Image Comics releases Mark Millar’s 6-part Starlight in a collected TPB this week and after the series made my 2014 highlights list …….I’m revisiting it.
We follow Duke McQueen in what seems like his twilight years – having recently lost his wife & with his kids all grown up and living their own lives in the City…..he’s alone for the first time in years. The added hurdle of facing ridicule about his wild stories of his adventures forty year’s ago on another planet in another universe that he ultimately saved. Those days are a million light-years away from where he is now……but that’s all about to change.
Cue the arrival of the hero-worshipping Krish Moor who has come to Earth to get Duke & take him back to the planet he saved all those year’s ago – Tantalus. The year’s of peace that Duke helped reclaim have faded as an invasion by the Broteans lead by evil tyrant Lord Kingfisher saw the peaceful residents of Tantalus fall under the strict rule of a new enemy. Having long forgotten how to fight they need a leader, a hero & the only one they know…..is a bit over the hill these days but that won’t stop a man like Duke – so we’re back in business and with a new spring in his step he’s soon back in a spaceship and hitting warp.
Rallying the troops & taking the enemy on directly Duke is soon back in the fight and kicking some ass….
…although that turns out not to be as easy as it once was as the extra year’s have taken their toll. Duke still has the same zest for life though and after being on the brink of almost giving up when he lost his wife there’s a new, familiar purpose for him. Bringing together a small pocket of resistance they don’t last long as a crucial ally becomes a vengeful double-crosser and they come face to face with Kingfisher himself. Facing execution there’s one last play to make and the hope of success lies with Duke & the small group of fighters…..and to be honest, that’s the best place for that hope to be.
You’ll have to read the book for the finer details and the adventure that lies in these pages are phenomenal as they represent probably one of the best things Millar has written in year’s…..at least for me. The fate of Tantalus & the story rests on the shoulders of our main man Duke but the air of power around him is what keeps the whole story trucking along as the element of sadness in Duke’s life gives him a real human frailty to match his years. Added to that is the way he embraces the chance to recreate his glory days for a whole planet of people that believe in him without question…..and the sense of scale and importance is made very real. A suitably sinister villain gives the added dimension that all true “good vs evil” stories need and the supporting cast of characters have depth and chemistry that breathe life into an old-style space yarn. It’s what Flash Gordon would have been like if Clint Eastwood had taken on the main role and that’s fine by me.
With Goran Parlov on art & Ive Svorcina on colours the look and feel of the release is steeped in cinematic, B-Movie magic that’s rumoured to be one of Millar’s next movie releases…..and I can see why. I just hope the style stays the same as the art team work this perfectly…….but then Millar has a real knack of matching the perfect artist with his stories. There’s also a great gallery of the variant covers and I hadn’t realized there were so many…….a great addition to any collection & a real triumph for Millarworld.