Review: Zodiac Starforce #4, The Final Issue – We Has Sads

Zodiac Starforce #1 Variant cover, writer Kevin Panetta, artist Paulina Ganucheau, cover artist Marguerite Savage, Dark Horse Comics 2015

Zodiac Starforce #4 Kevin Panetta (script), Paulina Ganucheau (art) Dark Horse February 10, 2015Zodiac Starforce #4

Kevin Panetta (script), Paulina Ganucheau (art)
Dark Horse
February 10, 2015

After a three month delay, the final issue of Zodiac Starforce is out and ready for Angel’s, Desiree’s, and Ginnis’ final thoughts!

Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance review from Dark Horse and may contain spoilers.

There was a bit of a delay on this final issue; how was the wait for you?

Ginnis: I read so many comics that it can be pretty easy for one to drop off my radar if there is a delay, but I was actually checking each month for this one—only to see the issue kept getting pushed back. I don’t mind when that happens because comic creators have lives and stuff, and I think it’s a testament to this comic that it stayed on my radar.

Desiree: I’m terribly busy with work, freelance, and college life but this series was a thought in the back of my mind since the last issue. I’m glad to see it back and with a strong issue at that.

Angel: I didn’t even realize this was the last issue! I thought we were in for a nice long set of arcs, so this news makes me sad. I would really love to have seen more of the girls’ stories.

Was the conclusion what you anticipated?

Ginnis: I think so—very traditional themes of good versus evil, light versus dark. I think in some ways it became even more Sailor Moon-y than I anticipated, and I am not sure if that is a good thing or not.

Desiree: I feel the same as Ginnis, the ending was very reminiscent of Sailor Moon, right down to the scout circle that saves the day in the end. I wish there had been more time spent on developing Savi and Lily’s relationship and explaining why Lily was able to become a Starforce Scout as it were. I also wanted to see what happened to Diana. I felt like she was not just abandoned by the Big Bad, but forgotten by the narrative. I get page limits, but a panel or two showing her in jail or even dying would have been nice.

Even so, I’m a sucker for a happy ending. I can’t say there was anything new to it, except the addition of Savi and Lily which I loved, but it was overall solid. I like happy endings with friendship, and the story itself felt resolved which I appreciated. I’ve grown tired of stories that leave too much open, leaving plot threads to hang in hopes of a sequel, etc.

Angel: I wasn’t all that surprised by the ending, but I did enjoy it! I will echo your thoughts, Ginnis and Desiree, about it feeling very Sailor Moon, especially with Lily becoming something like Chibi-Usa/Black Lady in this issue. Savi’s connection with her was a great way to update the story—I am always here for queer characters of colour and their happy endings.

While this is a team book, Emma is considered the leader of the group. How do you feel about Emma’s storyline?

Ginnis: This was where the Sailor Moon comparison seemed most evident to me. I appreciate that Emma has complex feelings, but she just seemed so much like Sailor Moon with her constant self-doubt and crying as the team leader—and the facial expressions only solidified that impression. I would actually like to see the idea of the traditional team dynamic with a clear leader eliminated. I think a magical girl team would benefit from a team dynamic where the roles change—especially since this is a comic targeted at younger girls.

Desiree: I’m confused about Emma. I want to like her, I believe I even do like her, but the most relatable aspect about her is the death of her mother. It’s the one singular thing that sets her apart from other Magical Girl Leaders out there. I’m not sure why she’s still self-doubting herself as a leader when she’s led the team before and won. But I really enjoyed her struggles about dealing with her mother’s death. I felt that was the most human aspect of her story, over the typical magical girl leader struggles.

Sidebar: Is Emma a woman of color? In some panels she’s colored pretty brown, especially in comparison to Savi and Kim. I can see her as Afro-Latina, but I’m honestly not sure.

Angel: I don’t really feel much for Emma, which was something I hoped would change as the comic went on. Now that we’re in the last issue, I can’t say that I like her more or less. She’s remained pretty constant throughout the story arc, but I paid much more attention to the other characters than her. Does that make Emma a good leader, in that she supports and brings her team’s strengths to the forefront instead of taking up space? I wish I had a straightforward answer, but with the comic’s end, I don’t know that I’ll get that.

What about Lily and Savi?

Ginnis: Ah, squishy feels! And Lily became a member! I was so happy when that happened, and her costume was great—Paulina Ganucheau has such a way with color.

Desiree: More full splash pages of these two kissing. I was a sucker for their entire scene, I knew Savi was going to save Lily with love; it’s a classic trope. But the trope was engaging here because it involved an interracial relationship between two women. That’s how you update and modernize an old tired trope for something new and engaging. I loved their entire sequence even if I felt their relationship was a bit rushed, in the end I wasn’t overly bothered by it.

Angel: I love, love, love Lily and Savi! They seem to have one of those jigsaw puzzle relationships that just fit together so perfectly, but I would definitely be up for seeing how they continue to grow together.

Zodiac Starforce #4 Kevin Panetta (script), Paulina Ganucheau (art) Dark Horse February 10, 2015Can we talk about the art?

Ginnis: I really can’t say enough about Ganucheau’s colors—the shift from saturated hues in the mortal realm versus the celestial colors and textures of the goddess’ realm. It’s making me itch for a galaxy tattoo! Also, there’s just so much good hair in this comic.

Desiree: I do love the bright pastels used in the story. It’s like cotton candy went to lunch with a basket of cupcakes. I’m over dark modernizations of classic stories or tropes. I want a bright, colorful magical girl story that brings the diversity and updates in new ways that aren’t lazy. The art reflects a lot of the classic tropes and stylings of the magical girl genre, but with the bonus of having more people of color and the attempt of different body types.

That being said, Ganucheau struggles sometimes with their lines. I noticed some missteps with their action scenes, and how the girls’ bodies looked disproportionate in some scenes.

Do you want to see more of Zodiac Starforce now that the series is done? (Though, there have been hints that it may continue with a new arc.)

Ginnis: I would like to see it continue. I’m invested in these characters, and I want to see more of them and less of Emma. And while we got to see Lily and Savi, I want to see them more apart and learn more about them as individuals (but please don’t break them up, creators, ‘k?!). I liked the epilogue, and I hope that means a new arc is in the works and this won’t be the last of the team. We need more magical girl comics, especially ones with different body shapes and hair shapes!

Desiree: The epilogue got me really interested. I want to know who those other members were, and what the girls are going to do now. I want to see Lily become a full fledged member and learn more about her powers. I’m sad to see the series end because there’s lot of potential to be had with it. I do hope people order the trade because the series should continue.

Angel: I do wish that we could look forward to more Zodiac Starforce. Girls being friends and supporting each other and fighting with and for each other? I can’t have enough of those stories.

Ginnis Tonik

Ginnis Tonik

Smashing the patriarchy with glitter, pink lipstick, and cowboy boots. You can follow her on Instagram @ginnistonik

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