Starr the Slayer, a character rarely used in the Marvel universe, has always been a poor man’s Conan and never really garnered much respect, if he was even remembered. This version of Starr, unlike the original version or the Warren Ellis one used in newuniversal, is like an alien Conan. In this book, released by the MAX imprint, Daneil Way and Richard Corben take the C-list character and do not really do all that much to elevate him beyond that point. What they did end up doing is merely tell another story about him, albeit, one with a lot of violence, gore, cursing and some nudity.
The tale in question finds our hero and his family making their way to the big city to get some items for the tribe which will help them create some medicines. But Starr and his people are seen as less than dirt and his family is soon killed and Starr, sold into slavery. Eventually Starr rebels, raises an army and gains vengeance against the man who was resonsible for it all.
There are some good things and some bad things about this book. The good begins with Corben’s art which is just as good and just as expressive as it was thirty years ago. Alien worlds, creatures and barbarian peoples are what he seems to excel in and this book played perfectly into those strengths. Utilizing themes of class and revenge which always provide great fodder and never go out of style, Corben and Way craft a good old-fashioned pulpy, science-fiction tale which is reminiscent of Marvel’s 1970s output.
With the good comes the bad and while thematically the story works, it has been done many times over and often better. Way has introduced some elements to change it up a bit such as having the ‘author’ of the story within the story be an active part, but it was simply not enough to distinguish it from any of those other tales. There is also the matter of the narration, which is told predominantly in rhyme. Usually it is fine, but it wears thin and seems out of place in this setting and for this particular tale.
One bright spot was the comedic relief sprinkled throughout the book, usually involving Starr as he chases woman and is in turn chased by them. He is a true barbarian – inept and unable to understand the ways of those outside of his tribe. Some of the other characters have funny bits, but none so much as Starr and his constant bungling.
This was an odd choice of character to publish as he was, and is, an extremely minor player in the Marvel sandbox with little to no impact in the larger scheme of things. It was nice to see something different though, even if only for a limited series. While the title gets merit for trying to do something new, perhaps if it had gone in a more traditional route, it would have worked a bit better.
3 out of 5