The first issue of Brian Wood’s Starve left a lot to be desired. There were areas that needed more work done on, especially in the story and satire department. Hopefully now that the comic is past the first issue and setting things up, it can really start taking off! Is it good?
Starve #2 (Image Comics)
It’s time for the next round of Starve and Gavin Cruiskank has been given his next challenge (after a bit of drinking all night with a friend/agent): prepare a delectable meal using Bluefin Tuna, which is nearly extinct in this world. This may be Gavin’s first chance to make a statement and put the rest of the world and audience to shame with his food.
This issue of Starve came across as an improvement over the first, but still felt like there needed some more fine tuning. Starting with the story, it’s better here and has moved beyond all the awkward setup. The first half is primarily character-focused as Gavin and Sheldon just hang out together before the next taping of Starve. It helps to build a friendship between the two, making them feel more real and human in some ways. It also introduces a new character, who could become a regular depending on how she is used. The second half is the competition, which was handled alright. You get to see how the show works, getting an idea of the elitism going on with the show and food through this whole Bluefin tuna meal. These elements are fine and build up this world some more.
Your city seems very red and orange to me.
However, the story stumbles in execution again. There still remains the problem of a lot of telling instead of showing in the comic. Again, the characters insist the world is bad right now due to this huge class divide between the poor and the rich and the fact that this tuna is almost extinct. We are constantly being told these things, but we never really see any proof of it. Or if we do, the images we see come across as underwhelming or not all that dire looking given how bad they were built up to be (An area with a lot of litter and a person pushing a shopping cart? Considering it’s New York, that’s not all that shocking). Also, some of execution of the scenes can be weak as well, like when Gavin and his daughter shame the judges for enjoying the tuna cooked for the meal. It comes across as heavy-handed and stilted in the way it’s delivered. Heavy-handedness can be necessary at times, but it sounded so forced it the way the characters went about it. Honestly, the scene would have been better if Gavin executed his plan a bit more subtly (the plan was already pretty clever to begin with considering how he made the meal).
Looking to the other parts of the writing, there are some good points to be found. Gavin is still a pretty well characterized individual with his own defined goals, personality, and intelligence. He’s becoming more likable and you honestly do want to root for the guy and his plan. Like last issue, there isn’t much development for the other characters (outside of Sheldon), so it’s a bit disappointing in that regard. Pacing is much better and the story doesn’t have any awkward transitions that break up the story flow like last time. The dialogue and narration are acceptable, but nothing too memorable or engaging (except for the last line delivered by Gavin in the book, which was pretty great). As for the satire, I suppose it’s there (the whole idea of an extinct animal being used for a cooking show), but it’s not particularly insightful or saying anything new about cooking shows or the wealth gap. A little disappointing in that regard, but the overall writing package is better than last time.
Dina also has a way with words I can see.
What hasn’t improved is Danijel Zezelj’s artwork. The characters still look odd with the line work and the body portions in areas (heck, at some points, some characters look similar, like Sheldon and Gavin). Everything always comes across as muddy and ugly looking in the drawing and coloring, so it’s hard to tell the difference between who and what represents the rich and the poor. The food doesn’t look appetizing while the cooking itself isn’t all that impressive or interesting to look at (in one panel, it looks Gavin poured a bottle of ink over the food). There are even some artistic hiccups at times. For instance, Gavin asks one of the judges why she is crying at the end. The thing is though that the panel in that he has asks that, she isn’t crying at all. It isn’t until the next page that she is crying.
Is It Good?
Starve #2 is an improvement over the first issue in a couple of ways. The story is finally underway and the writing has gotten a lot better with the dialogue and pacing. It still feels underwhelming in areas, like with how it continues to tell instead of show most of the time, and the artwork in general isn’t great. I still cannot recommend the comic at this time, but I can say that if you did like the first issue, this is a marked improvement over it.