Kevina Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau, Savanna Ganucheau
Dark Horse $3.99
I’ll be honest; I initially wrote off Zodiac Starforce, mostly because it really didn’t seem like my thing. I have a passing familiarity with Sailor Moon, and gave it a go plenty of times while growing up, but it was something that never caught my interest the way Dragon Ball Z or Gundam Wing did. I recognize it as an important work that obviously connected with a ton of people globally, but ultimately not my thing, especially when it’s called Sailor Moon Crystal.
My wife on the other hand, is very much a fan of the one they call Sailor Moon. So when she passed the Zodic Starforce banner at the Dark Horse booth during Rose City Comic Con, she made it a point to pick up the first issue. Issue 2 dropped this week, and since my pull list was light, I figured I would read issues 1 and 2 give it a shot.
Zodiac Starforce has a cool enough concept. The premise is that a bunch of Zodiac related teenage magical girls have been retired for the last 2 years, and have grown slightly apart. However the threats they thought they vanquished have apparently returned, and one of their own life is now endangered. Writer Kevin Panetta masterfully injects a healthy dose of drama and mystery surrounding the plot, casually dropping hints as to what events cause the group to slip apart, all while fleshing out the characters. Sadly some of the dialogue feels stiff and forced sometimes, but never to the point where the book is unreadable. But I REALLY dig the premise, and I hope Panetta continues to flesh out the world and it’s inhabitants more as the mini series continues.
The one area where Zodiac Starforce does suffer sadly is in the visuals. While the colors by Savanna Ganucheau are bright, clean and occasionally psychedelic in cool way, the art by Paulina Ganucheau is more stiff and uneven. I don’t generally mind manga-influence art, I mean have you’ve seen my reviews for Babs Tarr works for crying out loud, but Paulina’s stuff looks more like faux-Anime influence (think Totally Spies, or other mid 2000s cartoon trying to ape anime), with some awkward posing and facial expressions. It improves a bit in issue 2, especially towards the end of the book, so hopefully that trend will continue as the book moves forward. But having talented artists like Kevin Wada and Marguerite Sauvage contribute wonderful covers doesn’t help the interior art out at all. It’s also important to recognize that this is her first big comics work, so maybe I could ease up on it a bit.
Zodiace Starforce is a book that my wife really digs and I’m warm towards, but would have probably waited for a trade to read. Then again, I’m not exactly the targeted demographic, so your mileage may vary, especially if you’re into Sailor Moon or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But as someone who really digs comparable and excellent works like Lumberjanes, Fresh Romance, and Batgirl, Zodiac Starforce didn’t do much for me, even with some really cool and fun stuff scattered about the first 2 issues.