It has often been credited that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 created the first superhero that young people could relate to when they dreamed up Spider-Man for Marvel Comics. Which I wholeheartedly agree with but as a life-long comic book fan I have to admit my tastes have changed greatly from the days I was picking up 60 to 70 comic books off the shelves a month. I’ve talked at length with my local and online friends about the situation as it now stands…I mostly get ‘independent’ comics and most of those have nothing to do with superheroes. So what changed? Why can I not just pick up the latest issue of Spider-Man and be enthralled with his exploits and personal problems like I’ve done for so many years? I think the simple answer is that their problems are no longer those I can readily relate to.
Thankfully these were not questions I had to ask myself while reading Sage Stossel’s fantastic new graphic novel “Starling”! Three pages into the graphic novel and I was already hooked by Stossel’s heroine, Amy Sturgess aka Starling, as we are introduced to her in a session with her therapist. Amy gets a call on her cell phone alerting her that a bank robbery is in progress and since her doctor is one of two people who knows of her superhero alter-ego she…well…actually she procrastinates a bit while she is supposed to be changing into her Starling costume. We find that Amy…like myself to be honest…procrastinates a lot. She also takes a moment to reach into her bag and take a Xanax before flying out the window to subdue the villainous bank robbers but yet again we are treated to something new when Amy discovers a couple of things about the armed men. The guns have no ammo and their pockets are filled with an odd assortment of items you wouldn’t expect…like an eviction notice and a family photo of happier times. So what does Amy do? She let’s them go and even shoves some money into the hands of the robber with the eviction notice and thinks to herself “I never claimed that as superheros go, I don’t kind of suck”.
It was at that point when I was reading the graphic novel that I set it down for a few minutes, thinking about what had just happened. When I picked it back up I realized that Stossel had masterfully already got me behind Amy and her actions, I would like to think I would have done the same thing to be 100% honest, I could relate with all of the Family and personal issues that she confronts in the rest of the book…expect the occasional emitting of electrical powers from my hands. Stossel has crafted a modern super-heroine that delivers on what the tagline on the front of the graphic novel states and the best of all she does so in a humorous and touching manner.
Sage Stossel by the way just so happens to be a contributing editor at The Atlantic and also has two children’s books entitled ‘On the Loose in Washington, D.C.’ and ‘On the Loose in Boston’. I certainly hope that we will be treated to more adventures of Starling in the coming years!
A big thanks to our friends at InkLit and Penguin Books for letting me review the book. It will be available on store shelves and the Kindle beginning on December 3rd, you can follow the link provided to pre-order!