Star vs. The Forces of Evil: Deep Trouble (#1 – 4) – Zach Marcus

3 out of 5

I normally wait for the end of a storyline to read, and I guess I’m a little confused because the trade solicits for the Star Vs. comic series – notably written and drawn by folks who actually work on the show – are for issues 1-4, and yet the arc (‘Deep Trouble’) doesn’t conclude in any way as of issue 4.  As it sounds like this might be an eight issue series overall, that’s presumably done to split things into two books (it’s also become the de facto behavior for youth series to do four issue collections as opposed to mom’s and dad’s six to eight issue trades  – who knows what marketing or financial reasoning drives that), but it feels a little wonky.  Either that means this plot will extend for eight issues – which feels ambitious – or the second trade will feature the last chapter or two of the arc and then the remaining issues, which is an odd cadence.

Or the solicits are wrong and I’m all to-do about nothing, which is especially likely.

Anyhow, having people who work on the animated series on the book is absolutely the right approach: the comic instantly captures the characters’ voices and body language and the general timing of the show’s oddball humor.  The initial setup also feels exactly like it could be an episode: Princess Ponyhead is falsely (or so she claims…) accused of stealing a prized tiara from some underwater folk, so of course Star – with Marco in tow – comes to her rescue, pledging to find the proof to prove her innocence.

The back-and-forth banter is quite often hilarious and Devin Taylor’s art is stuffed with some great background gags.  Even the characterizations are often enough to elicit a giggle.  But while it’s super cool that the comic is both an original story and also one that just picks up from the show – no need for a retread introductory sequence – there’s also the mistake a lot of these adaptations make of trying to include too much referential stuff, maybe as a bid for fan appreciation, maybe because it seems necessary to show that a comic can be bigger and better, or maybe because it’s just fun to include all your favorite bits from the show.  Alas, this generally equates to an over-stuffed plot, and that’s the case here.  Each issue is essentially a step toward cracking the P-Head case, which translates to each issue having an adventure based on some pre-existing show lore.  And I know, I know I’m reading into this too much for a kid’s comic that’s just trying to be attention grabbing, but even factoring in my reading tastes as a kid, I would’ve preferred if we had hung around any particular subplot pursuance – Glossaryk’s bonko sitcom world; jumping through the past for clues – instead of the ADD tour the issue-by-issue approach encourages.  Because I too quickly realize that the antics I’m witnessing don’t matter at all, since they’ll be abandoned for the next adventure.  This is the benefit to the show’s runtime limitation, and the challenge that comes from an adaptation.

Less rigorously analyzed, the comics, as mentioned, are a lot of fun, especially since they port the attitude of the show over so well.  So for most young readers who dig the show, I’m sure it’ll be a gas, and might even be goofy enough to encourage some to watch the show of the comic is their first exposure.  But from my holy POV, if I’m experiencing something in a different medium, I like for it to express itself in a way that justifies that separation, and in its current “remember this?” format, Star Vs. first few issues don’t quite meet that requirement.