Stop what you're doing and buy the new omnibus graphic novel of Teri S. Wood's 1990s comic series Wandering Star. It's amazing. Splendtacular, even.
Set in the future, it is the tale of Cassandra Andrews, daughter of the President of Earth, and how she became embroiled in a galaxy-spanning war for freedom from tyranny. Wood takes what could be a generic science fiction trope and creates something new and different by weaving in hard, realistic racism, xenophobia, religion and philosophy (which are shockingly and sadly relevant to current world events) paired with well-defined and incredibly likeable—and hateable—characters. In fact, the characters and story are so strong and relatable the scifi setting becomes a simple backdrop, the room in which the tale unfolds. The plot is tight, marching forward chapter by chapter, without excess or unnecessary tangents. It is humorous, horrific, endearing, and heart-crushing all in equal measure.
The art is just as good as the story. Wood is a master cartoonist who has a command of human anatomy and understands how to bend, squash and exaggerate it to create visually charming characters, both human and alien alike. Her lines are fluid and alive and playful. I marvel at the stippled, hand-drawn pen and ink effects she puts into every page that make the art in Wandering Star so unique. What's more, Wood knows how to use sequential art and camera angle to deliver both side-splitting comedy and emotional gut-punches. (And I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the rad 90's pop culture and indie comics references hidden in the background details of the art.)
While the series has been collected into graphic novels in the past, those editions are long out of print and nowhere near the quality of this new omnibus. The glossy paper in this new edition makes the black and white art crisp and shiny. The hard cover with wraparound jacket featuring new art will compel you to put it on full display on your bookshelf. The extras at the back—including Wood's amateur sixteen-page first attempt at a Wandering Star comic—are worth the price of the book alone.
I first discovered this comic series back in the 1994 and immediately fell in love with it. Reading this new, shiny collection was like visiting an old friend that I didn't realize I desperately missed.
Read it. Love it. You won't be disappointed.
Follow Teri S. Wood (who now goes by the name Resa Challender) on her website, Facebook, Twitter and DeviantArt.