So it’s time to review my first ever Comixology Original First Issue, and I picked a hell of a one to start with. Stone Star, written by Jim Zub and designed by Max Dunbar, is a science-fiction space opera with a bafflingly good premise and populated by uniquely designed characters with intriguing qualities. It’s story is based on the tired trope of ‘Gladiatorial Combat’ but it feels like Stone Star has a fresh take on it, and as you read through the first issue you can’t help but feel there’s something more to the story as well. A bigger picture playing in the background. I don’t review a lot of science-fiction on this site and that’s mainly because it’s hard to find something that fits in with my tastes, but I think I’ve found it here.
The story revolves around a massive space station called ‘The Stone Star’ which goes from planet to planet bringing entertainment across the galaxy. This kind of entertainment is brutal in nature, and features combatants fighting each other in arenas. Gladiator style. You don’t see any of this in the first issue, but there’s still plenty of action to follow and even an explosion thrown in for good measure. The story is set around Dail, an human-looking boy with a knack for getting into trouble, he’s a thief that gets rescued in the middle of a job by an old retired fighter called Volness (my favourite character!) and that’s what gets the story going. Volness has clearly seen something in the boy and asks him to reconsider his life of petty theft. There’s more to the first issue than just this though, there’s also some excellent setup for the rest of the story, focussing on the main elements you’ll need for the rest of the ride!
The art style is gritty but colourful and does an amazing job at handling how large the station is, as I was reading I would often get overwhelmed by the sheer size that is the Stone Star. Not to mention as well, that the design also does a fantastic job at bringing the unique aspects of the characters that populate this story to life, making them feel real. It has a very star wars-esque guise about it, which is always welcome in my science-fiction stories, and still manages to bring a fresh look to its characters. The best part about the first issue is the characters, for sure, they’re so well written that you get what they’re about in the first few panels of their first appearances, and they’re all different. My favourite character by far though is Volness, an old fighter with one arm that saves Dail in the beginning, and is apparently something of a legend around Stone Star. I love characters with deep-rooted pasts, he’s the type of character that you know some big tragedy has happened to and I can’t wait to find out what!
Another brilliant aspect part about Stone Star is how it handles its lore, and how it introduces its more complicated elements. Firstly, it never feels forced, it always feels like these elements have been naturally introduced and the lore is never forced down our throats. Secondly, you are usually aware this is exactly what the first issue is doing, but you don’t care, because you’re so lost in how awesome that element is! The reader knows exactly as much as they need to know to get the full story, and not much more than that, which I’ve always felt is the best way to handle lore and special elements, it really gives the audience their own agency on figuring out what this world is about and it makes the whole experience that much more engorging to read!
For my last word I’ll say that Stone Star really does bring something new to the table, something we’ve not seen before — from its characters, to its premise, to the refreshing take it has on an old trope, it really is a must for any comic-book enthusiast that has a love for science-fiction. I’d highly recommend it, and below you can find out where to buy it, along with a link to the creator’s social media!
You can find the first issue on Comixology, RIGHT HERE