Precinct1313 Recommends: I Am Not Starfire
I Am Not Starfire is another excellent entry in DC Comics’ Young Adult graphic novel line, an accessible and highly enjoyable series of non-canon original tales that beset the readers imaginations with terrific tales of classic superheroes, and villains, in their teen years.
Our previous foray with this superlative series of character chronicles was with the bodacious and boundless – Black Canary – though this particular melancholic narrative follows not the coruscating super-being known as Starfire, but her seemingly quotidian, recalcitrant daughter – Mandy.
Masterful manuscript manipulator – Mariko Tamaki and awesome artistic auteur – Yoshi Yoshitani combine their sublime skills for another tenacious tale of the rigours of youth, and dealing with the inevitable growing pains everyone eventually experiences on their emotional journey into adulthood. Whereas previous entries in DC’s superb series concentrated on superheroes and villains, this particular allegory follows the trepidatious tale of the distraught daughter of one of the most powerful beings on the planet.
Mandy is the atypical teenage girl – rebellious, moody, and capricious, though what sets apart Mandy from other sullen teens is her mum, you see her mum is the incandescent alien princess and superhero – Starfire! Throughout her young life, Mandy has grown up in the (sparkly) shadow of her mother, and has had to deal with the emotional baggage, intense public scrutiny and expectation that comes with being the daughter of a superhero.
Mandy’s life has been fashioned from her mum’s fame and overt popularity, none of which, so far, has rubbed off on Mandy, who see’s herself as the Anti-Starfire. Unlike her super-model matriarch, Mandy has shown no sign of superpowers, is short, chubby and decidedly un-sparkly! Therefore whenever anyone appears to show an interest in Mandy herself, she assumes it’s because of her famous mum, and constantly has deep rooted fears that her mum is disappointed by her distinct lack of powers and sparkliness. Alongside these feelings of inadequacy, she’s also hounded on a daily basis by her school’s Teen Titans fan club, and has a secret crush on the local football team’s most popular and pretty cheerleader.
Things go from bad to worse though, when her alien aunty, the powerful and malevolent – Blackfire appears and challenges Mandy to a life or death duel, but with no superpowers, self esteem or even a cheerleading girlfriend, what’s a put upon goth girl to do?
I Am Not Starfire is another fantastic graphic novel from the prominent pen of marvellous Mariko Tamaki, with some absolutely lush and vivacious visuals from Yoshi Yoshitani, making for another gripping teenage tale of angst and apprehension, but ultimately growth, friendship and inner respect. Highly, highly recommended.