Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Starling by Sage Stossel

Sage Stossel's Starling is a lighthearted graphic novel in full colour. It plays with the superhero tropes of comics, turning them inside out and hanging them to drip dry on the shower curtain bar. It made me think of Michael Brennan's Electric Girl (minus her gremlin), grown into adulthood with a career in marketing. It also brought to mind the examined relationship between protector and protected in Steven Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen's It's a Bird.

Stossel's procrastinating superhero, Amy Sturgess, has supernatural strength and speed. She can fly and shoot electricity from her hands. Recruited by the Vigilante Justice Association while still in her teens, Amy takes on a secret identity: Starling. There's a hilarious sequence where the VJA sorts out her costume.
"Who's your costume designer? A thirteen-year-old boy?"
"Actually, yes."

Amy struggles to find balance in her life while being constantly interrupted by emergency calls. Xanax and therapy are her coping strategies. Crime never sleeps, but Amy gets tired of always being a hero. She also has to come up with a reason for constantly dashing off, so her excuse is irritable bowel syndrome.

Meanwhile, Amy has an ambitious colleague who wants her accounts; a deadbeat brother who's been crashing at her place; a former sweetheart, now married, who has rekindled her romantic interest; and a mother who lives with 36 cats. Luckily, Amy has a supportive circle of friends to help her out.
Not a good place to hide something valuable...
Stossel's paintings are charming and her dialogue is often very funny. I loved Starling.

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