The reason I have all eight issues of this 1970s DC science fiction series is three-fold: 1) all my copies are in fair condition at best and at most cost me maybe a couple of bucks; 2) Who’s Who; 3) Shag.
The last two are intertwined sort of. I first learned of this character from Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe when I collected the series through the back issue bins when I was a teenager. “Starfire I? Starfire II?” I said, knowing that there was only one Starfire I was reading about, the one in The New Teen Titans. But before Koriand’r, there was this version of “Red Sonja in Space,” a stand-alone character created by David Micheline and Mike Vosburg whose first issue appeared in 1976 but was canceled at the end of 1977. Then, Shag went and covered her on an episode of the Who’s Who podcast and it made me want to read all of the series. So, he owes me money.
Anyway, the premise is that our titular character is a young woman who was raised in captivity and after being rescued and set free learns the value of such freedom and fights to liberate her entire planet from a race of alien beings. She eventually succeeds at doing so, but other threats loom and she is the constant leader of the revolution and a perpetual freedom fighter. Yes, it’s reminiscient of a number of books that came before it and would come after it, and it’s clear that DC was doing a pastiche of trendy movies and other comics series for the time. But honestly that’s fine because I liked it.
David Micheline, in my mind, did the quintessential Marvel Star Wars run (with art by Walt Simonson and Tom Palmer) and I can spot the seeds of those stories in this book. Mike Vosburg is inked by Bob Smith on the first issue and the artwork is dynamic and gorgeous–the type of stuff that holds up well against what Marvel was doing in its sword and sorcery books. Unfortunately, Vince Colletta inks most of the rest of the series and it loses something. The book also loses something in the constant rotation of writers, even if those writers are solid: Eliott S! Maggin, Steve Englehart, and Tom DeFalco. Four writers over eight issues does not for consistency make and I can see why this book might have had a hard time find and audience or its footing.
Still, I enjoyed it. All four writers know how to tell a good story and since this is the era of “you have to at least wrap something up every issue,” I felt like I was getting my money’s worth every time I finished a comic. And yes, my copies aren’t in the best condition, so none of these are “collectable,” but unlike, say the issues of Stalker or Sword of Sorcery that I picked up on the cheap, Starfire kept me engaged and actually left me wanting more than what was there.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?