Starman (vol.2) #0 (October, 1994)
“Sins of the Father, Part One: Falling Star, Rising Son”
Writer – James Robinson
Pencils – Tony Harris
Inks – Wayne Von Grawbadger
Letters – John E. Workman
Colors – Gregory Wright
Associate Editor – Jim Spivey
Editor – Archie Goodwin
Cover Price: $1.95
There’s that odd mix of pumpkin and meat in the air… March of the Wooden Soldiers is on the tv… and my back and feet already ache. Why, that’s gotta make today Thanksgiving, doesn’t it?
Happiest of Thanksgivings to everyone… hope you all have a wonderful day (whether you celebrate or not).
Some friendly advice from your bloggy brother, there are two things you never discuss around the family dinner table… variant covers and decompressed storytelling. Family is forever, remember not to turn on each other over the small stuff!
We open with a (somewhat syrupy) introduction to Opal City… which I’m sure I slurped up with a straw the first time I read this as a teen-agery type person. It’s also here we meet… Starman, David Knight. He looks down upon Opal, and smiles with the knowledge that he is the only Starman. Will Payton is dead… and he assumes Mikaal Tomas is too. Dave triumphantly goes to fly…
… he does not make it far.
This takes us into flashback land. It’s earlier that night, and David is arguing with his brother Jack about some “old stuff” Jack’s trying to buy from him. Their father, Ted Knight (the Golden-Age Starman) stands by, and doesn’t seem terribly enthralled by the conversation. The discussion shifts to David inheriting the mantle, to which Jack is all “I didn’t want it anyway… oh, and also… you look stupid.” This comment seems to have burrowed under Ted’s skin, and so, he gives him the boot… til Sunday dinner, of course.
From here, we follow Jack as he goes about his business. He picks up a package from a dry cleaner, chats up a tattoo artist, and grabs some goods from a barber shop. It’s revealed here that Jack’s kind of an old soul… really stuck on “old things”, so much so that he runs an old junk shop. He enters, and thinks to himself how much he loves the smell of “old things”… I feel like we comics enthusiasts can second that emotion.
Time passes, and Jack receives a phone call from his father… and learns that his brother David was killed. Ted warns his son to keep vigilant, just in case this was a sort of personal vendetta. He continues, saying that there is a Cosmic Rod, and also a Cosmic Belt (that used to belong to Sylvester Pemberton) among some documents he’d given to Jack for review. Jack argues that he doesn’t want to use ’em…
Ted hangs up and heads out to the morgue to identify his son’s body. No sooner does he leave, than his observatory explodes! During the blast, Ted is struck by a brick.
Back at Jack’s Junk Shop, a strange man enters… and inquires about some precious stones. Jack doesn’t have many, but can refer him to a dealer who might. He then asks about weapons… which triggers our fight scene.
The man starts blasting the hell out of the place. It looks like this particular pistol shoots both bullets… and fire? Okay. Anyhoo, as Jack attempts to flee to the back room (where that Cosmic Rod is supposed to be), he winds up taking a bullet in the back of the leg.
The strange man follows… and decides to keep the Cosmic Belt for himself. What’s more… he recognizes it!
He then takes aim, and goes for the killing shot(s) on Jack. Fortunately, in the time it took for this weirdo to admire the Cosmic Belt, Jack was able to back-flip into the flames and procure the Rod.
The stranger decides to just go all-in… figuring there’s no way Jack would survive the fire anyway… he drops a grenade in the shop.
Jack manages to get out just in the nick of time.
We shift scenes over to a brother and sister… they are Kyle (the weirdo from the store) and Nash, a young woman with a stutter. It’s made plainly clear that these two are responsible for wrecking all’a the havoc on the Knight family this evening…
… and they are doing so on behalf of their father… (the Golden-Age villain) the Mist! They’re sure both Knight boys are dead… but have not killed ol’ Ted.
We wrap up with Jack trying to get his bearings. We can tell he’s thrown for a loop, since he refers to his brother here as “Danny” instead of David. That’s gotta be worth a “No-Prize”, right?
We’ve talked a time or two before about series’ that… while they hold a special place in our hearts, they’re somewhat difficult to return to. My mind immediately goes to something like Peter David’s Young Justice when I think of that. Starman (vol.2) might be another.
I missed out on this the first time around, and so, when they started releasing trade paperback collections, I scooped ’em up, devoured ’em, and loved ’em! These were the sorta lousy “incomplete” trades before they added all of the niceties we have these days. I’ve tried time and again to return to them over the years, and for whatever reason, just can’t get as into it. I usually only make it through the first trade, before putting Jack and Company back on the shelf.
That said, I had a really good time with this issue. Sure, it’s a bit “purple” in places, though… I’m pretty sure that’s due to who our narrator will eventually be revealed to be, so it makes sense. If that’s not the case, and I’m remembering wrong… woof, this is a li’l bit o’ preciousness in the narration here.
Let’s talk about Jack. He’s not entirely likable here, though it’s somewhat easy to see his position. He’s part of a family with an established “business”, which he is reluctant to join. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but done incredibly well. Jack’s got his passions, and superheroics/superheroing are not among them.
As a person who is perhaps a bit too nostalgic for his own good (including things I wasn’t even around for), I can identify with Jack… as, I’m sure, can many comics enthusiasts. He mentions the “smell” old things have… and, c’mon… what’s more intoxicating than the smell of decomposing newsprint? If I could bottle it, I would. There’s a certain magic to it… so much history, so much passion… it’s really one of the best things ever.
I’ve often thought about when nostalgia became capital… we see Jack’s Junk Store, and realize that people do make their livings helping people relive their past… or at least reclaim old treasures. I’ve solicited opinions on the subject from a bunch of people (and did a fair amount of reading as well), and one of the more popular points of view is that nostalgia became “a thing” around the time oldies stations popped up on the radio.
Never before were entire generations able to imbibe in the sweet taste of yesteryear with such ease. I think there might be something to that. I started this portion of the discussion be admitting to having difficulty revisiting books of either a certain vintage… or ones I discovered at a certain age. I cited Young Justice and this book… which, I’m almost positive I discovered around the same time. Nostalgia (good and bad) is a funny thing… can really skew your perceptions, and alter your point of view.
With the rise of digital everything… I shudder at the thought of the potential age of arrested development we might be on the cusp of entering! Why move forward when everything in the rear view was so much fun?
Okay, now I’m just babbling… when I ought to be basting (the turkey, that is). I’ll just leave it there. This is a wonderful title that I’d recommend anyone and everyone pick up. I think I’m going to try and revisit a few more of these in the coming days… see how rose-colored my glasses might become! This series has been collected eight ways to Sunday (hell, it’ll probably get a ridiculous and unnecessary DC Black Label branding soon enough… if it hasn’t already), and is available digitally (for a buck!).
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