‘Ellie Moonbeard and the Seekers of Shine’ Comic Review
written by Joseph Bradford; art by Nicolas David Selma; colors by Brittany Peer
Readers won’t be able to help but be reminded of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the lead character Rey, when looking at the first few pages of writer Joseph Bradford’s Ellie Moonbeard and the Seekers of Shine. Some might see it as blatant visual plagiarism, if not for one obvious fact: Bradford came up with the iconic imagery of a young woman hanging from a restraint, tinkering around inside of a ship on his own. The first full Force Awakens trailer with Rey inside the Star Destroyer doing the same thing didn’t premiere until a week after Bradford’s series was first published last year.
I think it’s important to know this chronology because not knowing it might lead a reader to dismiss the comic as a simple rip-off. It is far from it. Bradford clearly has been thinking about his characters and their motivations long before Rey was a light bulb going off in the mind of Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams as evidenced by his inclusion of the note, “I remembered, as a kid, two movies I loved were Star Wars and The Goonies. I thought about how I could merge those two together. Thus was born Ellie.”
Regardless of Force Awakens ties, Bradford’s comic does invoke memories of Star Wars with its focus on adventure, and introduction of a variety of characters both of the alien and droid variety. I didn’t sense The Goonies as much while reading the first few issues of the series, but I feel that tone will be revealed more as the story continues. I also found that Bradford was effective in establishing the relationships between the characters, especially with the assistance of the artist Nico Selma.
Selma makes the cinematic choice to sometimes distance characters from one another to show a disconnect, or forces them into square panels to show the level of intimacy they share, whether it be with a smiling blue alien named Kalim or android named Elvis. Both Bradford and Selma also do an excellent job including characters who are not prominently featured in the contiguous space adventure such as Ellie’s mother, who we see glimpses of on monitor screens.
These moments are almost dream-like with their soft focus on the mother’s face and her distinct beauty prevalent in the panel. She’s a character that readers will want to know more about because she is so striking. Some of the other character designs aren’t as strong. Selma succeeds at drawing lovely female characters who are both strong and elegant, but his men tend to fall into a manga style that doesn’t quite work for me. For that reason, the human male characters lack a distinct look aside from the inclusion of facial hair, glasses, or another accessory.
There are moments in which Selma deviates from that style for some emotionally driven close-up panels further accentuated by the excellent coloring done by Brittany Peer.
I can confidently say that Peer is the stand-out artist for this comic because she provides the reader with a striking image from the beginning that adds to Bradford’s writing. How can you not be pulled in by a giant blue planet hovering above a magenta background while two ships fly into the frame, one firing green laser bolts at the other? It’s a striking image that got me hooked.
However, therein lies the problem for me with this series so far. It’s a great hook, but I want to see where it goes from here. Some of the characters are more defined than others. Why is there a robot Elvis on the spaceship? That’s a story deserving of its own series. Bradford and his creative team have a great group of characters, now it’s time for him to do more with each because this has the potential to be a special project with joy, energy, and intrigue. I look forward to seeing this galaxy unfold on the pages.