The magical girl team of Zodiac Starforce makes a triumphant comeback in this follow-up series to the original run by writer Kevin Panetta, art by Paulina Ganucheau, and colors by Sarag Stern. Led by Emma, this Starforce takes all the right lessons from classic, magical girl teams like Sailor Moon. It’s about friendship, love, and hope in the face of darkness while at the same time tackling what it means to be a young woman in this modern era.
While the first series dropped us right into the mix with no set up (which was brilliantly done), the new series catches us up to where the girls are now. After their previous victory over the force of evil, Cimmeria, the girls have spent their time training, socializing, and being teenagers, but life can’t go on like that – not for heroes – because there are always villains to ruin a normal life. A familiar group of mean girls – in an attempt to summon Cimmeria again – manage to wreak some chaos just for the reader’s sake, and Zodiac Starforce rises to the occasion. These mean girl moments push into the territory of smart satire, poking fun at the backstabbing world that high school can be.
Panetta’s casual diversity and inclusion is a greatly welcome sight in a comic industry still plagued with a lack of ethniciies, body types, and sexual orientations. He’s not making a statement, it’s just the way it is (and should be). He writes with humor and doesn’t push the story into melodramatic territory, but keeps the characters and situations pretty well grounded. Ganucheau and Stern give us a colorful world that’s just cartoony enough that the over-the-top elements fit perfectly with the more realistic elements. Zodiac Starforce is a joy to read and good for all ages – boys, and girls. The talent is strong and the messages are excellent. It’s definitely worth following the continuing adventures of these heroes.