Review: I Am Not Starfire

i am not starfire

Title: I Am Not Starfire
Creator: Mariko Tamaki, Yoshi Yoshitani (Illustrator)
Genres: Graphic novel, superhero
Pages: 208 pages
Publisher: DC Comics
Review copy: Library
Availability: Available now!

Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Mariko Tamaki (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass) and artist Yoshi Yoshitani (Zatanna and the House of Secrets) comes a story about Mandy, the daughter of super-famous superhero Starfire, and her desperate attempts to get out from under her shadow.

Seventeen-year-old Mandy Koriand’r is not her mother. Daughter of Starfire and high school outcast, Mandy is constantly trying to get out from under the shadow of her bright, bubbly, scantily clad, and famous mother. Dyeing her bright orange hair black and sticking close to her best friend, Lincoln, Mandy spends her days at school avoiding Teen Titans superfans and trying to hide her feelings for the gorgeous, popular, and perfect Claire. And while Mandy usually avoids spending too much time with her alien mother, she’s been particularly quiet as she’s keeping one major secret from her: Mandy walked out of her S.A.T.

While Mandy continues to tell Lincoln her plans of moving to France to escape the family spotlight and not go to college, she secretly hides a fear of not knowing her identity outside of just being the daughter of a superhero and who she will become. But when she is partnered with Claire to work on a school project, their friendship develops into something more and a self-confidence unknown to Mandy begins to bloom. Claire seems to like Mandy for being Mandy, not the daughter of Starfire.

But when someone from Starfire’s past comes to disrupt Mandy’s future, Mandy must finally make a choice: give up before the battle has even begun, or step into the unknown and risk everything. I Am Not Starfire is a story about mother-daughter relationships, embracing where you come from while finding your own identity, and learning to be unafraid of failing, if it was even failing in the first place. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: I didn’t watch many cartoons as a kid, and I’m definitely making up for lost time now, but one of the shows I managed to watch on the sly was Teen Titans. I want to say Starfire was my favorite character, but pretty much every character was my favorite. In any case, I have always been a huge fan of Mariko Tamaki’s work and seeing that Tamaki was writing a Starfire comic, I was over the moon. I had I Am Not Starfire on my radar for quite a while, and it did not disappoint!

I Am Not Starfire follows Mandy, Starfire’s daughter, as she struggles to escape from the long shadow that Starfire casts as a superhero. As she grapples with her identity and grows closer to her school project partner Claire, she must face who she is and what she wants from the world.

I’m a sucker for stories that center mother-daughter relationships, and I Am Not Starfire is very much about that. With an alien superhero mother front and center, there were moments where the story — and Mandy’s friend Lincoln, if I recall correctly — draws parallels to the difficulties children face when trying to relate or live up to the expectations of their immigrant parents. This angle, along with the blossoming queer romance, is what I really loved about this story. And of course, as you can tell from the cover, the art by illustrator Yoshi Yoshitani is simply gorgeous. You’ll want to pause and really admire the panels as you read.

I Am Not Starfire is a beautifully rendered and fun comic to read. I love the direction of DC Comics recently, with comics like Shadow of the Batgirl (mini-review here) and Nubia: Real One (review here) that are accessible to new readers and written by some incredible BIPOC creators. I hope there will be more like this to come!

And, if you do end up reading and loving I Am Not Starfire, I’d recommend rating it positively on Goodreads or the platform of your choice. It looks like I Am Not Starfire was review bombed with 1-star ratings by angry comics “fans” (ugh), which is really unfortunate given that I Am Not Starfire was a delightful read and doesn’t deserve the hate.

Recommendation: Get it soon!