Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

STARMAN by James Robinson and Tony Harris


Shorter Recommendation: Robinson and Harris' STARMAN is everything that is great about modern superhero storytelling, while still evoking the wonders of the golden and silver ages.

Longer Recommendation: I heartily recommend James Robinson and Tony Harris' STARMAN. It is, perhaps, one of the best exercises in bridging DC Comics' past (i.e., Ted Knight's original Starman) with the modern universe (i.e., the mid-1990s universe with Ted's son, Jack Knight, taking up the mantle ... er, staff ... reluctantly).

In the series, which spun out of the ZERO HOUR crossover event of 1994, Robinson expertly deals with other characters in DC's history who have taken up the name "Starman," weaving them almost effortlessly into the tapestry of his own Starman.

Interlocking Covers of Starman #57-#62 (Art by Alex Ross and Tony Harris)

The setting for this series is Opal City, city of gleaming spires and art deco architecture. And what a setting it is! In Robinson's prose and Harris et al's art, Opal City becomes as much a supporting character as a setting. This is one fictional city that can easily hold its own against a Gotham or Metropolis. In fact, the jewel of Opal might even surpass her better-known sisters.

The Glory that is Opal City (in a two-page spread from "Sins of the Father")
Map of Opal City 

The series also includes the wonderful reformation of an old villain, The Shade, who becomes something of a more heroic persona, evan aligning himself with the younger Starman. The Shade is a perfect foil because as much as Jack Knight loves the past, particularly the past of Opal City, Shade has actually lived that past, his life stretching back to 1838 and spanning across the Atlantic.

Finally, it must be said that after creating Jack Knight and populating Opal City, Robinson then crafted a near-perfect ending for STARMAN. I say "near-perfect" because ... well, that would be a spoiler, now, wouldn't it? Oh, wait, I do have a spoiler-free way to tell you why I say Robinson's ending for STARMAN was "near-perfect" -- I didn't want this series to end, dammit! But end it did with issue #80 ("Arrivederci, Bon Voyage, Goodbye" | August 2001). Most of the series was collected in trade paperbacks. But the entire series -- including Annuals, an 80-Page Giant Special, special appearances, and  a single issue continuation, STARMAN #81 (March 2010) from the Blackest Night crossover event -- has been collected in six omnibus hardcovers. Unfortunately, one or two of the HC volumes will be difficult (read: expensive) to acquire.

Starman Omnibus Vol 1 - 6 (HC)

I hope you have enjoyed this brief overview of one of my favorite comic book series. Keep looking to the stars!

Golden Age Starman and His "Gravity Rod"

Jack Knight's "Cosmic Staff" (the prototype for the "Gravity Rod")

Recommended listening: "Starman" as covered by Dar Williams

The bulk of this post was originally written on 2/15/15 in reply to a Facebook thread. I revamped it with images for Bookended with Cats on 5/21/15. 

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