By: John C. Mayberry
As the sci-fi element of comics has become a more widely used concept since the industry’s beginning, it has also been a trickier one to incorporate over that time in a way that’s not only unique but still manages to capture and keep the reader’s attention. It often requires the near flawless technique on the part of the writers and artists involved to create something original, especially when crafting a sci-fi themed comic book that also seems to incorporate elements of other genres, such as fantasy for example. Stone Star #1, the first issue in the series’ Season 2 run which I’ll be discussing in particular, is an exemplary example of how blending of genres, even genre-bending at that, can be successfully executed in a very entertaining fashion. For those that are just picking up on this Comixology original series starting on this issue, you are in for a pleasant surprise that I promise will leave you wanting to see more.
Jim Zub, the series writer, and co-creator does a great job in quickly catching new readers up to speed in just the first page alone while managing to stay detailed enough that the reader has the knowledge of the backstory necessary to understand the events of the comic itself. The idea of Stone Star is one of the most unique I have seen, where the world of Yari was once a lush, paradisical was once roamed by giant beasts called the “Blessed Wanderers,” who left thriving ecosystems everywhere they roamed. With Yari adapting over time and becoming a more technological society, the planet was stripped of its natural resources in less than 250 years, weakening the giant beasts to the point of death. Picking up in present day, Yari has become a more destitute, desert-like place, with its citizens finding even the smallest pleasure when they can.
Enter Stone Star, an arena vessel where warriors compete in gladiator style battles, each belonging to different teams, competing for fame and glory in a destitute world. This issue focuses on Team Castaways, comprised of Dail Kinkaid, the son of a former gladiator about to have his first match in the Ring of Rivals, his effigy Durn, a giant suit of armor Dail seemingly shares a psychic connection with, and Kikanni, former royalty who escaped war and wound up in Stone Star. I found each character to be written brilliantly, with special attention being drawn to Dail and his personal journey of trial and tribulation to achieve the same level of greatness his father once had. The line art done by co-creator Max Dunbar which is brought to brilliant life by colorist Epsen Grundetjern illustrate and compliment the story too perfectly.
You will see the elements of fantasy and sci-fi throughout, but those elements are not so distinguishable from each other that there is a clear and concise division of the two genres used. Rather, it is what the perfect blend of fantasy and sci-fi would be, so much so I dare say that some might even consider it to be a new genre altogether. Altogether, in the beginning of its Season 2 run, Stone Star #1 is an entertaining read for anyone who’s been with the series from the beginning, or new readers using this issue as a jumping on point, leaving you with the beginnings of a mythos that I would personally love to see expanded upon. An excellent concept, great writing and dialogue that helps you relate to the characters, Stone Star #1 of Season 2 was fantastic read, and I will be reading up on Season 1 and continue to keep up with this series. Really cannot wait to see what comes next!
- Writing – From anyone who followed Stone Star from Season 1 to anyone who just started with this issue, readers are given a quick, one-page recap of the history of planet Yari from how it started to what led to its current desolate state without over-explanation. The sci-fi and fantasy elements are blended perfectly, there is no one between the two the feels more prevalent than the other. The characters too are written in a fashion that is relatable and gives readers that connection with them that draws them deeper into the story.
- Artwork – As the story being told blends together sci-fi and fantasy, so is the artwork, with the style of Max Dunbar giving perfect form to the story. Environments are beautifully drawn, character designs are unique, and the body language used alongside facial expressions is very expressive to what they’re feeling, further building that personal connection between character and reader.
- Coloring – The coloring job by Epsen Grundetjern is spot on and adds brilliance to Max Dunbar’s already impressive line art. The use of light sources, shadow and highlights are very well executed together to make Stone Star as much a piece of literary art as it is visual.
- Not a single, solitary thing wrong with it. Exactly the kind of thing I look for in a comic book, a great story, well-written characters and dialogue, artwork that’s beautifully colored, I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this!
OVERALL RATING – 5 out of 5
A great starting point for anybody new to Stone Star, and one that will capture their complete attention. Not only will you be compelled to read the Season 1 issues but will find yourself wanting to see what happens next. I highly recommend Stone Star to anybody reading this, because I for one would love to see where this mythos goes next.