Variations on a classic theme abound in Mark Millar's latest comic, Starlight. Collaborating with Goran Parlov and released by Image Comics, Millar spins the tale of Duke McQueen, an Air Force pilot who was supposedly transported to a distant planet forty years ago to save the universe, then returned home. He was laughed out of the service, and spent the next four decades in quiet disgrace.
At the start of the comic, McQueen is now in his sixties. He still has vibrant memories of his time on a distant world. They don't haunt him, per se. But they're there. Constant, clear visions of adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
Even as he buries his late wife.
One thing the story wastes no time on is doubt. McQueen's adventures happened. They're not simply hallucinations, or delusions of grandeur. The first issue ends, simply enough, with a Flash Gordon-esque space ship landing outside Duke's house; having arrived to take him off for another adventure.
And it works. McQueen's introduction is straightforward enough. He's a good guy, but not afraid to pull a laser pistol during a sword fight (if the opponent is asking for it). He's strong, sharp, and loyal to his wife. In flashbacks, he's offered a position of power and respect, if he'll stay post-adventure by his liberated space queen. He declines, in favor of his "girl back home".
What surprised me was the overall lack of internal conflict, here. It's a very simple set-up for what could be a fantastic adventure. McQueen is retired, widowed, and his kids never visit. He has no ties holding him to a world that spent decades sniggering behind his back. There's no question of whether or not McQueen will take another trip off-world. Of course he will. Millar is trimming down that leg of the Hero's Journey.
Parlov's artwork is crisp, well-defined, and suits the adventure in store. With broad strokes, Millar's done a fine job of setting up the world McQueen's leaving behind, and the planet he's off to save (again). I can't wait for chapter two!