I always get a little pang of excitement when I see that my latest review assignment from SelfMadeHero features an artist or writer who’s previously worked with the publishers. Stardust Nation gave me that little pang when I first discovered it was on the way – it’s artwork is provided by Andrzej Klimowski of Behind the Curtain, who’s style gave the comic a grim yet vibrant burst of life. Plus, this SelfMadeHero comic is an original story (by Deborah Levy), an ORIGINAL story, I say! Not that I don’t love the multitude of biographies these guys produce, but I do love an original comic from these guys.
What a shame then that Stardust Nation turns out to be such a chore to read. At around 109 pages in length, it’s definitely a breeze of a read, but it’s actual contents leave a lot to be desired. The premise alone is somewhat intriguing – high-flying advertising guru Tom Banbury accidentally melds minds with colleague Nikos, quite literally. Tom’s methods of getting inside of his customer’s minds to seal the deal is unwittingly elevated to another level when Nikos crashes into the consciousness of Tom.
I could elaborate further on the comic’s premise and plot, but quite honestly, it’s far too muddled to reward any emotional investment. That’s Stardust Nation‘s greatest flaw – it’s impossible to identify with these characters or to make yourself at home with the scope of this comic’s ambitions. The back cover of Stardust Nation summarises the comic as being a tale of “memory, identity, and how we are, all of us, connected.”. I don’t want to believe that a publisher with the standards like SelfMadeHero has would bring out a comic lacking in depth, and there probably is some instances of substance to this comic, but I came away from it feeling unmoved.
The characters aren’t particularly engrossing, the artwork is muddy and concrete-like. There’s very little vibrancy to Stardust Nation which, for a comic as brief in its length as this, doesn’t do it any favours. After the stern yet inviting colours and layout of Behind the Curtain, Klimowski’s latest efforts here is simply disappointing to witness.
Stardust Nation feels less like a fully realised comic and more like an afterthought. It’s abstract concept sounds as if it should be an alluring read, one who’s concept should radiate with the reader. Thanks to its short length, dull artwork, an unattractive characters, Stardust Nation fails to deliver the goods. This is a particular blow for me as a SelfMadeHero lover. I’ve read and reviewed comics of theirs that, although not succeeding as an overall package, still have much to enjoy about them. Stardust Nation isn’t one of those comics. A lifeless take on an otherwise interesting concept, Stardust Nation can’t help but feel like pretension for the sake of pretension.
Have you read Stardust Nation? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!