I Am Not Starfire is a DC Comics Young Adult graphic novel focusing on an original character who is Starfire’s teenage daughter, Mandy. It is a coming-of-age story that explores what it is like growing up as the child of a superhero when you have no superpowers of your own. How can Mandy find her own footing when everyone expects her to be just like her mother?
I received an eARC copy of I Am Not Starfire for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
I Am Not Starfire is a title that has sparked its fair share of controversy since the first announcement. Mandy was not Starfire and Nightwing’s Earth-22 daughter, Mar’i Grayson, aka Nightstar. Comic fans wanted to know: just who is this Mandy? Who is her father? Why is Mandy not like her mother? Starfire is a very well-loved character, so people were very concerned about the title.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Nightwing. I’ve also always liked Starfire and even reviewed some of her solo series in the past. They are probably my favorite DC Comics couple. I would have loved to see more about them and their daughter Mar’i as well. But, when a comic causes a lot of chatter, I get super interested. And I wanted to give this book a chance because I was curious. I’m happy to say that I found it to be a fast and fun read containing a sweet story with a lot to enjoy.
Please note that there will be some spoilers below.
I Am Not Starfire begins with Mandy introducing herself to the reader. She tries to explain what it’s like to be the daughter of a superhero, but it’s hard for her to say since she has, “…never been anything else.” She wonders if it’s like being the kid of a movie star, but maybe not because there are more movie stars than superheroes. Mandy deals with more than a few people thinking that they know who she is because they know who her mother is. But Mandy couldn’t feel more different. She feels like she is the “Anti-Starfire.”
As the story progresses, the reader is shown what Mandy’s life is like at school. Kids who expect her to be like her mother, or Starfire fans saying inappropriate things about her mother to her. But thankfully she has a friend named Lincoln. He doesn’t care about superheroes or the fact her mom is one. In other words, he is the perfect best friend for Mandy. Other people tend to pry too much into her life, including asking her who her father is, which is not even something she and her mother talk about. Though, Mandy has a feeling she knows who he is.
Things start to get interesting for Mandy when she is assigned a group project with the girl she has a crush on, Claire. Claire is popular and has a lot of friends; she’s always smiling. Mandy hopes she’s smiling because she’s happy. Mandy is thrilled when Claire invites her to her house to work on their group project and later they go to Mandy’s house to work on their project as well.
Mandy feels crushed when she notices that Claire posted a selfie of herself and the Titans who were at Mandy’s house when Claire came over to work on their project. She understandably feels betrayed. Unfortunately for Mandy, soon after that betrayal, someone from her mother’s past shows up and things go from bad to so much worse. What happens next changes Mandy’s life and her relationship with her mother forever.
Writer Mariko Tamaki is a New York Times best-selling comic book writer and Eisner Award winner. She currently writes Detective Comics and the Crush & Lobo series with DC Comics. I think Tamaki does a great job of keeping her audience in mind when it comes to I Am Not Starfire. Mandy is 17 years old, still figuring out who she is and who she wants to be while growing up with a very famous mother. Teenagers don’t tend to see eye-to-eye with their parents, but despite Kory and Mandy’s differences, there is still a lot of love there and more understanding between them both comes in later.
Artist Yoshi Yoshitani has been inspired by numerous cultures and uses their art and stories to influence others to ask questions and keep learning about each other. Yoshi has also worked with Disney, DreamWorks, Netflix, and Image Comics. Yoshi’s art style is whimsical with bright colors. Each character is full of life, expression, and movement. The art is a little different from what we normally see in comics, but that is why I like it. Yoshi’s art stands out. And it’s in a style that resonates with younger readers.
I Am Not Starfire is intended for teen readers ages 13 and up. It is a coming-of-age story of self-discovery that is perfect for readers who are looking for a summer vacation read with LGBTQ+ elements. It’s also perfect for readers who are fans of the Teen Titans. People who have watched the Teen Titans or Teen Titans Go! TV series will be familiar with the characters involved. As far as warnings go, the only thing to really keep in mind is that Mandy is 17 and there is some swearing within the book.
Overall, I enjoyed I Am Not Starfire. I had really no idea what to expect from the book based on the description. But I am happy to say that there is no hatred between Mandy and her mother. They don’t always understand each other, but who really understood their parents when they were teenagers? And what kind of parents completely understand their teenagers? It’s a tough age. I felt like the story was organic and not forced. Mandy was a good narrator of her own story, and you could feel and relate to her frustrations.
My only real complaint is something that I’ve seen many people question and complain about online. Who is Mandy’s father? If you want to avoid spoilers, I would skip the next paragraph. However, I will say that this story doesn’t really say.
Mandy acts like she has an idea of who her father is, but it’s not something that she and Kory talk about. A few people ask her throughout if her father is Nightwing and he does seem particularly nervous about Mandy coming up with a superhero name for herself, but the graphic novel never out-and-out says anything. If Dick Grayson really is her father, why didn’t he or Starfire tell Mandy? We don’t know and I’m not sure why that information was not ever disclosed.
I highly recommend I Am Not Starfire to those who are fans of the Teen Titan franchise. It is definitely geared toward teenagers, but I think it is also something that can be enjoyed by people of any age if they keep in mind the intended audience for this book. It is a fun and easy read that touches on some of the hard things teens deal with while in high school and also still discovering who they really are.
Author: Jessica Rae
Jessica has a BA in music with an emphasis in voice and spends her day typesetting, editing, writing, and moderating webinars. Jessica primarily reviews anime and comic book series. She also offers insights on various movies, books, games, and other geeky topics.
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