By Sage Stossel
Available now form InkLit (Penguin Random House)
I've always enjoyed graphic novels, but I've found that there are very few in the United States aimed at women past their teens - particularly not superhero comics. Thus, STARLING was a bit of fresh air. Sage Stossel is a cartoonist whose work has appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic. I wasn't into the art at first, since it looks like magazine-cartoon style. But it grew on me.
Amy Sturgess is Starling, a popular superheroine. (Although she might be more popular with one of the more revealing costumes she refused, in one of the graphic novel's funniest sequences.) She's also an employee at an ad agency, where she's on the rise despite her frequent absences due to "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." She has to pay the bills, but she's also determined to help as many people as possible even when it affects her sleep and personal life. (Also funny: Starling going out to fight crime in her comfy pizza-eating clothes because she can't be bothered to change.) Unfortunately, a slimy coworker is attempting to steal Amy's accounts, using her work.
There's also a romance to go with the drama of balancing work and unpaid work. Amy is hung up on a former boyfriend, which becomes complicated when she meets and likes his wife. She's also meet a new guy, one who might be able to understand her life as Starling. And to make things even more complicated, Amy's hapless younger brother is in trouble. It's pretty standard superhero stuff, but it's nice to see it happening to a normal, not rich, not super sexualized woman.
STARLING is a charming graphic novel. It's also the first book I've read from Penguin Random House's InkLit graphic novel imprint. I might have to check out more of their books if they're all of this quality. STARLING is a terrific choice for readers searching for a low-key superhero comic and for DC fans (and Marvel fans) fed up with how their favorite superheroines have been treated.