The best girl squad in comics returns this week in a brand new miniseries. Read on for our review of “Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1 but be warned, there are some minor spoilers within this review.
Written by Kevin Panetta
Illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau
Colored by Sarah Stern
Lettered by Christy Sawyer
An elite group of teenage girls with magical powers have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests–theyre also battling monsters!
After defeating a former ZS member and her mean-girl minions, the girls thought they’d get a little break! But a new big bad’s come out to play, and demons are starting to overrun the downtown!
Last year, “Zodiac Starforce” hit shelves and since the moment it ended, fans (including myself) have begged for more. The way the series is set up, this series could go for years and provide lots of new adventures for this modern day magical girl group. Thankfully, this week marks the beginning of the latest miniseries. “Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1 is incredibly fun and the exact kind of series the medium needs more of.
“Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1 takes place not too long after the events of the first miniseries. The team is closer than they ever have been before after defeating Diana. Everyone’s life has moved on with Kim dealing with some family drama, Emma dealing with a break up and Lily learning to harness her powers more effectively. Things aren’t perfect but there haven’t been any monster drama until one shows up in town. Elsewhere, a new threat is taking shape in the form of some schoolmates who have taken up what Diana left behind.
“Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1 is in one word a blast. From start to finish, this is a good time while still containing the drama necessary to be a good story. Panetta’s script is full of really funny dialogue that doesn’t feel forced. “Zodiac Starforce” never reads like anyone is trying too hard to make these characters sound young and I think a lot of that comes down to this entire team being in sync. This isn’t simply someone handing off a script to someone else. Instead, this feels like a real collaboration that strives to be authentic and deliver something to an audience that isn’t always catered to. Each of these characters has a distinct personality and their interactions flow very naturally with great comedic timing.
“Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1 is also really special because it simultaneously picks up a running series while still being really easy to jump into. There’s enough context here to give someone just jumping into the series a clear picture of where things are at. At the same time, it still feels like a continuation instead of being simply a set up to what comes next. This issue is packed with a lot of character development and leaves you with a lot of the good kind of questions. The biggest concern going forward is the lack of the titular Fire Prince. With a short miniseries, it’s important to cover as much ground as possible and my biggest worry right now is that he won’t get enough time to be built into the great antagonist that he should be. While the core cast has been developed extremely well, I did feel like we should have seen a bit more him.
Paulina Ganucheau levels up big time in “Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1. The first volume of this series was so much fun to look at and with this new series, she’s just gotten better. “Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1 features some amazing character work. Ganucheau’s designs from body types to individual styling is so well thought out. She isn’t just copy and pasting the things she did in the first volume, but instead putting a new twist on things. With a witty script, Ganucheau is able to make all that comedy work to its fullest potential through how she draws each character reacting. There is an amazing short sequence with Savi feeding her turtle Hellboy that audibly made me laugh out loud because of how much I related to it with my own pet. The early panels with Kim and her boyfriend practicing a body slam is equally as fun for different reasons.Continued below
“Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince” #1 also boasts some excellent action packed sequences. While we don’t get to see much of the titular Fire Prince, there is plenty of action here to tie us over until then. Ganucheau gives us an awesome but short training montage and this issue seems to focus on Kim a little more than everyone else. She’s right at the forefront of the personal drama and the early fighting. I love Kim. I think visually she’s the most interesting and because well, she’s a Taurus and a huge wrestling fan (shoutout to the Sasha Banks poster). Ganucheau adds a lot of flair to her skateboarding with a piece of her shield and her team up with Emma is great fun. I particularly like how there’s been an evolution in how everyone fights because it helps the feeling of time passing.
One of the things in the art that really stands out is how different it looks from the first volume. A lot of this I think comes down to Sarah Stern’s coloring. In the first miniseries, Ganucheau did both the lines and the coloring. Her work in that miniseries was fantastic and the coloring felt like candy. Everything was bright, slick and felt almost dreamlike. It was honestly very beautiful and fit the story extremely well. Sarah Stern’s colors are amazing but do some very different things in this issue compared to the first. Stern brings a touch of realism to the issue on the whole and definitely brings the right amount of darkness in the sequences featuring our villains. With that said though, she understands how actually magical “Zodiac Starforce” is and brings such a wide variety of bright neon colors to convey that. She brings an added layer to all the styling and makes the powers pop.
Final Verdict: 8.2 – “Zodiac Starforce: Cries of The Fire Prince” #1 is good and pure and everything comics needs right now.