Shatterstar No. 4 review: What will a landlord do for his tenants?


Shatterstar was too late to save one of his tenants on Horus IV. Now that he has entered the gladiatorial arena, there is nothing to stop him from rescuing his people. Or, so he believes.

Shatterstar No. 4

Writer: Tim Seeley

Artists: Carlos Villa, Juan Vlasco, Gerardo Sandoval, Carlos Lopez

Cover Artist: Yasmine Putri

Shatterstar No. 4 cover by Yasmine Putri (Credit: Marvel Comics)

Shatterstar has been on the tail of the Death Sponsors in an effort to rescue his captured tenants. They have been kidnapped as pawns in the Grandmaster’s attempt to garner higher ratings for his shows. In the previous issue of Shatterstar, one of the tenants was killed in battle, and this is the last straw for the time-displaced hero. With a heavy heart, he trudges into the gladiatorial arena on Horus IV, demanding revenge.

Shatterstar may be able to beat his enemies, but can he defeat his past, especially when the past comes in the form of Gringrave, a conniving and ruthless warrior who manipulated Shatterstar when they fought side by side in the past on Mojoworld? With his tenants expectantly looking on, who will be the star of the violent showdown in Shatterstar No. 4?

After a disappointing third installment, this issue of the series picks up with a pacey and perceptive look at the machinations of galactic entertainment. Gringrave is also given a little more substance, though she still comes across as the crazy ex-girlfriend obsessed with Shatterstar. If there is more to her character, we may never know.

Shatterstar’s duty to his tenants seems unintentionally comedic, yet it adds a new layer to a character who could easily have become a generic hero. Instead, readers can easily root for him and his mission, as well as feel the character’s sorrow when he loses one of his tenants. To him, these people are family, which makes any and every loss unbearable.

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Shatterstar No. 4 is definitely the quirkiest issue of the series so far, which is great but does it have to come at the cost of female characterization? We have only just begun the new year, yet comic book art seems to have reached a nadir. It’s been difficult enough ignoring the Death Sponsor character who is dressed in the skimpiest bikini possible, but in the latest issue of the series, Gringrave is given an outfit so outrageous it appears to make a mockery of the character.

There is no way in any galaxy that Gringrave’s outfit would stay in place especially if she had to fight a rigorous battle like the one she does in the arena in Shatterstar No. 4. Comic books have always pushed the boundaries of realism, but when it is coupled with sexism, it feels like a concerted effort to edge out a large segment of the reading population. Shatterstar was supposed to be a celebration of inclusivity with a bisexual hero as its protagonist. The final product, however, has been far removed from anything close to being representative of the experiences and struggles of marginalized communities.

Shatterstar and Pugsmasher in Shatterstar No. 4 (Credit: Marvel Comics)

Shatterstar’s relationship with Rictor was developed only in one issue of this series; his relationship with the never-before-seen Gringrave, on the other hand, has been highlighted in every single installment in graphic detail. The series is only four issues in, but it’s not harsh to criticize it for queer-baiting readers. At least Iceman got an entire year-long run to deal with his sexuality before Sina Grace proceeded with a more plot-heavy series; surely Shatterstar deserves to engage with such an integral part of his character in his own solo series?

The majority of the female characters – who are few and far between – are drawn and written as tropes, intrinsically tied to some male character or the other. The industry has to do better, especially the Big Two. And, in the name of Uatu, give your female characters some proper clothes to wear, Marvel! And those (not) discreet low-angle shots of derrieres? It’s high time to get rid of them. Even hormonal teenagers don’t like those shots any more.

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The cliffhanger in Shatterstar No. 4 is as confusing as it is exciting. What does it mean for the rest of the series? Writer Tim Seeley most likely has a plan, and it will be interesting to see how he makes it work in the next issue. Hopefully, the creative team is able to create well-rounded female characters who can join Shatterstar on his journey. Seeley has assured readers that Rictor will return – that needs to happen sooner rather than later. Readers, young and old, deserve entertainment that champions diversity instead of using it as a prop.