I’ve always loved swashbuckling sci-fi adventures – stories in the mold of Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter, Robert E. Howard’s Almuric, or Michael Kane as penned by Michael Moorcock. These tales about earthmen being swept across the galaxy, deposited upon alien worlds, and having to vanquish all the evil natives in sight has always entertained me.
Now, before anyone says it, I know these type of stories are sugar-coated testosterone fantasies with large than life men and scantily-clad females. But every once in a while, there isn’t anything wrong with indulging in that, is there?
As I’ve gotten older (Yeah, it happens to all of us no matter how hard we resist) the charm of these young swashbuckling supermen has diminished somewhat. (Guess, I just do not relate to them as much since I’m not a young, would-be superman anymore.) But when I stumbled upon Mark Millar’s quirky twist on this old favorite, I had to give it a try.
Starlight tells the tale of Duke McQueen; a one time astronaut who forty years ago found himself cast across the universe to an alien world. Once there, he became a swashbuckling legend, helping the adoring natives cast off the chains of slavery, vanquish a vile overlord, and earn a place at the side of a beautiful queen. But guess what?
Duke McQueen gave up all the fame and adoration to return home to earth. There he found no one believed his stories. Instead, he was labeled a delusional nut-job and exited stage right to a small town and an invisible job with his loving wife.
Years have passed. Duke McQueen isn’t a young guy anymore. His kids have grown up, married and have kids of their own. His wife has recently passed away. In fact, Duke is beginning to feel that life has nothing left for him . . . . until a spaceship piloted by a strange boy from the world he once saved comes begging the hero McQueen to save his home once again!
Will the elder Duke McQueen go back to the alien world where he was once a savior?
What will he find there?
And can he be the hero that he once was?
From this great premise, Mark Millar crafts an outstanding homage to those old sci-fi swashbuckling tales, showing Duke McQueen as a John Carter-type hero and then revealing what forty years of life have done to the once superman. And as he does it, a solid story develops that makes you understand Duke, empathize with his life choices, and dare to hope that somehow an older guy can still find a way to remain a hero and ride off into the sunset one last time.
As for the artwork, Goran Parlov has a unique style that really works here. While it might not be the most spectacular art I’ve ever seen, it still draws the eyes, seamlessly advances the story, and clearly delineates the real world of earth from the alien vistas that Duke McQueen has seen before and now has returned to.
Obviously, I enjoyed Starlight. It was a great twist on the old sci-fi swashbuckling tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs and others that delivered an exciting narrative that anyone can enjoy and appreciate – especially middle aged guys who wish they could relive their glory days.
Image Comics and Netgalley provided this book to me for free in return for an honest review. The review above was not paid for or influenced in any way by any person, entity or organization, but is my own personal opinions.
Buy Starlight Volume 1 at Amazon.