Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "starman"

Book Review: Starman Omnibus, Volume 1

The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 1The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 1 by James Robinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Issues 0-16 of James Robinson's acclaimed 1994 Starman series, a book that starts out really strong but loses some luster as the book goes on.

The first story is Issues 0-3. Jack Knight is a seller of antiques and collectibles. He's the son of Ted Knight, the original Starman. His brother has taken on the Starman mantle but is killed off in Issue 0 and Jack is pursued by one of his father's old enemies, the Mist.

Jack is an interesting character to say the least. As he's into antiques and old stuff, you'd think he'd be the first to want to carry on the family tradition as Star Man, but he's really trying to define himself. In this book, he esches a costume beyond goggles and getting a Starman tatoo on his chest. He also makes it clear he won't go on patrol but if he decides to go into action...villains watch out. He seems like a character rife with potential with a lot of growth and not sure who he's going to be or who he's going to turn out.

The book also reintroduces the Shade, a character who was famous as a Gold and Silver Age villain who here has basically settled in Opal City and wants to keep things quiet and safe. Thus he becomes an ally of Jack Knight and is really probably a bit of an anti-hero.

Issues 4-11 are really a series of character two pieces. There's only one real two parter here. Of these eight issues, two don't even focus on Jack Knight with one being a story of the Shade meeting us with Oscar Wilde and another telling as story of his father's hunt for a dangerous Manson-like klller that ended in someone committing murder.

If the book was building up to anything, it appeared to be Issues 12-16, the sins of the Child story arch and unfortunately, that story is problematic as the story is bad. Issue 12 ends with our hero in little more than his underwear and about to be shot and then the next three issues are all told about supporting characters experience the same including some that have nothing to do with the events of our hero's predicament. And when we get back to Jack in Issue 16, we get a denouement that's far from satisfying.

The book concludes with one of the most spectacular pieces of rambling disconnected prose in which Robinson explains the source of his work on Starman and wonders off in a thousand directions.

That said, there's a reason why I gave this book four stars. Even when he was wandering off on a side trail, it was usually a pretty interesting one. The one shot stories were also solid for the most part.

Robinson has flaws and I can't help but wonder if he'd taken too much positive press to heart as some gimmicks seemed overdone, particularly the discussion of films by enemies during battles/fights.

I'm curious enough to probably pick up the second volume and see where this story is going. The characters are intriguing and I wonder who Jack Knight will become. This book left me intrigued but not sure I'd like the answer.



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Published on March 05, 2014 22:11 Tags: starman

Book Review: Starman Omnibus, Volume 2

The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 2The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 2 by James Robinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This Second Volume of Starman stories really finds Jack Knight coming into his own. The book collects Issues 17-29 and Annual #1 of Starman along with three stories from Showcase '95 and '96.

The book has a great amount of balance. The book has some noirish moments and a few edgy stories but at the same time offers up a big helping of nostalgia particularly with flashback stories to Ted Knight, a guest appearance by an aging Wesley Dodds who goes back into action as the Sandman and the book also includes a class Christmas issue.

At the same time, the stories have a very modern edge with well-done art (particularly for the era) as well as some fascinating characters. The Shade continues to be an eminently fascinating anti-hero. They battle some solid villains including a serial killer and an evil demonic poster (although the resolution of that plot was a bit non-sensical.) More importantly, Jack progresses as a character and begins to embrace his heroic side. Overall, a very satisfying second Volume of this series.



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Published on April 14, 2016 23:56 Tags: dc-comics, starman

Book Review: Starman Omnibus, Volume 3

The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 3The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 3 by James Robinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The genius of James Robinson in Starman is that he succeeds at doing things which on other writers come off as pretentious or far too twee.

This book collects the four issue Shade Mini-Series as well as Issues 30-38 of Starman, Starman Annual #2, and Starman Secret Files #1.

The Shade mini-series is all about the anti-hero turned hero Shade running into a family in the 1840s with a murderous secret that he stops and how he finds himself haunted by them for centuries. It's an incredibly story and shows how much Robinson did on re-invigorating the character.

The main body of the book is somewhat unremarkable. There are no big DC events, no earth-shattering threats to Opal City. Much like its antique owner hero Jack, it has a great sense of nostalgia but makes that nostalgia seem cool and intriguing. This is helped by the changing relationship between Jack and his Father as they're much more at peace and that makes the nostalgia and respect feel more natural. The book dives into the history of Opal City and even into the far more obscure 1988-1992 Starman.

The book is not perfect. The idea of Jack meeting his dead brother is a bit of an oddity. That it happens every year to the point that the story here references the year as an annual is a bit nuts in a series that comes out with one issue a year.

Still, while the book isn't perfect, it's beautifully written and quite stylish.





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Published on September 30, 2017 08:35 Tags: jack-knight, starman

Book Review: The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 4

The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 4The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 4 by James Robinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Issues 39-46 of Starman, The Power of Shazam #35 and #36, Starman 80 Page Giant #1, Starman-The Mist #1 and Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1 and #2

The Book starts off with #39 and #40 and the crossover with the Power of Shazam. It's probably one of the oddest given that Starman was a pretty edgy title and Power of Shazam was as close to a "kids" book as DC had. Jack tries to protect a Golden Age superhero and give his dad cover to get the superhero to safety which includes a battle with the Big Red Cheese. There are some inconsistencies (and not just in writing style) between the two books. Not bad, but not a great fit either.

Issue #41 has Shade and Matt O'Dare killing a bunch of people who know he's a crooked cop so he can be a good one. This one does develop the Shade's relationship with O'Dare.

Issue #42 is a tale of Times Past when the original Starman's naturalism is challenged by the demon Etrican.

The 80-page Giant starts with Jack coming after the Ragdoll but the reader discovers the plot centers around an object that's tied into the history of many characters in the Starman universe going back to the Old West. Very fun with a variety of different styles and stories.

Issue #43: We see Jack's new shop in great detail and he goes to see the Justice League about getting a spaceship. It's a nice story and sees Jack interacting with DCU characters.

Starman-The Mist #1: A story on the mother of Jack's son getting involved in a job for the Black Hand and meeting Mary Marvel. It's part of a series on "Girlfriends" of Superheroes that was done back in the 1990s. Okay, but not particularly remarkable.

Issue #44: Things that go Bump in the Night-Introduces Sandra Knight (aka Phantom Lady.) Kind of shallow characterization. Okay, but not all that interesting.

Issue #45: Jack leaving Earth on a spaceship to find his current girlfriend's brother and making sure city stays in safehands. Jack started the leaving Earth thing back in the previous Omnibus and it says something about the series that it can work with this much digression.

Issue #46: Another tale of Times Past from the 1950s involving the Supervillain Bobo coming to the Shade because someone's going to kill Starman. A pretty good story.

Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1 and #2: Jack's dad is kidnapped by a group of Nazis and Batman and Hellboy investigate in Issue 1 and then Hellboy and Starman go and fight them in Issue 2. This story is right up Starman's alley. I felt like this could have just been Hellboy and Starman, but that someone at one of the companies concluded that Starman wasn't popular enough to carry the crossover on his own. Batman didn't need to be in this book. Still doesn't hurt the story.

Overall, this volume still good, but not as much as previous installments. There's still that golden age nostalgia, but not quite as much foreward momentum. Still, even at less than it's best, this is still really good and I'll be checking out the next volume for sure.



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Published on November 08, 2018 05:14 Tags: dc-comics, hellboy, starman

Book Review: The Golden Age Starman Archives, Volume 1

The Golden Age Starman Archives, Vol. 1The Golden Age Starman Archives, Vol. 1 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects all of the Star Man comics drawn by Jack Burney (except for those done for the JSA Crossovers.) This book features Starman stories from Adventure Comics #61-76.

The Good: The art is marvelous, simply put some of the best Golden Age Art I've seen not drawn by Jack Kirby. Really some great stuff for the era. Starman is a cool design and I love the gravity rod (even though more explanation of the whys and wherefores of how it worked would have been nice.) The ride is what you'd expect from a book mostly written by Gardener Fox, with a nice mix of sci fi and battling mobster giving way to battling saboteurs as America moved to a war footing. However, Fox also came up with a very strong villain in the Mist and to have a villain turn out to be a keeper in these golden age books is rare.

The bad: There are a few nitpicks. The book struggles a couple times to be consistent about where Starman's rod was. In one panel, after being captured Starman brags that he had it attached to his wrist even though a previous panel showed he didn't. The personality of Ted Knight is annoying. It seems that Fox got tired of writing the same sort of foppish or nerdy secret identity and it was decided that Ted Knight would be an insufferable hypochondriac. Thankfully, he's usually out of the story rather quickly, ut it a quite terrible idea.

OVerall, a decent book that's a fun read for fans of Golden Age comic art.



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Published on January 01, 2019 00:06 Tags: dc-comics, golden-age, starman

Book Review: The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 5

The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 5The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 5 by James Robinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is probably the weakest of Robinson's Starman omnibuses. The Opal City cast of characters is placed on hold as Jack and Michael journey off into space and a new artist is brought in to boot. '

Nevertheless, the book is enjoyable for what it is: A romp through the cosmic DC Universe with visits to figures such as Adam Strange, and even an encounter with a more sinister and traditional version of Solomon Grundy, all in search of a previous Starman Will Payton...which ultimately ties into the story of yet another Starman Prince Gavin.

Outside of the space arc, there's a big filler issue at the start that kind of bleh. We get a times past story involving the Shade, which worked well enough. There's a visit from a Starman of the Future to Ted Knight as part of the DC One Million event which was fine. There was a story about the original Starman in the FBI from JSA All-Stars that was decent and featured Tony Harris back on art. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 is in here Jack guest stars along with his dad and the book mostly sets up that comic and tells a story about the original Star Spangled kid. It's okay, though a bit out of place. Then there's a story at the end featuring from All Star Comics 80-page Giant featuring a sparring match between Jack and Wildcat which is not bad, but is kind of pointless.

Overall, not the best in the series, but still a pretty good read.



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Published on June 29, 2019 08:17 Tags: jack-knight, starman

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
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