Steven Universe: Field Researching is volume 3 in the re-launched comic series that started in 2017. It collects issues 9-12 of the series based on the show Steven Universe. This volume fits right along with the previous volume, Steven Universe: Punching Up, presenting four contained slice-of-life stories about Steven, the Crystal Gems, and life in Beach City. Each of the four issues wraps up with no continuation into the next issue, and there is no connection to previous volumes, other than the general setting and characters. This makes it easy for readers to jump in without needing previous context, or to be caught up on the TV show. However, since there isn’t any introduction to world of Steven Universe, this is clearly a comic meant for existing fans with enough of a grounding to recognize and understand the characters.
The short stories in volume 3 focus primarily on how the Crystal Gems’ quirks and personalities affect otherwise fairly common experiences in Steven’s life, including a painting lesson, helping his friend Connie with her homework, taking part in a city-wide food competition, and having a sleepover. In each situation, there are unexpected challenges due to the Gems’ participation, and the characters must figure out how to resolve the issues. Despite the challenges to be faced, the comic’s tone is light and humorous. It never delves into the darker aspects or storylines that come up in the TV show, sticking to quick and fun interludes.
Although each story has the same basic idea to it and can occasionally seem repetitive, the comic on the whole is enjoyable. The book also follows the cartoon’s lead by presenting problems being addressed in a primarily non-violent and empathetic way. The content works for all ages, but the light storytelling and style of humor may appeal most to younger fans of the show. As Steven Universe tends to frequently have long hiatuses, the comic is a fun way for fans to stay engaged while waiting for more episodes.
The comic’s art mimics that of the show, and achieves it well. Characters and settings are easily recognizable and consistent with their on-screen appearances. On the whole, it seems like a smooth continuation of the official animation style that places the reader solidly in the existing universe.
The television series has a significant focus on inclusivity and representation, depicting characters with a range of races, ethnicities, body types, gender identities, and sexualities. In fact, the show has been nominated twice for the GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards, and featured reportedly the first same-sex engagement in an animated show. As the comics focus on the same world and characters, this carries over, but is less visible than in the cartoon. The existing context of the show is what provides the most representation in this case.
Steven Universe is a popular show across many age groups, so this is a good and relatively inexpensive addition to a collection that would make sense to shelve with children’s materials. The publisher’s recommended age group of 9-12 years old seems appropriate. As this doesn’t require having read any of the other spin-off comics at all, purchasing older volumes is not required.
Steven Universe, Vol. 3: Field Researching
By Grace Kraft
Art by Rii Abrego, Whitney Cogar, Mike Fiorentino
Publisher Age Rating: 9-12
Series Reading Order
Browse for more like this title
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13), Teen (13-16)
Character Traits: Indian American, ,
Related to…: TV to Comic