Review- Zodiac Starforce #1

Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kavin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetGenre: Superhero graphic novel
Format: Hardcover library binding
Publication date: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Page count: 136
Star rating: 2.5/5

Zodiac Starforce is a group of girls who fight monsters and evil, in general. They each have a different zodiac sign and come with their own, unique powers. In this episode, Diana, the popular girl at school, tries to get the Zodiac Starforce leader to join her team of evil. The other girls must try and save their friend before she is too far gone. There is also a bit of romance on the side too, because what’s a superhero girl gang without a bit of queer girl love?

I have been on the hunt for graphic novels about groups of female superheroes for a while. I found a few, but Zodiac Starforce was the only one that my university library already had on its shelves. The rest are on their way to me! One of my favorite things about this book is the color scheme. Often, women superheroes are assigned blue and red colors. This is great, but I wish pink were also depicted as a strong, powerful color. Primary colors are not the only colors allowed to stand for superheroes! Pink is brave! The artwork in Zodiac Starforce was so bubbly, colorful, and pink. I absolutely loved looking at it.

I, unfortunately, wasn’t as impressed with the storyline. I felt like there were a lot of jumps in plot that made the book hard to follow. Sometimes, I thought a scene hadn’t been completed, but then it cut to a new location or something 2 weeks later. I understand that this first installment in Zodiac Starforce is short, but I wish there had been more continuity. I hate feeling confused while I’m reading. I had to try very hard not to get parts mixed up while reading this and I still ended up feeling like I was missing something a few times.

I noticed that one of the girls has bigger thighs than the others, but she’s still pretty slim. I would like to see more diversity in body size and shape in a feminist comic like this. Unfortunately, many books and companies that are beginning to incorporate women with thicker bodies are only using women with flat stomachs. It think Zodiac Starforce should incorporate more curvy women and body types readers may not normally see in graphic novels. I see the attempt that the creators made, but they could have taken it further.

I loved the artwork for this book, but it wasn’t the feminist, girl gang graphic novel I was searching for. I feel like I didn’t see much in this comic that I hadn’t seen before. For that reason, I will continue my search for a graphic novel featuring empowered women of color fighting evil. I hope future graphic novels I pick up feature pink and purple like Zodiac Starforce did.

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Review- An Unkindness of Ghosts

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

51SaGVChQwL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Genre: Science fiction
Format: Paperback (advanced copy)
Publication date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Akashic Books
Page count: 340
Star rating: 4.5/5

Aster lives in the lower-decks of a spaceship that is flying through the cosmos in search of a safe planet. Although she lives in this ‘underworld’, a place where inhabitants are considered almost sub-human, she is assistant to the Surgeon. The Surgeon is of the highest rank, the man who solves all the ship’s medical problems, and one of Aster’s best friends. Although the two make an odd pair, they are the perfect match. Aster is teased for not being feminine enough and Theo, the Surgeon, is called names like ‘sissy’ and much worse. Not only is she busy acting as a medical assistant, Aster is also on a mission to figure out what happened to her mom, who died the day she was born. She knows the secrets are hidden somewhere on the spaceship, she just has to piece all the clues together.

An Unkindness of Ghosts opens with a scene portraying Aster amputating a young child, Flick’s, leg. Gender identity is one of the first things mentioned in the book, which was very interesting and exciting. Flick comes from a low-deck where children are referred to with gender neutral pronouns. Even though, on Aster’s deck, children are assigned feminine pronouns, she does not consider Flick’s identity weird or strange in any way; it’s just the way Flick is. This automatic acceptance of someone’s identity, despite it being different than the one Aster grew up around, is amazing. Someday, I hope it’s the norm to respect other’s identities without second thought, just as Aster did. I already knew I was going to love An Unkindness of Ghosts from the first few pages.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you probably know that strong female characters are my FAVORITE. Reading about brave women who stand their ground in the face of evil that is bigger than them gives me hope that, in the future, well-known books won’t mostly feature male protagonists. I’ve found that science fiction, especially, is male dominated. For this reason, I am so thrilled about An Unkindness of Ghosts, because Aster is the powerful sci-fi lady that I’ve been waiting for. She was such a pleasure to get to know. I found this book comparable, in a strange way, to The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet, which is one of my all-time favorite books. Both of these novels highlight space women who don’t take any BS from their opponents. I absolutely love that.

An Unkindness of Ghosts is a science fiction book that deserves to be on ‘must read’ lists for feminism in sci-fi. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice science fiction novel with a bad-ass female protagonist and interesting commentary about sexuality and gender identity. Thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of the book after I expressed my interest in it. I enjoyed it very much and I won’t forget Aster and her adventures.