DC Universe Presents #18
Without Honor or Humanity
This is the second to last issue of DC Universe Presents, and it focuses on none other than Red Hood and the Outlaws' best naked heroine, Starfire. Starfire is a bit of a conundrum to me. She is gentle with her teammates yet a merciless warrior in many cases, and still, she is willing to forgive the deepest betrayals from her sister. Early on, she was said to have memory troubles, but now she seems more aware, so what is the deal with that? Out of the three main characters in RHATO, I would say Kori is the least fleshed out, (with the most flesh out) so it seems like it will be a challenge to give her a solo story which really stands up.
To meet this challenge, we have writer Joe Keatinge (current writer of Image's Glory, Image's H*** Yeah!, Morbius: The Living Vampire, The Amazing Spider-Man, and DC Universe Presents) who wrote the hilarious Arsenal issue in last month's DC Universe Presents, so that inspires some confidence. Handling the pencils, we have an artist I have never encountered, Federico Dallocchio. (former artist for Arkham Unhinged and penciler for Wildstorm's Starcraft and current penciler for DC Universe Presents and artist for Insurgent) Do these two manage to deliver a Starfire story which deserves to be lifted up to the heavens or will this issue fill you with a burning rage for revenge?
In this issue, Starfire allows herself to be recaptured by her former slavers in order to lead other slaves to freedom.
1. Starfire is wearing clothes and looking presentable. This is awesome.
2. This issue uses a convoluted time line starting in the middle of the story, then jumping back to the beginning before abruptly lurching forward in increments for a couple pages to get readers caught up. It then proceeds to, periodically, jump to the past. I think the story would have worked better if it were in chronological order and designed to build instead of designed to jerk.
3. There is a joke which is mildly amusing about how a word certain creatures are using is untranslatable, but it is killed to be altogether annoying by popping up a half dozen times through the issue.
(Spoilers until Conclusion)
4. If this issue has a message, it's rather muddled, but one thing that is clear is that Kori's pride gets her in trouble. Dasimm says the village thinks Starfire should go, but Starfire says that is a lie. However, the end of the story would indicate that it was probably a true statement.
5. Unless it is some kind of dueling ritual, it makes no sense that Dasimm did not run Kori through before she could stand.
6. The betrayal was surprising, but again, I find myself unsure of what to make of it. More so than anything else, I just see the arrogance of Starfire by coming into the situation and establishing herself as liberator without really asking the people if they wanted to be liberated.
7. In the end, a character is revealed as having sought out Starfire. The character is identified on ComicVine as Fangfeng, the Killer Croc wannabe Arsenal saved in the last issue. If that is the case, I have no idea what is happening.
I really hate to give this issue such a low score. The art looks nice, and the dialogue is good. The setting for the story and the basic story itself were both very interesting and ripe with potential. However, the story is structured a bit messily in a way that might be trying to go for quirky but feels more like slipshod. More importantly, the theme of the issue is rather unclear. I'm still trying to puzzle out what, if anything, the story was meant to convey. As for good old fashioned, “Is is fun?” factor, I have to say no because it ends on a down note. If I felt like I learned something about the world or Starfire through this negativity, then maybe it would be okay, but other than seeing Kori as a bit out of touch, I did not learn anything. I'm tempted to say that die hard Starfire fans or RHATO fans will want to pick this up, but given the bummer ending, I do not think I can even say that much.
For more news, reviews, and commentary for the entire Bat Family, check out BatWatch.net.