It’s always exciting to combine the genres and see how they interact – see how the pirate story works in a magical sea or in the western where you fight alien invaders. This allows you to test the reach of these stories, seeing how the visuals play with each other and elevate each other. Likewise, taking a legendary story and then putting it in a different medium allows you to test a story’s impact and explore what makes it powerful. While “Starhenge: The Dragon and the Boar” #1 features some truly stunning visuals and occasional moments of clever dialogue, one can’t help but wonder if a monthly comic was the right choice for this story. If nothing else, you have to wonder if there wasn’t more Liam Sharp could have done to create a better entry point for this space fantasy epic.
Liam Sharp cover
Written by Liam Sharp
Illustrated by Liam Sharp
Coloring by Liam Sharp
Letters from Liam Sharp
Revered creator LIAM SHARP goes wild in his visually stunning six-issue masterpiece, STARHENGE, BOOK ONE! A future Merlin travels to 5th-century Britain to stop monstrous time-traveling killer robots from stealing the universe of magic, and Amber Weaver’s animated present-day tale reveals how she’s drawn into a war through time !
Terminator meets The Green Knight in 30 gripping pages of history, setting the scene for this original epic inspired by the Arthurian sagas!
Something about the “Arthurian legend in space” made it seem like it would work without a hitch or struggle under its weight. In a way, something about “legends of old” already has a sci-fi feel to it. They feature humans, sure, but they come from radically different worlds, upholding values or making judgments about others that might seem strange to our sensibilities. The problem, however, with “Starhenge: The Dragon and the Boar” #1 is that it tries to do too much for an intro number. Its scope is vast, jumping between the past, the present, and a distant future. In addition, most of the script is a narration of a character from our present, which assures us of his connection to the story. The problem? She doesn’t do much to prove it.
The narration in the first issue of “Starhenge: The Dragon and the Boar” #1 isn’t necessarily bad, but it certainly seems aimless. Liam Sharp’s screenplay certainly has ironic moments in the storytelling, from pop culture references that create touchstones for the audience to engaging in world-building on a cosmic level, explaining the relative nature of time and how Einstein ignored magic. It does a lot of heavy lifting, and it almost feels like Sharp includes occasional levity moments to remind you not to take this too seriously, but ultimately the comic book storyline feels all over the place. It’s hard to follow, overwhelming at times, and doesn’t necessarily give you the chance to care. The narration does its best to make sure everything will eventually make sense, but by the end of the first issue, it’s hard to believe. It was honestly a little shocking when you got to the end of the first issue; does it just end somehow? It didn’t necessarily feel like it was setting up for an ending crescendo. It doesn’t even feel like it’s necessarily the end of the first chapter of an epic saga. It’s not the first comic with a weird pacing, but it looks like it’s not even necessarily interested in being a monthly comic.
At the end of the first issue, it’s unclear where even “Starhenge: The Dragon and the Boar” #1 goes. It seems like there’s something at the time hoping that the first issue introduces; it’s possible that the heroes of old are the rambling travelers of the future, but that doesn’t necessarily explain how or why. There are also times when the script seems almost too clever for its good. Ideas that “Merlin” is the title of a warrior sent through time and not the name of an ancient wizard, things like epic struggles take place not only in physical spaces, but also in spiritual spaces and dream. Sharp may have bigger plans he’s putting in place in the first issue of his space saga, but it just doesn’t seem like he’s interested in pacing this in a way that keeps readers coming back to the title. It’s hard to even think of how this could be fixed short of pitching the comic as a graphic novel, because the problem with “Starhenge” is that it’s meant to be a visual medium, and it’s It was then that he had the most success.
Although the screenplay leaves something to be desired, pacing and dialogue, it is a visual masterpiece. Sharp has a masterful way of making each period unique while creating a guideline of basic visual vocabulary. For example, each time period has a distinct coloration, with the present being charcoal gray and chiaroscuro, the future embracing the deep blacks and blues of the vastness of space, while the past is a bit more colorful, these are deep greens and reds. Each period has an occasional pop of color that goes against the established visual language and makes these panels stand out. Still, it helps you stay grounded in the variety of settings Sharp has in place. One of the other important differences is Sharpe’s use of collage to create unique images across the issue. Some of the visuals are horrifying, some things that wouldn’t look out of place in a Robert Eggers movie, some that are mysterious and magical, and some that are deeply human. The art is definitely the highlight of the issue, from the way the pages are laid out to the way it manipulates the layout of the panels to create larger images. It’s an amazing comic, but that’s only part of the equation.
Visually, “Starhenge: The Dragon and the Boar” #1 is a standout comic, but overall the issue isn’t a comic worth returning. Again, it’s possible that if it were paced differently or presented as an original graphic novel it would work better, but as the first issue of a monthly story it leaves a lot to be desired.
Final Verdict: 5.5 While “Starhenge: The Dragon and the Boar” #1 is a visual masterpiece, the comic book execution leaves something to be desired.