Steven Universe is back today from KaBoom, returning for a second series with a new #1 issue for 2017. The comic, based on the animated series currently in its fourth season and created by Rebecca Sugar, is appropriate for all ages of readers, but adults are likely to find it not only charming but thought-provoking. After all, the animated series is relentlessly progressive, and judging from this first issue of the new comic series, so is this comic world. This new series is written by Melanie Gillman, drawn by Katy Farina, whose work you may know from The Amazing World of Gumball, colored by Whitney Cogar, and lettered by Mike Fiorentino.
Issue #1 follows events for Steven, Lapis, and Peridot, when they encounter a baby bird who has fallen from their nest. A great debate ensues about what to do for the bird and what could be more dramatic than a life and death situation for an “ugly baby”, as Peridot calls them. I’m using the word “them” to refer to the bird because the comic does, and this strikes me as being one of the best choices I’ve seen in comics in a long while. It’s such a simple thing to acknowledge the lack of known gender for the bird by using “they” and “them”, but it strikes a chord regarding self-identification and gender fluidity that resonates with the inclusive themes of the world of Steven Universe as created by Rebecca Sugar.
But that isn’t the only salutory feature of this comic. There is also a simple ethical question posed that does not have simple answers. When Steven discovers the baby bird, he of course wants to save it somehow, but how? He learns that there are several options, none of them necessarily better or wiser than the others. Some even pose risks of penalty even though they seem to be the “right thing” to do. As Steven, Lapis, and Peridot approach the problem with their unique personalities, we get to hear more direct and humorous dialogue about animal care, the need to “let go”, and a return to the idea that good deeds are their own reward.
It’s a refreshing, sprightly first issue for the return of Steven Universe today, and one bound to expand on a world already beloved by fans.