Starman (vol.2) #1 (November, 1994)
“Sins of the Father, Part Two: Oil (Paint) and Water”
Writer – James Robinson
Pencils – Tony Harris
Inks – Wade Von Grawbadger
Letters – John Workman
Colors – Gregory Wright
Assistant Editor – Chuck Kim
Associate Editor – Jim Spivey
Editor – Archie Goodwin
Cover Price: $1.95
I sit here today… one aching unit. Thanksgiving turned out to be a fourteen hour sprint… and, who am I kidding, I loved every minute of it. It was a wonderful day at the palatial Christate… and I hope you and yours had a great one too!
Speaking of great… today we’re going to take a look at Starman (vol.2) #1… and the first thing that pops into my head is “Man, how ticked off would I be if I bought this not knowing there was an issue zero?”
Well, let’s find out…
We open with a shadowy (shadowy) gentleman writing in his shadowy (shadowy) journal. He waxes poetic about Opal City and conducts himself in a fancy manner. As this is going down, news reports are lit up about a rash of crimes happening all over the City. Smaller crimes… to distract from the bigger ones… which distract from the even bigger ones. It looks like Opal might be just about to bloom into a full-blown riot situation.
Meanwhile, Jack Knight is visiting his father in the hospital. They have a pretty contentious discussion… which isn’t entirely without precedent. Jack clues his Pop in that he just had a bullet removed from his leg… a claim that is backed up by a trio of carrot-topped officers… the O’Dares.
The Knight men keep talking… and arguing about, well… a lot of things. Tonight’s events have dredged up a whole lot of bitterness between the two. Jack mocking his brother for taking the mantle of Starman… how the “junk dealer” survived, when the hero did not. Hell, even new business like losing Pemberton’s Cosmic Belt. He tells Jack that the “Cosmic Rod” he holds isn’t even the real deal, only a “Gravity Rod”… complete with 1940’s era technology, which… ya know, kinda fits Jack’s style.
Jack heads outside the hospital room, and runs into yet another O’Dare… Hope. She tries cheering Jack up… by posing like she’s in an ad for blue jeans, and attempting to instill within him how important family is. Well, it’s the thought that counts.
She begins to tell a story… and in a really neat bit, Jack flat out tells her he doesn’t want to hear it. I feel like that sort of thing doesn’t happen enough in comics. Characters are usually more than happy to let a perfect stranger drone on, so long as it provides a bit of exposition. As neat as it was, though, Hope tells the story anyway. Ya see, back in the 1940’s, Starman (Jack’s dad) saved the Elder O’Dares’ life while he was on patrol. Ever since, the O’Dares have sworn to help Starman/Starmen, no matter what.
Suddenly, Ted Knight receives a call… a very threatening one, and one that informs him that both of his sons are dead. Of course, we know better. Also… outside the hospital, it looks like the entire City is on fire!
The caller tells Ted that he’s going to take everything away from him. His sons… his home… his science… the safety of his City… and next, the memory of his dead wife. It’s clear that Ted recognizes the caller…
Jack asks who it was… and, duh… it was The Mist. Ted insists that Jack get outta dodge. Since The Mist thinks both Knight boys are dead, it would be best for his unheroic son to git while the gittin’ is good. He also doesn’t seem all that worried about The Mist’s latest threat, after all… his wife was cremated. No body to desecrate. Jack hesitates, but finally leaves.
We rejoin Jack at the bus station. Over the news, it’s reported that the Opal County Museum has just been attacked… more specifically, the Adele Knight wing. Did ol’ Ted really not see this coming? C’mon pal, I know you’ve had a night, but still.
Turns out, this was the last bit of prodding Jack needed to enter the fray. He lights up the gravity rod, and flies into action.
He arrives atop the museum (or at least a building near the museum) and proceeds to pounce on a masked goon. Onlookers are shocked, and celebrate the fact that the rumors of Starman’s demise appear to have been exaggerated. Our shadowy (shadowy) friend, however, knows better.
Jack continues kicking butt, until Kyle Mist shows up. If you recall, he’s the one who blew up Jack’s Junk Shop last issue. Jack flees, but winds up in the drink. Seems a little bit odd, but I suppose we’ll allow it. Kyle and his goons give a half-hearted chase, but decide not to dredge the waters to find him.
Inside, even more goons proceed to loot the place, stealing artwork and whatnot. Our shadowy (shadowy) friend is there looking on, before deciding to reveal himself as being… The Shade. He manifests a beast which eats some of the baddies, all the while reveling in his own purple prose. This is definitely not a dude I’d wanna be stuck in an elevator with.
We wrap up with Jack (at least I think it’s Jack… I don’t think they’ve settled on an actual model for him yet) pulling himself out of the water… and coming to the decision that he will not leave Opal City.
I sometimes stop to think about “bubbles” in fandom. Or really, in all walks of life. Could be career/trade-specific jargon, could be “inside-baseball”… there’s just certain bits of verbiage that you’ve gotta be “inside” to fully appreciate… or, heck, understand at all. As a pro-wrestling fan, I cringe at what the uninitiated must think a “Triple H” is.
What I’m talking about here is… this is the first issue of a new ongoing series, correct? Does it seem like a new-reader friendly outing to you? Now, this is not an indictment on the quality of the story contents… this is more an observation as just how backwards the comics industry can be. Catering to “the bubble”… the already-fans who knew issue #0’s could (and would) be “a thing”.
Actually, take new-readers (of the day) out of it altogether. Imagine being comics-curious today, and happening across this issue in the bins. You might’ve heard good things about this Starman series (because, really… who hasn’t?), and you snap it up… take it home… annnnnnnd, you’re completely lost! That shouldn’t be the case, especially not when you’re holding a book with a “#1” atop it.
I could segue into kvetching about how many inaccessible #1’s we’ve gotten in the past decade… but, I’d probably only rile myself up… and devolve into writing in all-caps with no vowels or something.
Onto the issue itself. It was another good one… Robinson is definitely just as interested in building the world of Opal City as he is in developing Jack Knight’s character… it’s a wonderful marriage of concepts, and really scratches me where I itch. I’ve given lackluster stories a pass because of how ambitious the world building behind it was… so, having this be so good on top of all that? It makes for a really good time… and a great read.
Tony Harris… wasn’t really my jam back in the long ago, however, I really couldn’t think of a better artist for this series. The character models are kind of all over the place at this early point, but the “mood” of Opal City cannot be denied. This is a great tandem, Robinson and Harris.
Overall… I mean, what can I say? This is a book any fans of DC Comics should go out of their way to check out. Just remember to start with #0! This issue is available digitally.
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