Shatterstar No. 5 review: There’s one final battle left


Shatterstar was disintegrated by the Grandmaster, but now he’s back and he’s ready to fight in the final issue of the series. But is he ready to fight… himself?

Shatterstar No. 5

Writer: Tim Seeley

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

Cover Artist: Yasmine Putri

Shatterstar No. 5 cover (Credit: Marvel Comics)

Trapped in the gladiatorial arena on Horus IV, Ben Gaveedra/ Shatterstar was trying to come up with a plan to free his captive tenants. But, in the previous issue of the series, the Grandmaster decimated our protagonist with a simple snap.

In Shatterstar No. 5, ‘Star has returned to try and defeat the Grandmaster one last time in front of a baying crown. But no matter what he attempts, the Grandmaster stands strong. Brute strength is not going to be enough.

Especially not when the Grandmaster has a surprising ace up his sleeve. Like all clever show producers, the Grandmaster has a plot twist ready to improve his ratings and keep the show running for more seasons. Since he’s a creature that can conjure anything, why not create… multiple versions Shatterstar? On the battlefield, it’s Shatterstar versus Shatterstar. If that doesn’t get the crowd exciting, nothing else can. Will the real Ben Gaveedra win this battle?

The final issue of this solo series is a pacey, crazy and emotional journey for the titular time-displaced hero. ‘Star is devoted to his tenants, but going up against a cosmic being like the Grandmaster makes a person wonder if the effort is even worth it. For Shatterstar, it definitely is.

The Grandmaster is quintessentially larger-than-life, which doesn’t make him the most engaging villain in comics. He’s more of a tool to eke out Shatterstar’s characterisation, but that is an aspect of the character that isn’t fleshed out as thoroughly as it should have been in this series. We don’t get Shatterstar’s internal dialogue, which makes him little more than a passenger in his own title.

The tenants get a few panels in this finale, which is great because they are an eccentric group of characters who were sidelined throughout the series because of Shatterstar’s past dalliances with Gringrave. It’s a shame to admit it, but the lack of Gringrave certainly added to the quality of this final issue.

Shatterstar No. 5 is quite action-packed with the majority of the scenes taking place in the arena. The team of artists and colourists do a fantastic job of emulating motion in a static medium. What is especially wonderful to see are the different versions of ‘Star that pop up throughout this issue. It’s an appropriate acknowledgement of the character’s brief but colourful comic book history.

Shatterstar No. 5 (Credit: Marvel Comics)

Shatterstar, as a series, has been patchy at best. A series like this really should have leveraged known entities from a character’s history, rather than create new ones. There were only five issues to re-introduce ‘Star, pay homage to his romance with Rictor, introduce all the tenants, set-up the central conceit, and go back and forth between the present and the past. It was too much to cram in to such a short space, which meant some aspects were given undue weightage over others.

Too much page space was devoted to a trope-y character like Gringrave, when the person calling the shots – the Grandmaster – is visually more interesting and has much more to add to the story. Rictor should also have featured more in the series, as he is integral to Shatterstar. ‘Star himself has not been given his due, though the final issue does rectify several of these problems and brought in several elements of his story to end on an emotional and touching note.

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Shatterstar has quickly gained fame because of his brief on-screen appearance in Deadpool 2, and hopefully this means that he will feature more prominently in other titles (solo or otherwise) soon. For now, it was enjoyable to read this solo series, but it didn’t quite do the character any favours. If Shatterstar returns for a solo series again, there needs to be more poignant meat on the bones of the story for it to be truly memorable.