Zodiac Starforce: Lumberjanes Meets Sailor Moon

by James Ferguson

You’d think after saving the world a few times, this group of magically powered teenage girls would get a break. That is not the case for Zodiac Starforce. Previously, they stopped the evil Diana from banishing team leader Emma (aka Gemini) to another dimension. Now, joined by new team member Lily (aka Libra), they’re called upon once again to stop a pair of new monsters that have popped up in town while a new evil works against them in the shadows.

What is immediately apparent about Zodiac Starforce, in both the original series, and this new one, Cries of the Fire Prince from Dark Horse Comics, is how much fun it is. This is a comic you’ll read with a smile on your face from beginning to end. The team is the farthest thing from dark and broody (sorry, Batman) and they seem to genuinely love what they’re doing. Imagine if you got to save the world with your friends a few times using magic super powers and wearing snazzy costumes.
The series espouses friendship and positivity, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with these messages. This could have very quickly turned into a public service announcement or after school special. Instead, the creative team (writer Kevin Panetta, artist Paulina Ganucheau, and colorist Sarah Stern) put this into the characters themselves. Every fiber of their being is bursting with energy and excitement, whether that’s Kim’s rush to a fight or Emma’s ability to bring everyone together.

This issue is a bit darker than the previous series. The monsters the team fights are pretty gruesome on their own, creating bulbous masses around common household objects like a dishwasher, however there are some unsettling panels towards the end as the big bad of this book makes its move. This is handled well. Ganucheau allows you to fill in the blanks with your mind, showing the moments before and after the act, implying the worst. Shadow is used very effectively here.

Zodiac Starforce is a mix of Lumberjanes and Sailor Moon with a bit of Rainbow Brite thrown in. It’s a super fun comic that will speak to any fan of classic team shows of the 1990’s like Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. It’s also a very inclusive book. You could give it to just about anyone and they’d enjoy it. You don’t have to have read the first series to pick up on what’s going on, although you totally should because it’s a great read.
Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince debuts on July 5th, 2017 in comic shops and digitally.

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