Friday, 22 February 2019

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 22nd February 2019: "Zodiac Starforce Volume 2: Cries of the Fire Prince" by Kevin Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau and Sarah Stern (Dark Horse Comics)

Our Comic of the Week this week practically jumped off the library stacks and into C's hands. It could almost have been made for her and her alone.

Thankfully "Zodiac Starforce Volume 2: Cries of the Fire Prince" by Kevin Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau and Sarah Stern has been made for ALL girls (and boys) like C who are enjoying this new wave of amazing kid and middle grade comics (though I think it's probably fair to describe this as 'upper middle grade') where superheroes don't have to be grumpy, gritty misery-guts clad in shades of beige and grey.

For anyone who has loved the recent runs of Netflix animations like She-Ra and Carmen Sandiego, you could almost imagine the streaming service optioning Zodiac Starforce as an animation at some point in the not-too-distant future (given their committment to optioning a lot of comic IP - to great effect in most cases).

This though, well OK let's not get ahead of ourselves as this is volume 2 after all - and we're coming in a bit late.

The Zodiac Starforce team are a bunch of kick-ass superhero girls, each with their own unique set of powers.

Working effectively together, but just as devastating in their own individual rights too, meet Taurus, Libra, Gemini, Aries and Pisces, the US based Zodiac Starforce team.

When an innocent teenage prank goes hideously wrong, and a group of wicca-loving perps unwittingly unleash the Fire Prince on an unsuspecting world, the US Zodiac Starforce team must join with their (slightly grumpy and standoffish) UK counterparts to combat the demon menace before his disgusting denizens take over the entire world and turn it to ash.

Y'know, standard 'saving the world' stuff.

What marks this comic out is the way that the characters instantly gel, and just plain work together as a collective without feeling like some insidious marketing exercise in ticking all the diversity / inclusivity boxes.

You have characters of colour, kick-ass gals who don't conform to the usual 'superhero body shape', LGBT characters who express their love for each other in such a flipping fantastic and MG friendly way, wonderfully naturally within the threads of the story as volume 2 unfolds. Everyone will find their own faves (Naturally C loves Pisces as that's her star sign, and the character is as full of sass, fashion nous and individuality as C herself. I of course loved Taurus!)

I really wish we'd discovered this fantastic comic series sooner. I'd always assumed (wrongly) that Dark Horse were all about gritty, dark and dystopian stuff but this is a cut above just about every other superhero team comic we've read in the last couple of years.

Utterly fantastic. Now can we have that series, Netflix?

Sum this comic up in a sentence: Kick-ass, joyful, serious, funny, colourful and downright essential for mighty girls and boys everywhere.

"Zodiac Starforce Volume 2: Cries of the Fire Prince" is out now, published by Dark Horse Comics (Library loan).