27
Sep
08

What I’m Reading: Starman Omnibus Volume One

Let me tell you a bit about my personal history with James Robinson‘s Starman. This was one of several new comic book titles that spun out of DC Comics’ Zero Hour crossover in 1994, and I was going into my senior year of high school. I was still reading a prodigious amount of comics, but funds were limited and I had to be selective about what I bought on a monthly basis. Although I got the zero issue of the comic and enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it enough to add it to my monthly pull-list. The only issues I got over the next few years were the One Million issue (part of the DC One Million crossover, natch) and two issues that crossed over with Jerry Ordway‘s sublime Power of Shazam! series, which I was a huge fan of. Several years later, having heard for I didn’t know how long that this was the best-written superhero comic ever, I finally picked up the first trade paperback, and I loved it. So I got the second volume, and I loved that too. But then… I could never find volume three. And, not wanting to jump ahead in the series, I stopped reading.

Until now.

DC has recently released Starman Omnibus Vol. 1, the first of a projected six-volume set which will collect all 80 issues of the regular series, a few specials and annuals, and the spin-off Shade miniseries, finally, in one place. This first hefty hardcover collects issues #0-16 of the ongoing series. In case you’ve never read the book, Ted Knight was the original Starman, a hero of DC Comics’ Golden Age, a member of the Justice Society of America, and one heck of a swell guy. But when he — like most of his JSA teammates, were fast-forwarded to their true ages during the time crisis of Zero Hour, Ted realized it was time to pass on his Cosmic Rod to a new generation. His younger son Jack, the proprietor of a secondhand store, had no desire to become a superhero, so the rod went to the elder Knight, David, who eagerly embraced the chance to become the new Starman.

And he promptly went out and got killed.

One of Ted’s old foes, the Mist, was targeting not just the new Starman, but everything Ted Knight and his family had built. To save himself and his father, Jack had to take up the weapons of Starman and go into battle, refusing the name and refusing to think of himself as a superhero, even though it was clear from the first page that it was he, and not David, who truly had the hero’s heart.

With the Starman series, James Robinson created a hero of depth and power unlike anything seen since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko turned out Spider-Man. Jack never wanted to be Starman, but he loved his father. Ted never hated Jack, but his disappointment in him gave Jack that impression. David wanted to be his father so badly, but he never got a chance to prove himself. In these 17 issues, which contain three complete storylines and a few assorted one-issue tales, we already see a great deal of development in Jack. We see him agree — if not welcome — to carry his father’s mantle, we see the birth of Jack’s own arch-foe (a decidedly different sort of villain than most comic books), we see the return of an obscure one-time holder to the Starman name and the rebirth of a villain of the Golden Age, and we are introduced to a wonderfully rich supporting cast and a brilliantly thought-out city.

Let’s talk, for a second, about Jack Knight’s Opal City, one of many fictional cities that dot the landscape of the DC Universe. Unlike Metropolis or Gotham, though, whose geography seems to change depending on who’s writing the story that month, Opal City is mapped, planned out, and designed meticulously by Robinson’s collaborator for most of the Starman series, artist Tony Harris. Opal City is as much a character in this book as Jack and Ted, the O’Dare family, the Shade, and the Mist. As a place, it feels alive, it feels real, it feels like the town that could birth a hero.

I’ve long regretted not picking up this comic when it was being published, and have at times wondered if it wouldn’t be more expedient to try to hunt down the back-issues than the horribly-absent trade paperback volume three. Now, I don’t have to make that choice. I’ll be waiting for the new hardcover omnibus each time DC puts one out.

Where I Go Online

Here’s a nifty little website I recently discovered: oneword.com. At this neat site for writers, you are given a one-word writing prompt, then 60 seconds in which to write whatever comes to mind based on that word. No backtracking, no editing, no changing your mind: just put it on the proverbial page and submit it. The word for this week, for example, was “feathered.” Sixty seconds later, I’d written this:

A long beaked bird soared through the air, feathers dangling from the wings, bristling as the wind whistled through them. The feathers were red, blood-red, and the bird itself was as long as a city block, large enough to blot out the sun, large enough to consume anyone or anything that entered its field of vision. It was enormous. It was a monster. It was a god. And, as far as Larry was concerned, it was pretty friggin’ cool.

It’s a fun writing exercise. Heck, even if you’re not a writer, it’s fun. Give it a click and see what you come up with.

 

Stumble it!


1 Response to “What I’m Reading: Starman Omnibus Volume One”


  1. 1 Kylie utz
    November 5, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    omg! i recently picked this up and flipped through it … kinda put it down though, just wasnt feelin it that day (besides, i had the helm to buy *grin* )


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