Steven Universe: Anti-Gravity
Rebecca Sugar (Series Creator), Talya Perper (Writer), Queenie Chan & Jenna Ayoub (Artists), Laura Langston with Vladimir Popov & Eleonora Bruni (Colorists), Mike Fiorentino (Letterer), Sara Talmadge (Cover Artist)
November 7th, 2017
BOOM! Studios’ graphic novel release Steven Universe: Anti-Gravity is as charming and wholesome as its source.
Though it doesn’t offer any new substantive information about Homeworld, the Crystal Gems, or the direction of the series in general, Anti-Gravity addresses the ongoing tonal shift that has been developing in the show for some time. After witnessing firsthand the tragedy of the Gem War, as well as the cold tyranny of the Homeworld gems, Steven begins to come to terms with the role he will play in this ongoing conflict. Whereas before Steven was a simple happy-go-lucky kid, now he is one of the world’s only protectors against a harsh, unforgiving force. When there is now so much to lose, Steven begins to take his role with a new degree of seriousness.
In a lot of ways, Anti-Gravity plays out like almost any episode of the show. The book opens on a carefree afternoon in Beach City — Steven is teaching Amethyst how to flip pancakes while Pearl cleans in her unnecessarily graceful fashion and Garnet chills on the sofa— when suddenly things begin to get a little weird. The pancakes start floating in mid–air, and then Ronaldo, resident conspiracy theorist and part time fry cook, arrives, banging frantically on the door and screaming about aliens. The show’s sense of humor carries over too, especially in silly gags like when Garnet, upon hearing Ronaldo’s proclamation of “Aliens!”, wordlessly proceeds to slam the door in his face.
What’s most refreshing about this graphic novel is how it maintains the heart of the show: the importance of supportive, caring relationships. When Steven isn’t sure if he has made the right decision after a falling out with Ronaldo, Garnet is there to give him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. When Steven is troubled about things he can’t even explain, the Gems are there, encouraging him to share and willing to listen patiently. Steven’s feelings are important, and the Gems take them seriously. Even when Steven commits himself to fighting off invaders, the Gems help him understand that even when all you feel is the force of gravity, you still aren’t glued to the ground.
The art style differs slightly from the tv show, but captures the essence of each character, even in their mannerisms. Queenie Chan and Jenna Ayoub’s art makes adorable characters even more adorable: Steven appears smaller, with simple, but expressive, round black eyes, and a fluffier tuft of hair. The use of bold, black lines at times is to the graphic novel’s detriment— overpowering background characters and cluttering complex facial expressions— but these moments are rare. It also deserves mentioning that the color-heavy world of Steven Universe is skillfully rendered in the book; colors are vibrant, but not abrasively clashing.
Likewise, Sara Talmadge’s cover art, with Steven’s rosy cheeks and toothy grin paired with a dreamy evening on the beach, is heart-melting. The only true crime and tragedy of the graphic novel is that the cover misleadingly includes Connie, Steven’s best friend, when she fails to appear in the book at all, even as a background character.
Anti-Gravity, despite its few and fleeting faults, manages to create an enjoyable side adventure, embodying the best of what the show has to offer.