Book Review: Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kevin Panetta

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They’re an elite group of teenage girls with magical powers who have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests. They’re also battling monsters–not your typical after school activity! But when an evil force from another dimension infects team leader Emma, she must work with her team of magically powered friends to save herself–and the world–from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions!



By The Force of Astra is the story of the Zodiac Starforce (ZSF), a group of girls who previously saved the world from an evil goddess named Cimmeria with the magic of the zodiac gifted upon them by another goddess Astra. Two years later, monsters have suddenly reappeared and infected the leader Emma (aka Gemini) with dark energy that will eventually kill her if the source is not destroyed. Unfortunately, the source of the infection is the same evil goddess Cimmeria who has been waiting for an opportunity to return to earth for her revenge.

This graphic novel was pretty good all things considered. There was a great premise, a fun and diverse cast of characters, and amazing colourful art to bring it all to life. There were some downsides too; mainly the plot and a couple things left undeveloped, the latter possibly being attributed to the length of the comic (four issues).

I really enjoyed the premise of ZSF because of the fact that the girls have already saved the world. Most stories, if not all, that I see are usually about saving the world and it ends once that’s done. By The Force of Astra picks up two years after the world was saved which I thought was a good idea. Unfortunately, while the thought was there the execution quickly fell into the typical path of good vs evil with no twist. There was a f/f romance incorporated into the story which was great to see but that was it. Realistically, the chance for romantic feelings to develop in a group as close as the ZSF is pretty high so seeing it realised felt right.

I also really enjoyed the characters. The girls all had different personalities from one another and they seemed in keeping with traits associated with their zodiac aliases. Emma/Gemini had that leadership quality that a lot of Gemini possess, Kim/Taurus had the loyalty of Taurus, Savi/Pisces was the heart of the team, and Molly/Aries was the headstrong Ram. I did have one comment on the characters that I mentioned on Goodreads after reading issue #3 but I won’t mention it here in favour of remaining spoiler free. Another thing I will mention is the feeling that some of the characters were a bit underdeveloped. We learned a bit more about some ZSF members than others, and there were a few scenes with Astra that I wish were expanded upon.

Everything aside I had fun spending this time with ZSF. I have my comments but I think ZSF is a good example of the kind of stories that we need to publish. There was a range of body types and ethnic groups and sexualities, and just a range of representations of femininity overall. Long story short, I think Zodiac Starforce: By The Power of Astra would be a fun read for all fans of the magical girl genre. Will it blow you away? Ehh, that’s up to you. But you will definitely have fun with it.

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