and are certainly treating Kori better than she has been treated in recent years, especially since the New 52 relaunch.
Once the world is finally settled around Starfire and the writers can spend less time introducing readers to their ideas, this book has the potential to grow to “Harley Quinn” levels of fun. Combined with some gorgeous art, “Starfire” #2 is a mechanically sound installment of the series that shows the potential of not only the storytelling but the characters as well.