Morningstar Special #1: Reviews Of Old Comics

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morningstar special 1 coverMorningstar Special #8
April  1990

Wouldn’t you know that I went to find an independent comic to review, and I end up picking Morningstar Special  from 1990, another Elementals issue. This one features story and art from creator Bill Willingham from later in his career when his art style was maturing and becoming a thing of beauty. If you only know of Bill Willingham as a writer on books like Fables, then you’re missing out on a great artist.

SYNOPSIS:

In Avalon, Morningstar has just returned from her honeymoon with her new husband, Ambrose. Fantasia Faust is taking her on an excursion while he catches up on some work he has as regent of Avalon. Unknown to them, they are being followed by a cloaked figure. Their journey takes them by one of Avalon’s biggest tourist attractions, King Arthur’s tomb.

While touring the tomb, Fantasia explains to Morningstar the politics of her job as an assassin. When they’re inside the tomb, they hear their horses being attacked, and Fantasia has to put them down. The cloaked figure reveals himself as Dave Dragavon, the son of a Dragon that Morningstar killed. He has gotten the sword Morningstar used and intends to kill her with it. Fantasia gets in the way of the sword and is impaled. Morningstar uses the opportunity to use her fire powers against Dragavon. Being a Dragon’s son, he is unaffected, but naked. He temporarily knocks her unconscious. Fantasia punts Dragavon a good distance away.

While it doesn’t kill her, the sword stuck in Fantasia is powerfully magic and needs to come out. She gets inventive in removing it and Morningstar decides to go after Dragavon. The forest fire caused by Morningstar’s attack on Dragavon gets the notice of Ambrose who summons a downpour to put it out. As Dragavon, naked and wet, finds his cloak, Morningstar and Fantasia find him. He gets the drop on Morningstar and threatens to kill her, to which Morningstar replies that then her husband will have him killed and then someone will seek revenge for him, causing a cycle of killing that can never stop. Dragavon relents.

Ambrose appears and tells Dragavon that he can bring his father back. The sword houses his soul, which Ambrose puts into a frog. As Dragons are natural shapeshifters, this restores Dragavon’s father is completely restored to life. Upon leaving, he tells Dragavon that Morningstar will have to be killed, as dragonslayers like her cannot be allowed to exist. Days later Morningstar and Amrose play in bed and discuss that Dragavon’s father could be anything anywhere and could even be watching them at that precise moment, just as a little mouse winks from the windowsill.

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REVIEW:

Bill Willingham had Morningstar marry Ambrose in Elementals Vol.2, #7. This special takes place about a month after that issue, during the time the other Elementals were fighting vampires in Philadelphia. With this story he uses two characters that he retained ownership of after he sold the Elementals to new Comico owner Andrew Rev, Dave Dragavon and Fantasia Faust. He would go on later to use them in his Adults-only series Ironwood, but much of their character and attitude to each other is shown and formed here. Fantasia is made a little more sympathetic, and Dragavon is shown to be powerful, but a little incompetent.

In this story, Willingham gets to explore traditionally fantasy themes. With Willingham’s propensity to give rich backgrounds, this is a great place to set a story. Bill Willingham makes it seem like a real place with little bits like a horse rental business and King Arthur’s tomb being called “a tourist trap.” The politics of such a world get touched upon, but it wouldn’t be until Ironwood that Willingham would be able to fully explore it.

Willingham went too wacky with Ambrose’s clothing choices. Some panels seem to be drawn too much on the side of gratuitious cheesecake, but all nudity is covered, both male and female, but I would definitely consider this a mature readers title. The colors are a little too flat, but work well with Willingham’s style, although I would love to see it with one of the top colorists of today adding their touch to it.

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NOTES:

Like with all Elementals comics, this issue has never been collected and is likely never to be, as the rights are up in the air. If you’re looking for the individual issue, then you shouldn’t have to pay more than few bucks for it, even in pristine condition. You may even be able to find a copy in bargain bins.

FINAL RATING: 8.5 (out of a possible 10)