‘Zodiac Starforce: By The Power Of Astra’ Graphic Novel Review
written by Kevin Panetta; art by Paulina Ganucheau
Zodiac Starforce: By The Power of Astra introduces readers to an extraordinary group of high school girls from Alexandria, Virginia. These four young ladies have to juggle the responsibilities of their classes, friendships, and romantic pursuits all while saving the world—again. The first member of the Zodiac Starforce readers get to meet is Emma, and she sheds some light on the circumstances readers are walking into. According to her, she has not had to deal with supernatural beings in quite a while: two years to be exact. In fact, the Zodiac Starforce have been on a hiatus because of the peacefulness on Earth. Unfortunately, that streak comes to an end when Emma is attacked by a demon-like beast in the La Reina Public High School’s library.
While she battles the creature, another member of the Zodiac Starforce ends up coming to her aid, Kim. Although the two fighters have been out of game for some time, the girls quickly defeat the monstrous creature but at a price. Emma appears to be ill after the monster’s defeat, and her condition slowly worsens in the days that pass. Not only that, but a new enemy arises from La Reina, and she has plenty of friends willing to do her sinister bidding. Now there is no doubt in anyone’s minds: the Zodiac Starforce must fully reunite to save Emma and defeat this new villainess before the world as they know it changes for the worse.
Zodiac Starforce: By The Power of Astra has an intricate and well fleshed-out lore behind its superheros, and it automatically makes the story that much more interesting. As one could probably guess, the girls each represent a sign of the zodiac. They also possess powers that are characteristic of their sign. For example, Emma, who is Gemini, is able to split herself into “twins.” The girls’ zodiac signs also play a role in their personalities. Since the group’s powers are based upon the zodiac, it lends a basis of familiarity and credibility to the story, its characters, and resulting storyline.
Thanks to the comic’s strong ties with the zodiac, the comic has a diverse cast, which is a refreshing characteristic. The premise of the team readily prompts variation in the girls’ personalities and physical abilities, and those differences are celebrated. The emphasis of the comic is on teamwork and the importance of diversity within that team. The lack of uniformity in regards to race, body type, sexuality, and personality makes the comic much more realistic and relatable for its readers. Not only that, but it is much easier for a reader to become invested in a story and its characters when a sense of personal reflection is possible.
While the comic has plenty of commendable aspects, there are a couple of weaknesses in the piece as well. For one, the trope of mean girls being legitimately evil has been done quite a few times and takes away from the piece’s uniqueness. I would also argue that the main villain’s motivations are weak as well. In fact, her motivation to go after the Zodiac Starforce team shows poor reasoning on her part and undermines any intellectual threat she could have on the group. Not only that, but once readers learn her backstory, any physical threat she poses also diminishes since she is subservient to, and physically dependent upon, another evil being.
In the end, Zodiac Starforce: By The Power of Astra proves to be an enjoyable read. The storyline is still strong, regardless of a couple of shortcomings, and the overall messages of teamwork, friendship, and embracing one’s specific talents will resonate well with readers. Plus, the work is reminiscent of popular all-girl superhero squad, Sailor Moon. So for those of you would like to relive some old childhood memories, Zodiac Starforce just might help you do it.