Shatterstar #1

Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Carlos Villa (penciler), Juan Vlasco (inker), Gerardo Sandoval (flashbacks)
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Yasmine Putri
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Review by Nico Sprezzatura

You wouldn’t know it from his glorified cameo in Deadpool 2, but Shatterstar probably has one of the most confusing backstories of the entire Marvel Universe — and that’s saying something. This week’s Shatterstar #1 (wisely) ignores it for the most part, only giving you flashes of his past as a gladiator, as they soon become relevant to the plot. Speaking of which, what is the plot?

Under his civilian alias Ben Gaveedra — a reference to his birth name, Gaveedra-Seven – Shatterstar has recently become the landlord of an apartment building for extra-dimensional exiles (like himself) to find shelter. While he seems to be doing perfectly fine as an individual, his on-off relationship with ex-boyfriend Rictor still plagues him. But Rictor is hardly the worst of his exes to deal with, as a familiar face from his past returns to wreck some havoc, launching Shatterstar back into the role of fierce, avenging gladiator.

Of all people to be given their own series in 2018, Shatterstar is likely towards the bottom of that list, but his relative obscurity is precisely what makes him an excellent candidate for a limited series like this one. And writer Tim Seeley definitely plants some interesting seeds for what’s to come in this first issue. Like I mentioned, he only incorporates the most salient points of Shatterstar’s convoluted origin here, choosing to focus on the story on hand instead. While some Marvel/DC series can get bogged down in continuity, it doesn’t seem that’ll be the case here.

Shatterstar #1 also features some handsome art, and I’m not just calling it such because penciller Carlos Villa draws Shatterstar as a total beefcake hunk. (Between this and Seeley’s prior Dick Grayson saga at DC, he clearly has a knack for picking his protagonist.) Villa and inker Juan Vlasco take the present-day scenes, while Gerardo Sandoval handles the flashbacks to his days as a gladiator. I think Sandoval’s super-stylized aesthetic works well for the flashbacks, contrasting with Villa’s gentler visuals. The layouts themselves are also very interesting to look at; Sandoval’s battle arena scenes in particular are frenetic and busy in the ways you’d expect. And not to beat a dead horse about Shatterstar’s looks, but he looks good in this issue, namely when he’s wearing that sleeveless shirt.

The Verdict: Buy it.

For fans of Shatterstar, the greater X-Men line at large, or both, Shatterstar #1 shines an entertaining spotlight on one of Marvel’s weirdest characters.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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