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STARWARD—“Happy twentieth to me”

Writer: Steve Orlando

Artist: Ivan Shavrin

Heavy Metal, 2022

FINALLY A REAL GODDESS appears. She is one of seven daughters of Atlas scattered “all of time ago” by invading Kaos on the day Atlas flinched (or shrugged), “drawing blood before the dew had dried on creation.”

Good start. An interstellar drama sweeps across the opening spread in STARWARD #1 before swerving abruptly to today, new in 2022, facing a normal young woman waking up with a dream in her genes gurgling to the surface. For today she turns 20. Soon, synchronized to the minute of her birth, she reconnects with her all-of-time-ago self, costume and all.

When I say it out loud like this, it sounds yawningly familiar. But really. This is the first time it actually happens. You are going to want to see this for yourself.

This story attracted me first by the evocative title. Starward is a direction, a spring swooshing beyond and farther onward. When I first held the cover, I felt the letters “Starward” pulsing, surrounded by a radiating design of stylized swords and spears and stars. The design is repeated throughout on all the pages as a graphic element along the bottom on a broad white band, jogged up and down by changes in the size of the panels. The whole thing, even the structure, is made to rock and move with an extraordinary, and deliberate sense of energy.

The art by Ivan Shavrin looks like a cartoon, yet is also immaculately real and attractive, suited to the upbeat manner in the way the characters speak and act. Scenes stream by with pleasant vivacity. The script by Steve Orlando is smart and relaxed.

Naturally, this idyll ends soon. Given a foretaste on the final page, interstellar eruptions are going to snap away the veneer and everything may change. Next time bring a rocket pack.