Advance Review: ‘Stargazer #1’ Hits With Big X-Files Energy

by James Ferguson

I will always have a soft spot for alien abduction stories after watching Fire in the Sky at a young age. That movie freaked me out and made quite an impression. That’s why I was so intrigued by Stargazer when it was first announced. This is right up my alley. The series follows Shae and her brother Kenny after they experience what some might call a close encounter, although others just think young Kenny is crazy. Years later, Kenny has not forgotten what he’s seen, but no one believes him. They change their tune when he suddenly disappears.

There’s definitely a bit of that “I want to believe” feeling previously seen in The X-Files with Stargazer. What kid doesn’t want to look to the stars and wonder what else awaits out there? Hell, I still do that as an adult. There’s an innocence to Kenny. He’s the dorky kid brother that is perfectly content looking up at the night sky by himself, but he’s also excited to be included in his big sister’s party.

Artist Antonio Fuso does a brilliant job designing these characters as well as framing the scenes. The traumatic event in the past is not shown, but implied. You can fill in the gaps in your mind as to what happened to the poor kid on that fateful night. Similarly, when we jump ahead to the present, we see how that night changed Kenny’s life forever, both mentally and physically. He was never the same after that. This is shown with a number of key details, some small and some large. It all comes together beautifully.

Although Shae is frustrated by her brother’s obsession with the stars, she is still loyal to him. She loves him and wants what’s best for him. The guilt of that night haunts her to this day and that certainly plays a part in how she treats Kenny, although that only goes so far. You can see that frustration play out in some great sequences. Much is implied in Fuso’s artwork without writer Anthony Cleveland having to say it outright.

Letterer Justin Birch adds so much weight to the dialogue, particularly the conversation between Shae and Kenny. Although we’ve only seen them in two brief periods of their lives, we fully understand what they’ve been through over all these years thanks to how they speak to each other and how curt some of the dialogue can be.

While there’s still an inkling that all of this is in Kenny’s mind, Stargazer is presented in such a way that you’re almost forced to believe it too. You’re along for the ride. Colorist Stefano Simeone brings this sleepy town to life with bursts of colors, most notably reds and blues. These really stand out when there’s talk of extraterrestrial life. Simeone contrasts that with the utter normalcy of Shae’s life outside of Kenny’s orbit.

When there is an alleged alien interaction, it comes across an explosion of blinding white light. It’s like the sun is right outside your window, even for the briefest of moments. This is quite a shock and really ups the tension in the story.

Stargazer has some big X-Files energy and that’s definitely a good thing. It captures that sense of wonder and amazement that we’ve all had at one point in our lives when we look up at the stars. What is really out there? Judging from this debut issue, we’re in for a treat…a terrifying, yet awesome treat.

Stargazer #1 from Mad Cave Studios was originally set for release in May 2020. With Diamond’s delays in shipments, we’ll see if that gets pushed back.

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