Starman (vol.2) #27 (1997)

Starman (vol.2) #27 (February, 1997)
“Christmas Knight”
Writer – James Robinson
Guest Pencils – Steve Yeowell
Inks – Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors – Pat Garrahy
Letters – Bill Oakley/N.J.Q.
Assistant Editor – Chuck Kim
Editor – Archie Goodwin
Cover Price: $2.25

Merry Christmas (on Infinite Earths)!  Thanks to my inability to read a calendar properly… welcome to Day thirteen in our Twelve Days of Christmas on Infinite Earths.  If I’m still doing this next year… note to self: Start on December 14th… not December 13th!  Ya hear that, future Chris?

Anyhoo… Merry, Merry… and Happy, Happy…

We open as the elder O’Dares prepare their family Christmas feast while discussing the merits of cranberry sauce… both real, and can-shaped.  After enduring each other’s best Cratchit impressions, they chat about the pending arrival of family-friend Jack Knight… and his raspberry champagne punch.  He should arrive any minute… but where might he be at this very moment?  Why he is on his way… but after running into… Santa Claus, it seems as though his route might just become a whole lot more scenic.

Okay, this isn’t the “real” Santa Claus… just a man who has fallen on (extremely) hard times.  He tells Jack that his locket was just stolen… a locket which contained the last picture of his wife and son… who passed away after a car accident.  He continues, informing Jack that shortly after the wreck, he’d kind of fallen apart… turned to the drink.  After one night falling asleep with a lit cigarette… he lost everything… except that locket.  He’s dressed as Santa Claus as he’d taken a job as a bell-ringer… and while he was working, his own clothes were disposed of.  Jack agrees to find the missing jewelry.

Jack and Santa approach a transient who might just have a hot tip.  It is here that we learn that Santa know the thief’s name… Danny Tolk.  For $20, their informant advises them that Tolk went to the “West Side Pits”.  Jack gives the man $40 and tells him to find somewhere warm.  Before they depart, the informant mentions that Tolk was not alone… with him was a man who looked like he was wearing a monster mask.

We get to see a few vignettes from the O’Dare’s Christmas get-together.  Family members arrive, and reconnect… it all feels very natural.  Even when families are close… there is still that possibility of having a sort of “adjustment” period.  Really dig this.  The O’Dares are soon joined by two more Starmen… the original, Jack’s father Ted Knight, and our old friend from 1st Issue Special, Mikaal Tomas!  They are accompanied by Jack’s friend Charity… which causes Faith to laugh… seeing as though the party now has a Hope, a Faith, and a Charity.

Back with Jack… he comes across a fella who was with Tolk when the locket-shakedown happened.  The transient is very apologetic, and claims to have only taken part because he was hungry.  Rather than run the guy in, Jack hands him $150 to get all of the local homeless a hot meal.

While this is happening, the O’Dares get a very special guest… The Shade!  I know for many folks who read this run on Starman, Shade is very much a highlight.  It was the time in which so many of us really met him, and saw the potential in his ambiguous, but ultimately… I dunno, good (?) character traits.  Anyhoo… he comes bearing a gift… a signed first-edition copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  The O’Dares are shocked by the extravagance… but Shade brushes it off, claiming that Dickens had given him more than one copy.  If you’re interested, a quick Google search will find you a signed first-edition for the measly sum of $35,000.

We return to Jack and Santa as Jack is in the midst of battle with Tolk and his monstrous partner “Crab Hand”, who has a… well, crab-hand.  They are in a pawn broker’s shop where they had initially intended to hock the locket, but instead decided to hold the place up.  Santa is attending to the fallen pawn broker.

Jack makes short work of the baddies, and we find out that the broker wasn’t shot… but appears to have had a heart attack.  Not knowing CPR, Jack is pretty helpless here.  Thankfully, Santa is a Korean War vet, and is able to keep the fella alive until they can drop him off at the hospital.  As they leave, we see that Jack and Santa have retrieved the missing locket.

Santa thanks Jack… though Jack makes it clear he wishes he could do more.  He’d already given all of his money to the homeless tonight.  Santa assures Jack that he wouldn’t accept any money from him… for what he’d done for him tonight is something he couldn’t put a dollar value on.  Santa introduces himself as Pete… and the pair part company.

Back at the O’Dare’s, the folks are wondering just what might be keeping Jack.  They assume it’s some super-hero type stuff… and I guess they’re kinda right.  Just then there’s a knock at the door… it’s Jack… and Pete!

The O’Dares are quick to accept Pete as part of the family for this night… and assure him as much when his emotions get the better of him.  No Pete, tonight is not the night for tears… it’s for smiles, laughter… friends and family.

Dang… gets me every time.  I’m glad I saved this one for Christmas Day.

It’s been a long time (too long) since I’ve read through Starman.  It’s definitely one of those “candy” books to me… I just fly through them.  Really ought to try to revisit this series soon.

This was a wonderful time… enjoyed every single page of it.  It is a story of charity, family, and taking the time to care for one’s fellow man.  I really enjoyed the juxtaposition between Jack’s tough talk and his charitable spirit.  He was on a simple quest of locket retrieval… and yet, he took the time to empty his own wallet to give to those less fortunate.

Santa/Pete… a man who lost everything he held dear, still knows the value of human life, and does what is needed of him in order to save the pawn broker.  There really was no reason for him to do so… outside of just doing the right thing.  This wasn’t just Jack’s story here… this was pretty much a Starman/Santa Claus team-up!

The O’Dare family bits were great!  I always love these kind of asides… especially with the backdrop of the Holidays.  It’s so often we get caught up in the bustle… it’s great to see the family pump the brakes a bit, and decompress in the glow of Christmas decorations and the warmth of family (and the oven!).

I don’t think I’ve hid the fact that I’m a bit of a soft touch when reading certain comics.  It’s not something I take any pride or embarrassment in… it’s just a thing that is.  I gotta say, I was a bit trepidacious going into this one… didn’t wanna blubber or nothin’.  I was fine until Mr. O’Dare tells Pete “No tears.  Not tonight.”  Damn tickle in the back of my throat… almost made it!

Definitely a book and series I’d recommend to… well, anyone.  Comics fan or otherwise.  Just a magical series that hits all the right spots, and can getcha in all “the feels”.  Starman truly sits in rarefied air… there really isn’t anything else like it… least not anything I’ve come across.  This series has been collected several times over, including a series of very attractive omnibuses… which, may or may not have been completed.  This bugger is also available digitally at DC Digital.  This book definitely deserves a spot in your comics library.

Well, this has been our twelve thirteen Days of Christmas on Infinite Earths.  I hope folks enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed sharing.  I had a great time, though I gotta say I’m looking forward to things going back to normal.  I’m sure glad I didn’t try and do a “25 Days of…” special!  Anyhoo… thanks (as always) for reading, Merry Christmas to you and yours… from me and mine!  Now I’m off for a long Winter’s nap… until tomorrow.

Letters Page:

Interesting Ads:

Yup… 1997

Played the hell out of this on that PlayStation demo disc that came with my original PS1

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…

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