Writer: Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Jenna Cha
Black stars above is an interesting comic book, going by this first issue at least. Here’s a story set in America during the late 1800s. Usually, that setting lends itself to cowboy westerns and there are elements of the old west in Black Stars Above but it goes in a refreshingly different direction from the likes of Red dead redemption or a fistful of dollars.
Black Stars Above is the story of a young, adventurous woman called Eulalie who’s dedicated her life to her family and their failing business. She tends to her ailing grandfather, skins animals and transports their goods for sale. Honestly, they probably wouldn’t manage without her. Naturally, when her father gives her the news that she’s to be married so that he can leave for a job she’s somewhat miffed. After meeting a stranger who offers to pay her to deliver a parcel to the other side of the woods. Eulalie decides to take the job and leaves her family to make her own way in life.
As far as writing goes it’s a well-made book. You get a good sense of character motivations and Eulalie is very relatable. I found her reaction to the news of her arranged marriage quite realistic and understandable. That subplot is one of the book’s high points in my opinion. There isn’t as much time spent on the rest of her family but they’re all easy enough to understand and serve their purposes. I’ve got to praise the way inner monologues are shown here. Every one of the captions looks like it came from the pages of a notebook. It’s a great technique for getting readers invested in Eulalie since it feels like you’re reading straight from a personal diary.
One thing to note about this particular book is that it’s a suspense horror more than anything else. This is mostly accomplished through Jenny Cha’s wonderful artwork. The creepy imagery is used sparingly throughout the book but her use of shadows keeps a constant sense of terror throughout. The use of a lot of dark colours and backgrounds alongside the white snow creates a nice contrast while highlighting both. It leaves you wondering whether the weather or the woods will be the bigger danger to Eulalie as she delivers the parcel. I’ve also got to praise the way facial expression is handled. There are moments where it looks unrealistic but it’s always easy to understand what the characters are feeling. I’m looking forward to seeing more comics work from Cha in the future based on this issue.
Overall it’s a good book. This is only the first issue so it’s mostly setup but it’s still enjoyable. I see a lot of potential in Black Stars Above and I’ll definitely be reading future issues. The suspenseful approach might put off some horror fans but it’s done incredibly well. Just don’t go into this expecting jump scares and you should enjoy it.
Black Stars Above #1