Starhenge #1 ADVANCE REVIEW: Liam Sharp's Arthurian/sci-fi mashup is trippy and epic

Revered creator LIAM SHARP cuts loose in his visually stunning six-issue masterpiece, STARHENGE, BOOK ONE! A future Merlin travels to 5th-century Britain to prevent monstrous time-traveling killer robots from robbing the universe of magic, and Amber Weaver’s lively present-day narrative reveals how she becomes drawn into a war across time! —Image Comics

Excalibur meets Terminator meets Doctor Who —Liam Sharp

Ever since discovering and being fascinated by the legends of King Arthur and his Round Table of knights, I have been a huge fan of any adaptation that came along, highlighted by John Boorman's classic 1981 movie Excalibur, and DC Comics' 12-issue Camelot 3000 (1982-1985), the first "maxi-series" in comic book history.

Over the last 30-plus years, there hasn't been much else in pop culture to scratch my Arthurian itch, other than the Merlin tv series (2008-2013), and the recent, excellent film The Green Knight. So I was really excited to hear about Starhenge, and even more excited to hear that with Liam Sharp as the artist, it was going to look great. But I had never seen Sharp produce anything other than line art in traditional comic book style. Starhenge looks far superior and more sophisticated, in its painterly, more realistic approach. Sharp's painted work is new to me, and can see a bit of Simon Bisley in the style. However, even in the same sequence, Sharp will revert to a monochromatic, sketchy style for no particular narrative reason, that takes me out of the flow.

Intentionally or not, Sharp's mirror image page design created ghostly images of Knights down the center of the page. Or is that just me seeing what I want to see?

However, Sharp is not only the artist, but the writer and letterer as well. At least we assume as much, since he is listed as the sole creative credit. His tale spans time, going back and forth across the ages in a way that calls to mind Sharp's Doctor Who, timey-wimey reference. Some of his epic visual sequences feel more like magical, nightmarish visions than actual events, and maybe they are. This is a universe where magic exists alongside science, which the mentioned alien robot race cannot grasp. No doubt magic will win the day in end. But I expect to see some sweeping spaceship battles, too, or I will be very disappointed!

Multiple double-page spreads are sweeping visions of space battles to come, and a very cool Knight design!

The lead character seems to exist in the past, the present, and the future...and could be either Merlin or King Arthur, or both. Who knows? It's all still a bit vague after only one issue. We also see teasings of the origins of Stonehenge in the distant past, and missing Knights (of the Round Table?) in the far future.

Merlin's reincarnation through time is trippy!

As impressively detailed and creative as Liam Sharp's recent outstanding run on Green Lantern has been, the first issue of his six-issue miniseries Starhenge already surpasses it by a light year. In sheer grandeur, in painterly realism, in design and composition...Sharp is not only hitting for the fences, he is shooting for the stars.

I can't wait to see the rest of this instant classic. I rate issue #1 4 out of 5 POPs.

Starhenge #1 releases this Wednesday, July 6 from Image Comics, your Local Comic Shop and online.

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