Given the size of his name on the cover and the placing at the top, you could be forgiven for thinking this was a graphic novel titled Jim Starlin, written by someone using the alias of Kid Kosmos.

Starlin has been producing entertaining superhero comics since the 1970s, yet he waited until being the age of a grandfather to turn out one about a teenage superhero. His protagonist is Ray Torres, whose short lifetime has already been filled with disappointment. As we open he’s shipped to another orphanage in another town, and at twelve sees suicide as a viable alternative. That’s when his life changes for the better. Starlin dresses it up slightly, but there’s no mistaking the similarities with the 1960s Green Lantern’s origin of a worthwhile candidate being selected by a cosmic power and bestowed with the ability to do anything as long as he believes strongly enough. That’s largely irrelevant, as it’s not how Ray gets his powers that’s important, but what he does with them. Given the point he was at when his one in a billion jackpot struck, Ray has a greater appreciation than most of the opportunity he’s been given, and there’s the novelty of his being able to communicate with his immediate predecessor while he sleeps. A bigger picture has been indicated by an opening sequence of that predecessor sacrificing himself to buy some time as a destructive race called the Genociders sweeps through the universe, and Ray’s world soon broadens beyond his wildest dreams.

Kid Kosmos is hardly original, but Starlin makes him likeable and sets up the challenges competently enough without ever conveying a feeling of real danger beyond the opening pages. He’s having fun without stretching himself too far, but while the cosmic background people expect from a Starlin story is present and correct, the altogether lighter tone isn’t as likely to appeal to his fanbase. The same applies to the art. Almost everything is classic Starlin, but the exception is Ray himself, drawn as a cartoon figure with oversized eyes and a strange body. The sparkle effect on the costume is nice, but he’s otherwise out of place in a more realistically drawn universe (if that applies to a supporting cast that’s exclusively alien). Kid Kosmos continues with Kidnapped.