Stone Star, Vol. 1: Fight or Flight
Sometimes, a creative team comes together on a title and gets everything right. From story to art, the work just sparkles and it leaves you wanting more. This was definitely the case for Jim Zub and Max Dunbar‘s Stone Star, Vol.1 Fight or Flight. It is a story that is part Gladiator and part Running Man with emphasis on the best parts. As originally seen on ComiXology, Stone Star Vol. 1: Fight or Flight also mixes in a memorable set of characters with enough family drama and action to make it impossible not to care by the time the first Volume ends.
But now, Dark Horse Books is bringing Stone Star, Vol. 1 to print. All 5 issues of its initial run are compiled and shown in all its space born gladiatorial splendor. Writer Jim Zub along with artist Max Dunbar, Colorist Espen Grundetjern and Letterer Marshall Dillon create a world where almost every inhabitant has found some personal tragedy. Throw in some civil unrest and you can see why. The difference is how you respond to it. Do you curl up in the fetal position and let the Bastards win, or do you do something about it.
For young Dail, he and his friend Kitzo had decided to do something. Although stealing isn’t necessarily preferred, it’s still a way to survive. Which was the name of the game on any planet, and Quell wasn’t any different. Plus with the arrival of the vessel Stone Star and its Gladiatorial Entertainment, the possibility of pilfering something of value increased. The trick was to not get caught. Or as they liked to say, “Make your move, Take the Shot, Lot’s to Prove, Don’t get Caught!” Unfortunately for Dail and Kitzo, that trick proved to be difficult as they were caught in the middle of their heist. (Which disproves the age old saying “Tricks are for Kids”…or something like that.) Even more problematic was Dail losing control of the junk cart they attempted to get away on.
Fortunately, fortune smiled on Dail in the form of Volness Valdari. Volness was a highly respected Gladiator. At least until he lost his arm in combat. Since that time, he has become a trainer for those who fight in the Arena. However, his reputation in the Arena is respected and sometimes feared by those who watched him battle. Because of that, he is generally given a wide berth.
It was perhaps his Gladiatorial training that saved him. The runaway junk cart that Dail and Kitzo had tried to escape in was heading right toward Volness. But with exquisite timing, Volness leapt over the cart, grabbing Dail as he flied by. In the aftermath, he vouched for the boy saying that the cart incident was an accident. He then escorted Dail away, leading him to the Pits where Volness earns his keep. At first, Dail was reluctant to go, but curiosity got the best of him and he followed Volness.
This introduction lead Dail into an adventure where he would meet new allies, new adversaries, and find out if he had “the juice” as Volness called it. By the time Volume 1 was finished, Dail would find himself exactly where his father before him had been. In the Gladiatorial Pits, and fighting for his life amongst his new allies. Kikanni, the last survivor of the Quell Royal family, who found out her family wasn’t as virtuous as she had believed before she lost them.
Also at his side, the mechanical construct named Durn. Dail had linked with Durn when he had attempted to save Kitzo. Now, he is his protector and his weapon. Under the watchful eyes of Volness, they would become the Gladitorial Trio known as the Castaways.
There are many things that make a book stand out to me. The art is number one and Max Dunbar has that covered in spades. Stylish and cool with every character looking formidable in their own way. Whether it be the Stone Star Guards, Lord Grandiose (who has a sort of Thanos vibe), Volness, or Dail, Kikanni and Durn. When combined with great execution of colorist Espen Grundetjern, it is a winning combination.
The next thing is if the way it is written pulls me in. Especially where I can hear the characters in my mind. Again, writer Jim Zub pulls this off with every facet of the story. Volness in his low key, almost western style drawl and cool screams Sam Elliott or Clint Eastwood to me. As I read, it is their voice I hear when Volness speaks. Durn gives me the Vin Diesel Iron Giant feels. Not original casting mind you, but its MY MIND…so I get what I want. The point is, Stone Star, Vol. 1: Fight or Flight rocked big time. I look forward to Volume 2 to see where we go from here.
Stone Star, vol. 1: Fight or Flight comes to Dark Horse Books on July 6th through the Dark Horse and comiXology print program. It can be pre-purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local comic shop.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.