Oct 5, 2012

A Starman Retrospective

In the mid to late 90s, one mainstream DC superhero comic book expressly had a cult following strong enough to warrant a month dedicated to it at the time of publication and six omnibuses from DC. That series was STARMAN, written by James Robinson and drawn by Tony Harris and, later on, Peter Snejberg. It focused on Jack Knight, the son of Ted Knight, the Golden Age Starman. Jack was a junk dealer who didn't really want to be a superhero, but was kind of thrust into it. He's one of the most relatable, most human superheroes ever, and the series was really top-notch stuff.
And for over ten years, I ignored it. See, when I was a kid, one of my favorite superheroes was Will Payton, who was back then carrying the name of Starman. Will had an awesome costume (the black one, not the yellow and purple one), and equally awesome powers (he shot cosmic blasts out of his hands!). So when this STARMAN series starring Jack made waves, I deliberately avoided it, because Will was my Starman.

Then one day, at a Barnes and Noble in Easton PA, I browsed through a copy of STARMAN: STARS MY DESTINATION, because Will Payton was in it. And you know what I realized? This Jack Knight guy was pretty cool. What's more, this series was pretty cool.

Before I left the United States for good in June 2007, I decided to make one last big comics-related purchase, and I bought the entire James Robinson–written STARMAN run off of eBay, specials and all (I'm only missing the first issue of BATMAN/HELLBOY/STARMAN, but since that's mostly Batman, I don't care).

I felt the need to write about it, but there was a lot to write about, so I did it in five parts. Click the links to get taken to those particular sections:
  • Part 1: Fathers and Sons. A look at the relationships between Jack, David, and Ted Knight, and how they anchor the series.
  • Part 2: Legacy. A look at the legacy of Starman, the arch-enemy The Mist, and the Justice Society of America.
  • Part 3: Opal City. How the setting of the book affected its characters, how the characters from Opal were different from the ones outside it, and
  • Part 4: History, not Continuity. The difference between the two, and how STARMAN uses one to great effect while treating the other as a tool and not a hindrance, and how continuity should help, but not hamper your story.
  • Part 5: The Shade, and the Future. A look at the one character that DC is still using after the end of the series, his spinoffs, and where it may lead.

I hope you join me for a week-long look at one of the best comics of the 90s, and certainly one of the most memorable comics of all time!


Unknown said...

In many ways it was Star Man that got me back into reading comics. Specifically getting into DC which I wasn't really a fan of until Sandman and Star Man hooked me in with the rich history and adult oriented stories. I did miss Harrison's artwork when he left the series, with Robinson's words and the stark use of shadows by Harrison it was both rich in character and design.

-Hunt Stockwell-American

Unknown said...

I've always liked the idea of Starman and the last series with Jack Knight cemented him in my #1 spot for all time. Over the likes of superman & batman.
James Robinson painted a picture of a hero no one had ever done right before.
With the setting of Opal City, we had a place as fantastic as Gotham or Metropolis, a place with it's own story to put our hero and some of the best supporting characters I've read in along time.
I still go back and read them, still loving the rich artwork and great stories. And the way it neatly tied all the Starmen together was perfect.
I highly recommend to anyone to look this series up.

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