OEL Comic Review | Starfighter by HamletMachine



There will be spoilers for the OEL comic series Starfighter.

Content Warning: There may be references to religious references, sexual assault, blood, forced scarification, military, war, violence, bullying, strained familial relationships, prejudice, , possessiveness, racism (use of g-slur), slut-shaming, death, power imbalance, sexual relationship between boss and subordinate (not the main couple), , age gap (not the main couple), break ups, manipulation, spying, obsession, chronic medical problems, mentions of genetic modification, stalking, love triangles, gun violence, death, coercion, imprisonment, homomisia, human experimentation, attempted murder, corruption, and mutiny, as it appears in the comic.


A Navigator is given the name “Abel,” and he's paired with a Fighter who is given the name “Cain.” They are part of the Federated Alliance Fleet, a military force that protects Earth and her colonies, including Mars, where Cain is from. As Navigator, Abel's role is to pilot a ship through , while Cain, the Fighter, acts as the gunman. The two have to work together, especially in this time of war with the looming threat of the Colterons, an alien race that seeks to take over Earth and her colonies, even if it means decimating all human life. However, Abel isn't initially keen on pairing with Cain, as Cain starts their new partnership by biting Abel's lips, leaving them scarred.

A scar, Cain says, proves that Abel is his.

Abel is thrown off and not sure their partnership is going to work, but even when he knows he should be hesitant around the unknown Fighter, he can't help finding himself attracted by his dominance. Ultimately, after only knowing each other for a few hours, the two sleep together. What begins as nothing more than a physical relationship quickly develops into an emotional one, one that Abel is determined to protect while out on the battlefield. What Abel doesn't know is that this relationship might not have started as randomly as he might have thought, and Cain doesn't realize just how important Abel will be to him.


The use of color and lack of color in this one is really fun. Most of the story is in black and white, with pops of color in our main characters' hair. There are also full-color panels or colorful accents to highlight certain emotions, flashbacks, and the like, but it's primarily black and white. Unfortunately, as much as I like the colors and the overall art style, the first chapter is really rough. It's completely night and day from what we see in the beginning to what we get in the end, and while this might dissuade some people from continuing the series, I like that I got to experience the growth and change from beginning to end. Whether or not it was intentional, it really fits with the development of Cain and Abel's relationship. It starts out rough and ragged, violent even but develops into something soft and beautiful. Yes, the beginning isn't the best, but I promise it's worth reading to see the rest of the art. It's also worth mentioning that this series functions as an art book, with extra sex scenes, extra couples, and individual art pieces. It's a lot of bang for your buck (and yes, the pun was intended here).

Cover art for Starfighter Chapter 1 by

Now, on to the story. As with Lucifer's Garden, we have more religious references. For those who may not be familiar with the story of Cain and Abel, Cain and Abel were brothers; one worked the fields, and the other kept the sheep. Abel and Cain were called to give sacrifices to God. Abel's was accepted and praised, while Cain's was rejected. Cain ends up murdering Abel in jealousy and thus becomes the first murderer of humanity. This immediately sets up the hostility of the relationship between Abel and Cain, with Abel being the favored Earth Navigator and Cain being the downtrodden Mars Colonist Fighter. They are brothers in war, but Cain, as the Fighter and a person from the colonies rather than Earth itself, is seen as lesser than, more violent, and less refined than Navigators. Though they have to work together to survive and win the war, their differences cause more in-fighting between the two groups, including between Abel and Cain, who struggle to understand each other. Thankfully, Abel and Cain of this universe don't kill each other (though they are tempted to from time to time) but instead decide to get into bed with one another. Overall, it's an interesting take on the Cain and Abel story, and I enjoyed it.

What can be a bit complicated, on top of the budding , the sex, the war, and the implied betrayal by Cain, however, is the multiple romances and love interests. There's a between Abel and another Fighter over Cain. There's a love triangle between Cain and another Fighter over Abel. Then, that same Fighter seems to be in an implied situationship with his Navigator and the Fighter from the other love triangle. Plus, a higher-up on the Navigator side of things seems to want Abel. Then there is another Navigator and Fighter couple I desperately wish had more screen time because they are so precious. Finally, we have a Navigator who seems to hate Cain and Abel and has a situationship with the higher-up who wants Abel. This starship is messy, and while I would usually be here for the , I really wish there had been less focus on these love triangles and more on the only other established side couple. Yes, the love triangles do play roles in the story, so they are necessary to an extent, but I still wanted more room for my sweet, lovey-dovey side couple. I guess what I should be really complaining about is that this isn't long enough. We need more time rather than less relationships.

In that same vein, unfortunately, as important as the war is made out to be, we don't see any resolution to that, which is disappointing. Of course, the main focus is on the corruption, romance, and various relationships developing and changing around our main characters, but all of that takes place against a backdrop of war. We see a single panel of the enemy, an insect-like alien creature, then there are a few battles across the series, and then there is a final mission where they are trying to destroy a shipyard, and then the Colterons are all but forgotten. The Colterons play the role of the external enemy. Meanwhile, there are multiple enemies within the ranks of the Navigators and Fighters, including the upper echelon of the military, who, though it is immoral, unethical, and could cause significant harm to their subordinates, perform various experiments to ensure victory over the Colterons. Our main characters have to fight the Colterons to survive, and then they have to fight those who should be their allies to do the same. It's an awesome and powerful narrative point, but the series is just too short to fully develop both sides. The war is abandoned in favor of the corruption plot. The corruption plot is partially resolved, with the fate of the rebels up in the air. We really needed a chapter or two more to tie up those loose ends, and I think this would've been much stronger in the end.


I like this. It wasn't quite as powerful to me as Lucifer's Garden, both art and story-wise, but it's a good time all the same. Surprisingly, I don't get to read much in the way of science fiction, especially not to this degree, in BL, so this was a really nice change of pace. I'd have loved for the non-BL, non-relationship, and non- elements to be more developed overall for a more cohesive and satisfying ending, but I didn't dislike it. The extra art and alternate scenarios scattered throughout each chapter really make this feel worthwhile, and I love having these on my shelves. I recommend this series, especially if you like lots of drama, smut, and space.

Have you read Starfighter? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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