Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Comics What Are Great #5 - Starman

Title:- Starman

In a nutshell:- DC Comics publishes a mainstream superhero comic with a beginning, a middle and an end. And rather good it is, too.

The Basics:- DC has a tradition of passing the mantle for many its superhero characters - heroes such as the Flash and Green Lantern have had several different incarnations over the years. In the mid-90s, writer James Robinson revived Starman, a 40s hero whose name had been used by separate characters in the 70s and 80s and it turned out to be something quite different from the usual fare. Weaving together all the different incarnations of the character into one history, it also details the story of Jack Knight, son of the original Starman and reluctant inheritor of the role once his older brother is shot and killed in the first issue.

Why's It So Good?:- Because it is that rare beast amongst superhero comics - a finite story. Most hero-based comics tend to just be rolling, ongoing beasts - it's pretty much unheard of to get one that's got an end in sight. It's also unusual in that the main protagonist, Jack Knight, doesn't want to be a superhero. He's quite happy being a collector and a shop-owner and we follow his journey all the way the heroes career. It's a sprawling epic taking in all of DC Comics history but it's also a smaller, more intimate tale about a group of individuals and the city the inhabit. And that's another unusual aspect of this title - the city itself is as much a character as the people who inhabit it. Add to that the villainous character of The Shade who's maybe not as villainous as he appears and you've got quite a different feeling superhero title.

Surely Some Of It Must Be Rubbish:- Not rubbish but it is still a superhero comic and, as such, you get the occasional issue or segment that refers to events going on in other titles but, both fortunately and unusually, these are few and far between and it can be read on its own (although naturally you'll get more benefit from it if you have a wider knowledge of the DC Universe).

So We Should Seek Out This Thing Of Which You Speak?:- If you're not a big fan of the whole superhero genre then maybe give this one a try. The only drawback is that it may raise expectations which won't then be met if you move on to other spandexy style characters...

Tomorrow's title:- The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen


Anna Russell said...

Ooh, I haven't read Starman for years, I'll need to dig it out. Thanks for reminding me. I've always thought this one got a bit overlooked.

That Baldy Fella said...

I love it. It's definitely an overlooked classic. As is Hitman but in a different way (in a "PG-rated-Preacher-in-the-DC-universe" kind of way).

I think tomorrow will be the last one of these. I seem to have driven everyone but you away with the sustained geekfest....