Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Comic You Can Fall Into

Starstruck: Old Proldiers Never Die #1-6 (IDW, February-July 2017, $4.99)
Written by Elaine Lee and drawn by Michael Kaluta, this is a "new" series of a comic that reaches back more than 30 years. Originally staged as an off-Broadway play, intended as a comic as early as 1980, serialized in Heavy Metal, published by Marvel's Epic line, and later the subject of brief legal action involving Marvel and Disney, this series is "remastered," whatever that means. Reportedly including 50% new artwork, the comic goes beyond the original material. Regardless, is this a new comic, or a reprint?

Given that history, it's no surprise that Lee's world is richly designed and populated—few comic books include an encyclopedic glossary in the back matter. The story and characters are very well developed. This is a fantastic dystopian future—shades of Blade Runner, AI, and Max Headroom. And even though the first page seems to have been drawn in 1984, the comic is fresh and new, occasionally more surprising and groundbreaking than something made of whole cloth today.

Harry Palmer, veteran of the Droid Wars, is looking for Annie, who was left behind by Galatia 9. Several Girl Guides offer to help him, as does an Aquatunisian empath. He encounters cryptic mentions of pleasure-giving androids and "running in place." After a fire in a wax museum, Palmer finally finds an android much like Annie, as well as Mary, before solving the mystery of running in place.

Kaluta's art is mind boggling. Beautifully dense and lush, the pages and panels have so much going on in them. Think Matt Wagner's Grendel as drawn by Geoff Darrow by way of Liberatore and Henry Darger. Cinematic in scope, this comic is one you can fall into. Glorious.

Availability: Starstruck: Old Proldiers Never Die will be available in hard cover in December 2017. IDW's previous 13-issue remastered Starstruck series has also been collected.

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