Comic Review: Starbrand and Nightmask #1

STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK #1
Written By Greg Weisman
Art by Domo Stanton & Jordan Boyd
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 16, 2015                                                                          Copy purchased on Comixology.

Imagine the most powerful and obscure cosmic level superheroes in the Marvel Universe getting rebooted for a new generation of readers. Okay, now imagine those rebooted heroes attending college while trying to fit in with their peers and share a dorm room together. If that scenario feels forced to you…it is but Starbrand and Nightmask, the newest buddy comedy comic from Marvel, feels refreshing among the All-New, All Different line up.

Adam Blackveil (Nightmask) is an artificially created human constructed by Avengers frenemy Ex Nihilo while Kevin Conner (Star Brand) is a human teenager who lucked into gaining phenomenal cosmic powers but his transformation caused a deadly explosion in Allegheny Technical College. Together, they became fast friends and would join the Avengers in stopping the builders and even stopping Thanos. This issue starts off with the duo returning from their space stint with the Avengers and they quickly dispatch Blizzard from freezing the Great Wall of China. They’re offered a position on the New Avengers from Bobby Da Costa. But Adam declines in favor of going to college and getting in touch with the human race with Kevin reluctantly tagging along for the experience.

Greg Weisman (Gargoyles) excels at making the ordinary drama of being a teenager feel on par with the superhero drama and this comic is no exception. Kevin and Adam have distinct personalities and deliver great snarky banter (how many speculative fiction writers do you know that use the word “Grok”?). Weisman also excels at world building but in setting up this series, he leaves very little payoff. Still, it’s nice to see these characters fleshed out instead of getting tossed to the curb like so many of Johnathan Hickman’s Avengers lineup (Sidebar: does anyone even remember Smasher or Manifold after Hickman spent to much time building them up?) The narration in this issue is from Kevin’s point of view and his past issues with Allegheny Technical College are brought into the light. Kevin’s feelings of being so divorced from humanity after spending so much time in outer space inject some genuine humanity into the book.

Alongside these cosmic compadres are a diverse cast of characters. Superheroes like the aforementioned Bobby Da Costa and the Unbeatable Doreen Green (and Tippy Toe) make quick, but memorable appearances in this book. Aside from Blizzard, a couple of well known Avengers baddies appear in this book but their motivations are not explained in this issue. Fans of The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon will be happy to know a character from that Kenny Kong make an appearance. The most interesting cast member introduced in this issue is Imani Greene, a disabled woman of color that Kevin falls in love with at first sight. I liked that Kevin felt a natural attracted to her not out of pity for her physical disabilities and I loved how Imani handles herself with a degree of maturity you don’t normally find in cape comics. I could easy see Imani becoming a reoccurring character on this series but I’m curious to see if the creative team will explore how she sustained those injuries.

Domo Stanton (Archer, Chozen) and Jordon Boyd (a lot of Dynamite Comics) art in this issue. While it’s not the most detailed comic out there, Stanton’s exaggerated style feels appropriate for this book. Boyd’s vibrant  colors make the proceedings feel lively and compliments Stanton’s artwork. But while action scenes look dynamic, the scenes in Adam and Conners normal life look awkward as characters faces look wonky and character models feel generic.

Overall, I enjoyed the first issue of Starbrand and Nightmask, warts and all. The characters are well written with Weisman’s signature brand of dialogue and story motifs. The art while inconsistent, matches the tone for this story. If you want a fun, light hearted story and are a fan of Greg Weisman’s work on television, check out Starbrand and Nightmask. 
 Here’s hoping future installments will provide some execution to all of this world building because this comic has so much untapped potential.

Pros:

  • Great cast of characters
  • Lots of snarky banter and teenage drama.
  • Won’t get cancelled after two seasons



Cons:

  • Uninspired premise
  • All set up, no pay off.
  • Inconsistant art

Verdict: READ IT

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