Flying Through Space: why you need to be reading Starman

I was thinking about what my next blog post should be and here I am just sitting at my desk staring at the trades I brought up to school with me. Most of the trades are titles I am currently reading with the exception of my Alan Moore stuff, which I never like to be to far from. That’s when I decided maybe I would write a post about James Robinson’s Starman

Some people see the ‘ 90s as a black spot on the world of comics with there machismo male heroes and hyper sexual vixens, comics were more artist driven than they were story oriented. The Image comic founders who left Marvel comics to create and distribute their own characters were writing the types of comics I was writing in my fourth grade class. The Jim Lee’s, Todd McFarlane’s, Wilce Portacio’s, Dale Keown’s, and Rob Liefield’s of the world were essentially bastardizing and ruining comics, and the clones that followed didn’t help.

Of course these titles made money and the comic book company executives lived like fat cats, essentially devaluing comics with over printing and so on.

So is everyone still on board?

Now you may be asking yourself how does this post tie into an article about Starman, well let me tell you. Despite the mediocre books being put out by Image comics there were still some promising things to happen during the ‘ 90s in comics. We had the wonderful Preacher series written by Garth Ennis, we had the start of Jeff Smith’s Bone, we had the Spider-man clone wars (just kidding), and we finally had a title DC put out called Starman written by James Robinson and mostly drawn by Tony Harris.

I haven’t finished Starman yet so maybe it is a little bit presumptuous of me to be writing an article singing the merits of the book, but the first three omnibuses have been awesome and I am looking forward to the rest.

So why do I like Starman, well as part of my Marvel purge I decided to pick up and check out Starman. I former Marvel Zombie I became tired with what they were bringing to the table. I felt like there was too many events, I knew all the origins, the writing staff wasn’t cutting it or else they weren’t communicating when writing all these tie-ins. Now DC I knew a little bit, I knew Bruce Wayne was Batman, Barry Allen was the Flash, and Hal Jordan was Green Lantern but the world of DC comics was fairly new to me.

So one of the first things that I decided to read from DC was a little story about Jack Knight The Starman.

Starman was a unique book that maybe isn’t saying as much about the world around us like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, or anything written by Joe Sacco. But Starman develops its characters, it has a realistic environment; the side characters and the connections Jack Knight makes in the book are just as important as the lead character.

The city, Opal City, has a certain identity an identity that shapes Jack Knight, and as a reader you get the sense that the city raised the character as much as his family did.

The book is essentially about interactions, Jack’s interactions with the O’Dare family, interactions with bad guy/ good guy the Shade, him re-building a relationship with his father, his complicated relationship with villain the Mist and the child he doesn’t know. The book is about relationships to past Starmans and how his role as Starman is somehow connected to or is mirroring those of ones past.

Robinson establishes mythos for Solomon Grundy, a mythos that is used to explain the various retcons of the character. Why is Grundy smart and strong in one book and maybe dumber and weaker in the next? Well to explain that Robinson establishes that Grundy is different within each incarnation, every time he dies a different version of is born or comes out. It’s sort of like Bruce Banner’s multiple personality disorder, each one of his personalities result in a different version of the Hulk.

I am beginning to lose track of things I want to discuss, but I know that the city- Opal City is like an expression of who Jack Knight is. A city that is old and derelict but tries to disguise itself as modern and new. Jack is a young man interested in old man things. He deals in old junk: he collects radios, old books, records, if you can collect it he has it. Essentially Jack is like the city except he is a young man with an old soul and the city is old with a young look.

So after all that praising of the story construction I suppose it is time that I give credit to the artist. Tony Harris is really a genius and the guy that is doing his inks is just as amazing.

Robinson can be credited with the ideas but Harris brings it to life, I mean his virtuosity is amazing. He can draw people, cityscapes and so on. Harris doesn’t draw in that typical ‘ 90s style either, you know the style of drawing where everyone is wearing  skintight clothing. No, Harris doesn’t shy away from drawing complex costumes he puts in the time to make characters real he is creating reality.

Jack Knight wears jeans, a jacket and a pair of goggles that is more clothes then all of the characters of the WildC.A.T.S wore. So you have to appreciate the guy going against the norm, going against the grain and passing on doing the Image comic thing.

So I know I have rambled on enough about this series but just give it a shot that is all I am saying. Don’t expect going in to have your outlook on life and the world to be changed. Just expect a good story with solid character development.

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