Endings are weird things to experience. They may be a source of genuine sorrow and loss, but there is always a sense of relief with the end. With the end of Black Stars Above, I’m reminded of the relief. This series is the reason I ventured into being a comic book reviewer. In fact, it’s books like this that give me confidence in this medium. Throughout this series, Nadler, Cha, Simpson, and Otsmane-Elhaou have been imbuing pure literary ingenuity into every panel. This team has cultivated a beautiful synergy that kept an enthralling book at high-grade quality throughout the series.
Lonnie Nadler has graced the comics medium with his prosaic comics, and here he properly shines. With the qualities displayed here, it is a surprise he hasn’t had a stab at published prose novel writing. As a yearning writer myself, Nadler has proffered enough sentences to inspire his readers to write. In earnest, that is always the quality of a great writer: that we, the readers, all leave feeling humbled and taught a new means of communication from our guide. In a small amount of time, Lonnie Nadler has cemented himself as a great writer. Let me say that again: a great writer. Nadler’s skill in telling a story is transcendent upon the medium he works in. Comic books are lucky to have him writing, and are all the better for it.
Not only has Nadler cemented himself within their practice, but Jenna Cha is an absolute wunderkind of an artist. While this is her first book, she has managed to draw at a level that puts other visual artists to shame. While Nadler’s words are powerful on their own, Cha capably visualizes the story as though it were a cave painting. Her aesthetic and pencil figures subtly offer a humanism to the most deranged of images. Despite being in another point of time, despite being in another fathomable dimension, despite following a creature nowhere near human, Cha cultivates a human connection that makes everything feel in place. While this may be her first published piece, I’m excited for readers to get to follow her career after this magnificent work.
Properly pairing the words and drawings together is the work of both the colorist and letterer. Colorist Brad Simpson manages to not only breathe further depth and shadows to Cha’s works, but helps to straighten the reader with all of her bombastic visuals. The color palette that Simpson put into this book really diverges. Truth be told, he managed to turn a white page with an inked dot into a fascinating panel. More so is Otsamane-Elhaou’s letters that really embolden the reading experience. The variations in script and word balloons offer a visual punchline to the prose.
For all the sadness ends usually bring, this one brings great relief. Eulalie’s journey, for all intents and purposes, is over. It’s weird to read the end and then look out into the world with so much anxiety and fear around us. A world that is imperiled by an unknown entity creeping into our routine lives and making tantamount disruptions. But during these moments, we can all look to the sky and believe in the black stars above. May the Black Stars Above guide our way.