Story: Kevin Panetta
Art: Paulina Ganucheau
What They Say:
Desperate to save team leader Emma, the rest of Zodiac Starforce risk opening a portal to the dangerous realm of Nephos to find a cure. But when the tiny portal rips asunder and monsters start spilling out of it and overrunning the town, Zodiac Starforce will need all the help they can get to defeat the evil goddess Cimmeria, her monster legion, and her mean-girl minion Diana. It’s a monster mash, but Zodiac Starforce is ready to crash this party!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Zodiac Starforce is certainly a fun series to read overall with what it does simply because it’s so familiar. With it playing with love in regards to the world of manga, magical girls and more, there’s a good sense of respect towards it all while doing it all up in their own flavor. The first half of this arc did a lot of the heavy lifting in introducing us to the cast and the way they had been done with it all for a bit before getting drawn back in. That worked very well to establish a history that you could fill in the blanks on without having to actually go through it all. This is, in a sense, the meatier story of what happens afterward that can be pretty interesting and fun to work through.
And it does go up in a really neat way here that has me curious to see just how far they’ll go with it. Now that the portal is opened and cannot be close, the general plan is to get to it on the other side of town and go through to try and save Emma. There’s reticence on Emma’s part about anyone else getting involved, but this is fairly standard minor team conflict/resolution material. The fun with all of this is that the gang has to deal with the horde of evil that has started to come through on their journey to the portal. With Emma being kept at Lily’s to be watched over, it lets the team just go all out and do what they have to do. Of course, into every plan comes a problem and that’s when Alice and others swipe both Emma and Lily to take them to Diana as part of Diana’s larger plan.
While we’ve had a general mean girl vibe coming off of Diana from what we’ve seen of her so far, this installment provides her backstory and makes her far more interesting. Yes, there are shades of Madoka Magica to be had here as previous Zodiac teams are revealed, dark fates for most of them it appears, and just what Diana herself went through. It’s a solid piece of darkness that’s introduced and it gives her a really engaging story to work with, especially in how she switched sides and brought her friends back to life in some form. Vengeance is a difficult banner to carry in a really compelling way and there isn’t enough time to do it here fully, but combined with the scope of what we’ve gotten so far and the overall backstory, it hits a lot better than it should and really amps up the interest in what’s to come.
Zodiac Starforce is concluding in the next installment (this arc? this miniseries?) but there’s going to be more to come in the future. What we get here is pretty strong overall as we get lots of character material, some basic exposition and character setting pieces and a sense of proper homage and love to the origins of so much of this in anime and manga. The result is a book that doesn’t delve into fluff or filler but hits the big points and runs with them. Panetta handles this well while Ganucheau translates it perfectly to the page, giving us a colorful and energetic incarnation that feels like a love letter with a twist on what’s come before. I’m curious to see how it’ll end and where it’ll go after all of this though.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: November 11th, 2015