The GeeksverseREVIEW | Star Bright and the Looking Glass HC (Image Comics)

REVIEW | Star Bright and the Looking Glass HC (Image Comics)
Published on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 by
Jonathan Luna of the Luna Brothers (Girls, Spider-Woman: Origin, The Sword) goes solo on Star Bright and the Looking Glass, an illustrated fable about the perils of vanity and the value of true friends.

Key Review Points

Pros:

  • Jonathan Luna brings the approach that typifies the Luna Brothers’ best comics work to an all-ages project.
  • Imparts an especially relevant lesson for young readers.
  • Beautiful watercolor-and-ink art.

Cons:

  • None of significant note.

Publication Details

  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Publication Date: November 2012
  • Story and art by: Jonathan Luna
  • Format: 72 page prose hardcover with 36 full-page watercolor illustrations.
  • List Price: $19.99 (digital review copy provided free-of-charge by the publisher)
  • Availability: On sale on 28 November 2012

Page Previews (Click on images to view in larger size)

  

For more preview images, check out the Star Bright and the Looking Glass HC preview

Full Review

Jonathan and Joshua Luna, the collaborative creative team professionally known as the Luna Brothers, have spent the better part of the past eight years crafting comics exploring the female psyche and male-female relationships, or more appropriately, the female psyche and male-female relationships vis-à-vis an earnest male perspective, filtered through the various comic book genres. Ultra, their breakthrough 2004 debut at Image Comics, has been described as “Sex in the City goes superheroine.” (We realize that that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but at the time of Ultra‘s release, it was.) The follow-up, the 24-issue maxi-series Girls, viewed the young adult male’s insecurities, frustration, and struggles with navigating relationships with the opposite sex via the lens of bizarre science-fiction and alien horror. The Sword, which ran from 2007 to 2010, showed that the brothers could do all-out hack-and-slash fantasy action with the best of them, while still serving as a thoughtful rumination on the bonds of family, especially those between father and daughter.

While sometimes clumsy and heavy-handed in their use of metaphors and occasionally homiletic and far too expository in their dialogue writing—Girls was especially guilty of this, although the overall result was still fairly entertaining—the Luna Brothers offer some measure of balance and well-meaning contrast to an industry that, despite the changes in creative, editorial, and commercial attitudes these past few years, still finds ways to embarrass itself with tone-deaf and adolescent depictions of women and what can be described as instances of regressive treatment of female fans and comics professionals. (The irony of female comics professionals doing similar work while not receiving the kind of mainstream plaudits the Luna Brothers have isn’t lost on us.)

Jonathan Luna, striking out on his own as solo writer and artist, brings the same sensibility that characterized his prior work with younger sibling Joshua Luna to Star Bright and the Looking Glass, an original, illustrated prose fable from Image Comics. The Lunas’ previously demonstrated penchant for the too-on-the-nose allegory, an occasional liability in their teen- and mature-readers rated comics work, actually serves the contemporary fable of Star Bright and the Looking Glass well: The stripped-down and effective prototypical nature of the narrative makes for straightforward reading and bedtime storytelling that avoids needless ambiguity. Star Bright, an orphan raised in the wild by woodland creatures, lives a simple and carefree existence with her animal friends, untouched by such worldly concerns as vanity and fashion. That is, until she chances upon a looking glass in the forest. In short order, Star Bright becomes obsessed with her appearance and begins neglecting her four-legged and winged familiars, growing increasingly conceited and selfish. When an encounter with an evil witch robs Star Bright of her winsomeness and youth, she is put on the path to learning the value of inner beauty, confidence that is born of more than superficial measures of self-worth, and the meaning of true friendship.

The illustrated prose book format makes Star Bright and the Looking Glass a perfect bridge for the comics-fan parent, guardian, or teacher looking to help a young child transition to reading comics and graphic novels while the charming all-ages appropriate story imparts an especially relevant lesson for today’s children, who are constantly bombarded by media and advertising with unhealthy and shallow body images and attitudes. The delivery of the underlying message is helped along by Luna’s beautifully lush and detailed watercolor-and-ink full page illustrations—36 in all—which should maintain their potency through multiple readings and bedtime story retellings. Recommended.

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