We take a look at Starside #1 and 2, an independently published comic by three creators which tells a story of one young man whose life takes a major turn when he becomes an unwittingly major part of an alien invasion. Can this title shoot for the stars or will it end up lost in space?
Publisher: Starside Comics
Writer: Dylan Klein, Lane Brettschneider
Artist: Jordan Chao
Price: $3.99 from ComiXcentral.com
Starside tells the story of Jack, a compassionate, quiet, decidedly everyday young man whose life of school, friends and family is torn apart when the Earth witnesses an alien invasion. However, as Jack joins the masses in escaping the clutches of these otherworldly aggressors, one wrong turn sees Jack taken prisoner and placed in a cell on the spaceships and taken far into the depths of space. Can Jack and the other prisoners escape their new jailers and, if so, where do they go now they are light years from all they know.
With Starside, Dylan Klein and Lane Brettschneider have produced quite the engrossing story, which is very enjoyable despite (or maybe even due to) it’s quiet demeanour. The story is broken up into two parts, the pre and post invasion, which, although are polar opposites in terms of pacing, do nothing to diminish the overall flow. In fact, this two part dynamics works well for Starside as the opening, quiet half sees Klein and Brettschneider introduce their protagonist almost perfectly, showing him, even without words, to be a likeable, believable and caring character which you just can’t help but route for.
The second half of issue 1 and beyond feels much more action packed with a great pace which helps keep you hooked. From this point twists are plentiful, such as with the idea of certain humans having superpowers. However, this is where the title falls down as it offers no insight or explanation to this revelation, nor to the alien’s motives. That said, these questions may be answered in future instalments but, for now, it is something that leaves us scratching our heads – even if it doesn’t diminish the overall story’s enjoyment.
Artist Jordan Chao, offers up some seriously gorgeous artwork in both issues of Starside and utilises a style which has a slightly European feel to it, as well as reminding us of Joshua Sherwell’s work in The Kill Screen, and looks incredible with every panel. This is best exemplified early in the first issue where, having started proceedings in the present, Chao uses a single panel to transition back to an earlier time which is not only a great use of an idea but also a tremendous use of space. As such, there is little wrong with the art in this title, save for the darker colours used during some invasion panels which does seem to take away from the greatness of the lighter panels. However, this is a minor critique in the grand scheme of things.
Starside is a really captivating, highly beautiful comic which appears to take the focus of something as epic as an alien invasion and place it squarely on a single character as he experiences it all. As such, this series has set itself up perfectly to allow readers to follow a fully realised character and, with an intriguing cliffhanger, it makes you curious as to where it’ll go from here.