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‘Stargazer #1:’ Comic Book Review

An unexplained accident turns a night of amateur astronomy into one family’s greatest trauma. What happened to Kenny remained shrouded in mystery for decades, but now, answers are beginning to emerge from beyond the stars. Writer Anthony Cleveland, artist Antonio Fuso, and independent publisher Mad Cave Studios turn our gaze upward with the visually arresting Stargazer #1.

Years ago, Shae, her younger brother Kenny, and two other friends were accidentally dosed with LSD while playing in the woods. Shae surfaced from the haze on top of a water tower, just in time to see Kenny fall from the balcony ledge. He survived the injuries, but the incident scarred him for life. In the present day, Kenny still insists that what they experienced was an alien abduction, much to his sister’s chagrin. Her own life in disarray, Shae is ready to turn her back on Kenny when he suddenly disappears.

The opening act of Stargazer, like any great alien abduction story, draws in the reader by unveiling a myriad of mysteries. Not the least of which is a short prologue, where a strange carcass is discovered in the Sahara Desert. Stargazer #1 also gives readers an excellent sense of the two main characters, Shae and Kenny. Before the accident, they were very close, but as adults Shae has no patience for her brother’s unhealthy behaviors. But despite their dysfunction, the final pages of the book reveal an uncanny connection between the two siblings.

Fuso’s illustrations and Stefano Simeone’s colors construct a phenomenal world of inescapable twilight. The book is bathed in beautiful violets and cool magentas that fill the panels with brisk evening air. Fuso strikes a stark, but balanced, contrast between highlight and shadow, especially in the last few pages as the mystery takes off. The stars are rendered with paint splatters, seeming simultaneously intentional and random, much like the real night sky. And while certain time jumps in the story were somewhat visually confusing, overall the book was well plotted. Fuso uses a variety of layouts to buttress the story, grids during slow moments, and overlapping diagonals for moments of confusion and conflict.

The next chapter of Stargazer promises a reunion of Shea and her childhood friends, and more secrets uncovered as the search for Kenny begins.

Creative Team: Anthony Cleveland (writer), Antonio Fuso (artist), Stefano Simeone (colors) Justin Birch (letters)
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
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