Starhenge Book One: The Dragon and the Boar #3 Review

Writer, Illustrator, Letter: Liam Sharp

Font: Dave Gibbons

Design: Liam Sharp

Logo: Liam Sharp and Christina McCormack

Covers: Liam Sharp

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: 3.99

Release Date: September 7th, 2022

Just how much did the stories get wrong about Merlin? Amber tells us all about it while recounting how he worked in the past to restore the magic that will save humans in the future.

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 #3 Review.

The Dispatch

The first two issues of STARHENGE BOOK ONE: THE DRAGON AND THE BOAR deluged us with a staggering level of world building. The books were so dense that they all but required multiple readings to fully absorb. It was worth it, though, because STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3 advances the story, offers a peek into Merlin’s mind, and reveals a new detail about Amber–all of which is made more compelling because we are already so grounded in this world.

STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3 charts a different course than the first two issues. Amber continues to narrate. By comparison, though, the amount of narration is significantly reduced. This brings Merlin to the fore with Sharp giving us the deepest look into the character yet. We learn that Merlin is quite a bit different than history has recorded. This isn’t necessarily surprising since he is a posthuman from centuries in the future. But it does exemplify how much thought Sharp put into the story. Re-imaginings of old stories sometimes go wrong by changing the original’s circumstances or background without adjusting the characters to match. Fortunately Sharp has considerable leeway to tweak some details thanks to how far in the past the story takes place.

Through this focus on Merlin STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3 also revisits the plot established in the first issue (restoring magic to the world for the war in the future) in a big way. Thanks to the detailed context the previous issue gave us about where and when Merlin is, STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3 can advance the plot with minimal backstory. Sharp does provide minor exposition, but attentive readers will not have to sit through an extensive recap. In that way STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3’s narrative avoids the only criticism I applied to the previous issue: that the extensive exposition significantly slowed the pace of the story in the middle.

The thing that caught my attention more than anything else in STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3, though, was a small detail about Amber that explains why she knows so much about Merlin’s activities in the past. Given the special knowledge Amber has exhibited to this point the revelation isn’t shocking. But it presents an interesting wrinkle to her previous contention that everything she’s describing (past, present, and future) “is all going on all at once.”

The Art

Almost all of STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3 takes place in the past. The past’s art and color in the second issue was somewhat reserved (at least in comparison to the future). In contrast this issue is visually chaotic and more visceral–somehow appropriate since Merlin’s story veers into the fantastic here. Most striking is the color palette. The cold, dark blue hues used to such great effect for the future make their first appearance in the past. They’re used primarily in scenes depicting Merlin or the center of magical power he is having built. I don’t know if Sharp intended this or not, but the color choice felt like a conscious reminder of how far removed Merlin was (and in a sense still is) from this time and place.

While the past is getting somewhat wilder, though, the present retains its grayscale appearance. This choice has given Amber and Daryl’s scenes a sense of detachment. But when something rich in color appears on the final page (a visual explosion resulting from the contrast), I realized how that color choice had conveyed a sense of safety compared to the past and future.

Final Thoughts

STARHENGE BOOK ONE #3 is the latest outstanding issue in a series that is among the most creative I have read in recent years. Sharp was not afraid to appeal to his readers’ intelligence in the first two issues. They relied on readers’ curiosity, willingness to fully engage with a new and detailed world, and patience for the story to lay its foundation. This issue begins to pay it off. It commands the same level of attention while being less dense and faster paced. The book is an elegant turn from exposition to plot advancement.


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