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Sci-Fi Crime Thrill In “Star Noir”

Star Noir is an interesting concept with genres well-perpetuated by its title. Written by Tony James with art by Pablo de Bonis; Star Noir is crime noir meets sci-fi in a surprising manner. It starts off very grounded with LAPD detective Alan Miller investigating the death of Starlight driver Perkins. As he delves further into the case, surprising turns and new extra-terrestrial alleys present themselves. The first few pages catch intrigue in the name of gangsters, bar brawls, traffic collisions and crime scene investigations. All of that goes off the rails with the introduction of one Ellis Tate – shortened as ET. The addition of aliens is not entirely out of left field with the incoming plot invasion hinted through panels as early as the first ten pages, and cryptic crumbs of information left in the dialogue such as: “Got eyes that could hypnotize a man”.

Given that UFOs and the existence of life beyond earth is a hot topic right now; Star Noir as a concept is very relevant. Personally, for myself, I’m more drawn to the human story of Alan solving the case of Perkins’ death. Star Noir strategically combines several tropes – extra-terrestrial and human duo, buddy-cop dynamic, brain and brawn, physicality meets smarts, anger and logic. It keeps the two genres of crime and sci-fi fresh and opens the comic to several different directions to go. But I don’t think crossing a little too far into the sci-fi genre is really necessary. Being that Ellis is an alien, it’s inevitable for space to take over at some point later in the plot. But a more compelling take is how James can take this very expansive character concept and work it into the smaller and more compact world of crime-solving and investigations.

The coloring by Vinicius Townsend is probably the best aspect of the entire graphic novel. It’s beautiful and accentuates the shadows and lighting, drumming up mystery, and using gradient to create atmosphere. De Bonis’ art doesn’t falter behind though. Even with less intricate details, he still manages to showcase gruesome and somewhat vivid images of inner body parts. His design for Alan Miller and Ellis Tate are quite amusing as well; the pair evoke some sort of a Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker pre-Spider bite kind of team-up for me. Marco Ventura’s lettering also helps fill and build the world; from storefronts, bench posters, neon signs into bars, to writings on the side of the bus. All of that helps make the world feel so lived-in.

Most of the storytelling details are definitely in the visuals. It’s in how recurring, nondescript background and filler characters become more than meets the eye, and how the panels use isolated body parts to really emphasize the possible dissection of the murdered characters. It’s also most like trying to fit the pieces of the case together—trying to solve it in a sense.

Star Noir overall has a lot of potential. I worry about the direction it’ll go. Ever since the barrage of Marvel films that have turned grounded and real stories into intergalactic warfare – check Iron Man and Spider-Man: Homecoming going into Avengers: Infinity War – it’s getting harder to trust anyone adding extra-terrestrial themes into their very human stories. But there’s still a lot of intrigue to work with here. I look forward to seeing where Alan and Ellis’ partnership can go from here on out.

Like the genres of crime noir and sci-fi? Interested in piecing together the puzzle pieces of a crime? Star Noir might just be what you need. With Book One currently being printed and Book Two’s Kickstarter going live soon on September 26, there’s no better time to catch up and checkout this fun buddy-cop adventure between an angry cop losing his wits and an alien partner! Talk to us on Twitter and Instagram for any new information regarding upcoming comics!

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Mae Trumata

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