Tales of the Titans #1
Writers: Shannon Hale & Dean Hale
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
It should not have taken about three decades for DC Comics to give Koriand’r / Starfire her dues and make a comic about her that truly explores what kind of person she is and her potential, but I’m glad it finally exists and is in our hands.
And it’s phenomenal.
“Starfire: Alien Princess” is the story that kicks off the Tales of the Titans miniseries, an anthology that focuses on a singular member of the Titans, and honestly, who better to start with than her? In many regards, she’s the beating heart of the team, but since New Teen Titans ended, we’ve never truly gotten a deep dive that truly honors the character…until now.
The story is told entirely from the perspective of Starfire, with her commenting on every moment every step of the way through, and it’s nice to get a full-on look inside her head, why she reacts to things in certain ways, why she acts the way she does. As much as Kory might show that she’s sweet and loving as an exterior, it’s clear that deeper within a lot does bother her, and showing us that directly creates a connection with the reader that helps us automatically sympathize with her.
It follows a day in the life when Kory is called away to help two Tamaraneans back to their colony, and it allows us to see Kory as her own person, separate from the Titans, independent from Dick Grayson. As she helps them, we get an insight into Tamaranean life, why they worship their gods, and how Kory feels about all this. What’s good about this book is that it never leans into exposition dump, it’s always through the lens of the character, and it maintains it from beginning to end.
Part of this is how much it leans into the art to tell the tale, and Javier Rodriguez is absolutely up to the task, giving us some gorgeous storytelling through the art and colors. If you’ve been reading DC’s current Brave and the Bold anthology series, he’s doing the art for the Superman story with Cantwell on art, and it’s just as gorgeous there. Rodriguez’s comic art is just on a level above the rest, the way the guy utilizes negative space to frame panels instead of always sticking to rectangles, the way the rectangle grid isn’t within a specific space, and sometimes just starts at the edges, so cool. That’s not even going into how it looks. It looks elegant, with bright colors covering each page, perfectly framed expressions, and movement that leans into the fact that it’s a fiction, letting her hair almost be a character of its own in many regards.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering… wow. So effortlessly gorgeous, with font styles that complement the art at every turn. The choice of bubbles – the choice of how words are given emphasis – all of this adds so much to the voice of the character, even without literally hearing them. The way sound effects just look like a part of the art and blend in perfectly without contrasting in a bad way – no notes. Some of my favorite lettering in a comic all year, it’s just so, so cool.
I’m glad Shannon Hale and Dean Hale focused on Kory’s relationships with other characters and people in this book, instead of relegating it to Dick Grayson, leaving him as merely a cameo and nothing more. It’s wild that asking for a good book with her where Dick isn’t involved is a big ask, but I’m glad it exists. Koriand’r is a character with the potential to shine on her own without being held back, and this book is proof of that.
Above everything, the focus on her friendship with Donna was very sweet. The way she opens up and talks while the beautiful art takes us on a trip through the skies – wow. It’s a short moment, but one of those that make you sit back and think “No other team could have pulled off a moment like this.”
I also loved the focus on her kindness, her love, how that is her strength but also how that’s contrasted with her own insecurities, how she feels about how other people perceive her emotions, and her own struggle with the title of princess, it’s all so well done and it flows so well because of that focus on Kory because the story is told exclusively through her lens.
This book is beautiful, both in terms of the writing and the art. Again, it’s high time Starfire got her dues, and I would love for this creative team to eventually work on a solo series with her as the lead because they would kill it.