Spawned from the Earth itself as a planetary defense mechanism, Kevin Connor has become Starbrand. Now, with his partner, the enigmatic cosmic being called Nightmask, Kevin faces his most difficult challenge yet: College!
Your Major Spoilers review of Starbrand And Nightmask #1 awaits!
STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK #1
Writer: Greg Weisman
Artist: Domo Stanton
Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Katie Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Starbrand And Nightmask: “Beings of unspeakable power. Former Avengers. Cosmic entities who have defended Earth at the far reaches of the cosmos. Yet their greatest adventure is upon them – going to college! Imbued with tremendous cosmic power and almost zero life experience – nothing will prepare them for the likes of class registration, choosing a major and midterms. Learning to be the heroes they were meant to be whilst learning all there is to know about sharing a dorm room. It takes more than superpowers to be a hero…”
NOT YOUR FATHER’S NEW UNIVERSE
We open with our cosmic heroes in action against The Blizzard, and frankly? It feels a bit unfair, given that Blizz can shoot ice out of his hands, and both ‘Mask and ‘Brand can alter the gravitic coefficient of the universe on a whim. Indeed, the battle is short, as Starbrand transformed the ice attacks into stone, which then knock him unconscious. As they wrap up the villain’s attack (on the Great Wall of China for some reason?), Roberto “Sunspot” DaCosta, ramrod of one of the Avengers teams, arrives to offer them slots on his team. Nightmask turns Sunspot down, as he and Kevin have decided to go back to college.
Well, at least he has. Kevin is still a bit shaken by his last attempt at matriculation, given that his Starbrand manifestation destroyed a large chunk of the school and killed most of his friends. The rest of the issue features Kevin and “Adam Blackveil” (Nightmask’s new alias, which he describes as an “easter egg”) moving into their dorm and trying to fit in before being forced to face down the threat of Nitro and Graviton!
FEELS A LITTLE BIT CALCULATED
This issue is kind of fun, and I don’t mind the idea of young folks with mighty powers trying to get acclimated to humanity (I loved the New Warrirors, after all) but these characters feel like an odd fit for that story. Set up during Hickman’s Avengers run as one thing, seeing them transition to average Joe and deadpan snarker feels like a conscious attempt to recapture the lightning of Ms. Marvel in a new bottle. Indeed, the dorm in which they live is the same dorm in which Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green lives, and she and her squirrel partner make a cameo in this issue, adding to the feeling of being railroaded. That said, it’s not a bad issue, and I’m genuinely wondering what happened to NItro and Graviton to turn them both into crazy homeless drifter-types. and the interplay of the characters is well-handled. Nightmask’s adoption of human guise is humorous, though, and there is charm in the art of Domo Stanton, giving the characters a loose economy that I really enjoy. Heck, the issue even works hard to overcome the intense revulsion I feel for the character of Nitro after his use in ‘Civil War’ and that truly awful issue of Wolverine a few years ago.
THE BOTTOM LINE: FEELS CONFLICTED, BUT FUN
Even if the book tries a little to hard to cultivate the young, hip vibe it wants, there’s still entertainment to be had in these pages, with some lovely art, and perhaps a new lease on life for characters whose existence spun out of the disastrous 1986 New Universe project. (Ask your parents, kids. Or, actually… Ask me. Later. Like, maybe some Sunday afternoon?) Starbrand and Nightmask #1 is a book with potential in the all-new all-different vein of things, taking two of the more enigmatic pieces of Avengers World and putting them in a whole new setting, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. If nothing else, our ‘Kickers, Inc.’ revival is one step more likely…