Created by Elaine Lee and Michael William Kaluta
Written by Elaine Lee
Illustrated by Michael William Kaluta
Letters by Todd Klein
Painted colours by Lee Moyer
Galactic Girl Guides chapters
Inks by Charles Vess
Letters by John Workman
Additional materials by Linda Medley, Walt Carter, and Jim Mueller
Book design by Elaine Lee and Lee Moyer
Cover by Michael William Kaluta
Published by IDW
the three cents.
This comic really is better than the Watchmen. I’d stake my life on it.
You know how most folks peg the Watchmen as the greatest work of the sequential arts? Yea well, in comparison, this baby is far more progressive, in scope and in message, as it’s a magnum opus science fictional tale full of sound and fury, signifying everything to end all magnum opus science fictional tales full of sound and fury, signifying everything.
In a truly grand narrative spanning multiple generations and lightyears, Lee gives us a massive cast of characters and caricatures in a series of plots that thread their ways about each other like 72 Mohammedan virgins going all Kama Sutra on a Twister game in the intangible aethers of Heaven. The plot is fast-moving and puzzle-like, with strong elements of political intrigue and satire alike cavorting about the omniverse in a futuristic setting where multiple clans struggle for dominance over a mix of cultures as boggled by the theologies of the day as they are by the sensory overload of sensationalistic commercialism that passes for status quo. Actually, considering that this story began as a sci-fi stage-play (though far more evolved and polished than WARP! of the early 70s, from all that I hear) and how sizable as this collected volume is it all still only serves as prologue to what transpires in said play, Lee very masterfully works in many a surprising insight regarding government, religion, pop culture and society at large that all still hold water all these years after the fact. And this, while still being marvelously zany and funny in the doing. Her ear for dialogue and the many accents of her many worlds are particularly keen and fun to read aloud, as are the many examples of poems and songs therein, peppering up the storytelling here and there like manna from Kansas. But it is the plot that is especially brimming with unadulterated imagination, with the circumstances her players finding themselves in being righteously incomparable every which way. Indeed, the lives portrayed of heroines Galatia-9 and Brucilla the Muscle are more stirringly original and inventive than the entire history of say, Spider-Man, who just popularly celebrated 50 years of publishing misfeasance. I solemnly believe this book has gone accolades free because Lee was writing too intelligent a story, schizophrenic and erotic and as blissfully wise as wise can blissfully be.
Kaluta’s work on Starstruck is definitely the finest of his career (although I admit I have several albums in my collection solely for his sleeve art), showing the painstakingly Raphaelian craftsmanship in fullest bloom combined with a foresight for science fantasy on par with the late Moebius. His designs for costumes, props, vehicles and locations are out of this world and it’s just nearly impossible to believe all came from the mind of but one sequential artisan. While showing some clear influence from former studiomates Barry Windsor-Smith, Bernie Wrightson, and the late Jeffrey Catherine Jones, in turn one can also see here elements that inspired other artists as divers as Howard Chaykin, Larry Stroman and Jim Lee. Kaluta is a master, but his storytelling has never been as victorious as what’s to be found in these many many pages. Moyer’s recoloring of the work is itself a stroke of excellence, with his longstanding admiration of the series given form in the marvelously constructed palettes on display here. It’s been said that line artists tend to ink themselves better than anybody else, and I’ve long believed the same goes for coloring too, but Moyer adds something really special to the overall look of this huge construct of amazements. I gather portions of these pages have been redeveloped for this newest format, as well as Klein even completely re-lettering entire sequences to better match how far he himself has come over the years, and his stature as one of the industry’s very best word balloon blower uppers certainly remains in good standing. While the Watchmen’s complete synthesis of story, art and letters delved subliminally into experimentation with the medium itself, the unification of the creative team responsible for Starstruck experiments as well, though less in the way of technique and more in the directions of pure aestheticism.
The deluxe edition collects much material published (and unpublished) previously in the roughly thirty plus year history of the property as a comic book, but loaded with extra extras, beginning with a celebratory introduction jointly written by the authoring couple Mike Carey and Lin Carey (aka A.J. Lake). Also key is the very indepth A Starstruck History written by Tym Stevens. Both of these are particularly great articles in summing up the colorful past of this work of brilliant imagination given sultry, sultry form. Honestly, any review of this comic would fall short of what those writers accomplished, present company included. Additional materials include the lengthy Galactic Girl Guides strips, most of which has never before been published, along with a new strip of related fun illustrated by the always good Medley; as well as a cover and pinup gallery, an expanded glossary, selected reading from books otherwise existing only in the story itself, 3D ship renderings, fake adverts from the future, and fumetti incorporating actual photos from the original play (though with Lee’s own son also making a cameo, I believe). See more Starstruck at the official website, but understand that there is so much backmatter gold in this tome, it’s pure krystal. Only a geezer from Bumpkinville in the Zero Zone would fail to find pleasure in the raunchy extroversion of this powerful story. And thankfully, there is more to come…