Starhenge Book One: The Dragon and the Boar #2 Review

Writer, Illustrator, Letter: Liam Sharp

 Art Assist: Matylda McCormack-Sharp

 Font: Dave Gibbons

 Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles

 Design: Liam Sharp

 Logo: Liam Sharp and Christina McCormack

 Covers: Liam Sharp

 Publisher: Image Comics

 Price: 3.99

 Release Date: August 10th, 2022

Step back to a time just before Arthur when the future of the British Isles is being decided in the war with Anglo Saxons. Merlin, sent to the past to save the future, works to influence events and restore the magic that is humanity’s only hope.

If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Starhenge Book One: The Dragon and the Boar #2 Review.

The Dispatch

STARHENGE BOOK ONE: THE DRAGON AND THE BOAR promises to be one of the most creative takes on Arthurian myth in quite some time. STARHENGE BOOK ONE #1 introduced a fully realized world blending science fiction and magic, and an intricate story taking place in the past, present, and future. With the world established and the story laid out in broad strokes, STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 is able to open up with greater detail and character development.

The first big difference in STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 is Amber who is still the storyteller, but this time around feels less like a narrative device and more like a fleshed-out character. In fact, this issue puts off immediately returning to the first issue’s cliffhanger, instead spending the first several pages focusing on Amber. We get caught up in her relationship with Daryl and learn a great deal more about her backstory.

Amber narrates STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 with the same conversational, storytelling-around-a-campfire tone that she used in the first issue. Knowing her better helps us build a greater connection to the story. This development pays dividends when the issue takes a deep dive into Arthurian lore and British history.

STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 is no less dense than the first issue. But rather than establishing a world of the future, Liam Sharp instead takes us on a brief tour through the Britains’ war with the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century as that history intersects with Arthurian myth. His narrative even quotes from the historian Geoffrey of Monmouth.

The drawback to the extra time spent with Amber and the extensive British and Arthurian exposition in STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 is that the issue barely follows up on Merlin (previously Wylt) since his arrival in the past at the end of the previous issue. Most of what Sharp does tell us about Merlin is communicated through the detailed British/Arthurian exposition.

The Art

STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 is another visual feast, and this time around it’s the use of color that grabbed my attention. There is a greater range of color giving life to the story. Amber and Daryl’s story remains largely black and white with some color accents where she recounts her past. As with the first issue, this sets her apart from the epic she’s telling. It also grounds her, in reality, more than the other sequences, almost as a touchstone within the huge narrative.

Sharp plays with softer hues for the scenes that take place in the past, especially greens and reds. Most striking is the page with the bright blue sky. It’s a life-affirming contrast to the first issue’s liberal use of dark blue for the war-torn future.

The first issue’s dark colors helped ratchet the tension up which created a larger sense of dread. STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 feels more open, inviting the reader to almost relax. The events that take place are no less serious but they don’t feel quite as overwhelming. The long recounting of history and the softer colors encourages complacency. That is undone, somewhat shockingly, in the final pages when the issue returns to the dark colors and body horror elements present in so much of the first issue.

Final Thoughts

Like the first issue, STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 is a comic that will benefit from multiple readings. There is also a benefit to Googling some of the historic references to gain added context. While I don’t necessarily consider these negatives, they are qualities that can put off some readers. The one unfortunate side effect of this is that STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 slows considerably in the middle as it gets deep into history and lore. It lacks the first issue’s urgency.

Visually this might once again be the most artistically stunning book among the week’s releases. The interiors, using both traditional and digital painting techniques, are integral in creating the series’ grandeur. Given the ambitious narrative, it’s already impossible in my mind to separate the visual style from the story.

STARHENGE BOOK ONE #2 is a comic that really wants you to roll up your sleeves and fully engage with it. In that way, it feels like it’s building a grand epic rather than just telling a long story. And the world always benefits from new grand epics.


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