Saturday, 25 October 2014

Starlight Review (Mark Millar, Goran Parlov)

As a much younger man, Duke McQueen saved an alien world called Tantalus from the baddies and became their hero. Then he returned to Earth and no-one believed him, not even his own family. Today, Duke’s a grandfather whose wife has passed away and his kids have grown up and started families of their own. Then a spaceship arrives on his front lawn and a young boy from Tantalus steps out – they need Duke McQueen to help them again.

I quite like the setup, which is a twist on the adventure pulps of the early 20th century but, wow, Mark Millar’s script is pure faecal matter! He completely trashes what could’ve been a half-decent story with his lazy horseshit writing. 

I mean, the influences are so obvious – Buck Rogers, Star Wars, to name a couple – as to be almost cut’n’pasted into this comic wholesale! Here’s a female Han Solo-type, behaving just like Han Solo! Here’s the rebel base on Endor! Here’s Buck Rogers aka Duke McQueen!

The characters couldn’t be more one-dimensional. Duke is the hero, Starboy is his sidekick, the Kingfisher is the villain, that’s it. Their motivations are equally simple – hero wants to stop villain who in turn just wants to enslave everyone to get boringly rich. And Duke is so invincible – even as an old man – that there’s zero tension in watching him demolish hordes of alien soldiers. He’s never in any danger because he’s the hero. Can you get more contrived?

The “plot” is so horribly predictable it’s insulting to the reader. Duke arrives on the planet to save everyone – guess what happens in the end? Starboy’s parents were killed by some sneering villain, and he promises that he’ll avenge his parents and kill their killer - guess what happens in the end? When Duke and Starboy get thrown into an alien cell, they meet an unusually friendly character who plies them for information on the rebels – duh, d’you think he’s a spy working for the bad guys?

There isn’t a single redeeming feature to Millar’s writing on this book. It is straight up cold-hearted and brazenly cynical all the way through. The only quality about the book I liked was Goran Parlov’s art. His work with Garth Ennis on Fury MAX and The Punisher was excellent and the art in this book is no less brilliant. The comic looks like an 80s space opera, in the best possible way. Fresh, exciting, a bit simplistic but no less compelling to look at, though, like I said, some of the designs are unashamedly pulled straight out of Star Wars.

In the lead up to this series, Millar said Starlight would be the book that unites his many Millarworld books – and it totally doesn’t. More fool me, I know, given that Millar is the PT Barnum of comics, but still, does this man have any integrity at all? 

The latest Millarworld releases have been exceedingly sub-par: The Secret Service was woeful, Kick Ass 3 was a helluva disappointment, as was Jupiter’s Legacy (which is plagued with delays, though that’s down to Frank Quitely rather than Millar), and MPH is arguably the worst thing Millar’s written, though Starlight comes close to claiming that title! What a miserable place the Millarworld is. 

Mark Millar could not have written a more bland, generic space adventure comic than Starlight. I’m flabbergasted that anyone could have anything remotely positive to say about something this void of originality, imagination or soul. 

Oh god, why am I still talking about this shitty book!? Fuck Mark Millar and fuck Starlight!


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