Written by Sara Talmadge, Queenie Chan, Katie Jones, Rii Abrego, Ayme Sotuyo, T. Zysk, & Nichole Andelfinger
Art by Sara Talmadge, Jim Campbell, Queenie Chan, Laura Langston, Rii Abrego, Ayme Sotuyo, T. Zysk, Cara McGee, Warren Montgomery, & Grace Park
Published by BOOM! Studios
Release Date: December 14, 2016

There’s an important circular object in Steven’s life and it’s not the cheeseburger backpack. Let’s take a glimpse into Steven’s life through the lens of a donut!

Steven Universe 2016 Special #1 is a charming look into Steven’s everyday adventures. If you’re a fan of the show, you know that this inevitably has to involve his favorite morning pastry. Such a lighthearted take on the series shows us that not everything boils down to Gem politics or conflicts. The human part of Steven is just as real as any other. As much as I love the Gem mythos, I appreciate that this comic departed from that.

There are a slew of writers and artists for this issue who each add their own flair to these donut tales.

In “Clash of Gluttons,” Sara Talmadge and Jim Campbell detail the intense eating rivalry between Amethyst and Steven. Talmadge fuels the firey competition between the two characters with writing, also using soft visuals to infuse comedy into the story, while Campbell uses impeccable letters to mark their speech.

Queenie Chan’s “Big Donut Contest” is playful and imaginative in both visuals and plot with an endearing presence from each character.

“The Donut Thief” is slightly more funky thanks to Katie Jones on writing and illustrations, with Laura Langston adding breezy beach colors and Campbell again using a structured and well-placed lettering style.

Rii Abrego crafts “Health Inspection” with signature Steven style in writing and art, but with the added effect of small though intricate details in colors and lines.

“How to Donuts” gives both the reader and Steven a crash course in creating the sweet delicacy, all because of Ayme Sotuyo’s handiwork. Through fluffy and jovial artwork and dialog, Sotuyo spins what is probably my favorite story in Steven Universe 2016 Special #1.

“Food Fight” is a raucous story that combines the wackiest parts of each of the characters, especially Onion, and combines them with humorously emotive images under T. Zysk. This story is the one I feel would make an entertaining episode because of Zysk’s use of comedy and understanding of the characters.

To round out the 2016 Special, the last story features the wonderful Connie as Nicole Andelfinger, Cara McGee, Langston, and Warren Montgomery tell the tale of a friendly boxcar derby.

This story reminds me that life really does go on in Steven’s universe, even if Gems have stolen the ocean or threatened to obliterate the planet. These lively stories are a great exploration into the world of Beach City and its many inhabitants. With The Big Donut as a central feature, whether directly or through the characters who work there, we get to see a new side of Steven, the Gems, and everyone around them.

I appreciate these kinds of stories because they add a different kind of depth to a canon that does not have to be anchored in critical or heartwrenching stories. Just as our own lives need some humor and lightness, so does Steven’s, and this Special is a great look into such a reality.

Most of the visuals don’t separate from the series, which isn’t unexpected. I do like the difference in the art styles from the extensive art team on the issue, but I also wonder what a Steven Universe story would look like apart from the style we know and love from the television series.

Despite this feeling, I do think Talmadge, Chan, Jones, and Langston steal and the show and imbue the most individuality in their pages. That isn’t to say the entire cadre of artists pale in comparison, but that these artists’ styles help to push the comic further from the source art without detriment to the plot.

On the other hand, while I’d appreciate an exploration of art that isn’t as close to the television series, I do like that the writing matches the personality of every character involved. Getting the people right in a comic that is the derivative of another form of media is vital, and such a mechanic is helpful for maintaining the quality of a series.

Sadie is the best encapsulation of this idea as she is in each of the stories to varying degrees and often helps to spur the main plot of the short tales. Each of the writers excellently portrayed the characters under their pen which made the comic that much more entertaining.

If you want a cute story or you love donuts or both, pick up Steven Universe 2016 Special #1. It has a wide appeal for any reader and can entertain the little ones in our lives or the people who love comics and need some levity on their New Comic Book Day. This comic is an endearing addition to anyone’s collection and is great for the literal or metaphorical rainy day.

The Verdict: 9.0/10



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