Action Comics Weekly #622 (Starman)
Writer – Roger Stern
Pencils – Tom Lyle
Inks – Robert Campanella
Letters – Agustin Mas
Colors – Daniel Vozzo
Editor – Robert Greenberger
Welcome to the first (and last) Starman feature! Now this is, of course, the Will Payton version of the character… with the “Peanut Butter and Jelly” costume I’ve always dug. I’m not up on current Justice League comics, but I hear tell this fella might be back? The books are in “the stack”, hopefully I’ll get around to ’em eventually!
Anyhoo, according to Mike’s Amazing World, this little ACW feature hit stands the same day (August 30, 1988) that Starman #3 (December, 1988) came out… so, this isn’t so much the introduction of the character, but likely served as an introduction for many.
Not for us though… we’ve already discussed his first two issues here at the humble blog! Click’em the covers, and you shall be delivered:
That oughta get us up to speed on ol’ Will… and now, let’s see where he goes from there!
We open with a shot of a television screen. On it is the program Phoenix Today, hosted by… uh, some dude. His guest is Vincent Garvey, the author of a new book called We Don’t Need the Super-Hero. You might be able to guess what he’s there to talk about. This program is being played on a display television set at a Radio Shack-alike, and is being watched by Jayne Payton at a mall… and she ain’t at all happy.
She is soon joined by her brother Will, who is happily licking an ice cream cone. This tells me that the mall is indoors, because an ice cream cone isn’t long for the world when eaten outdoors in Phoenix. Anyhoo, she points to the screen where Garvey is running down superheroes as being deviants and what-not… and he kinda lets it roll off his shoulder. Just then, one of the Radio Shack’s police scanners kicks on, alerting him to a hub-bub down at the old Van Buren Center. Will rushes off to investigate (and if you’re familiar with much of Phoenix’s “Van Buren” area, probably to get some booster shots).
Over the next few pages, Will is fighting a geek wearing some S.T.A.R. Labs armor. These panels run alongside more of Garvey’s thoughts on the “fascistic” nature of superheroes. This tells me that Garvey’s understanding of the word “fascist” is right up there with most of the internet’s!
The battle rages, and Starman flies right into the baddie… causing a raucous “TOOM”. This outburst causes a nearby old man to have a heart attack. Lucky for him, Jayne arrives on the scene just in the nick of time to administer CPR.
The story ends with Will turning the armored guy over to the police, and Jayne saving the life of the old man. See… not all heroes wear capes… which, uh… might not be all that relevant here, since Starman doesn’t wear one anyway.
So, not a bad little introduction to the Will Payton Starman. I nice little adventure, where we meet him and his sister… and kind of get a feel for the tone of the series. It’s really not much more than that… though, I don’t think it was meant to be.
As for the underlying… I dunno, “antagonistic” presence? The “superhero critic” is a trope that… kinda feels “played out”. Even in ye old 1988, this is pretty tired. I mean, we’re just two years removed from Legends where G. Gordon Godfrey was doing the talk show circuit. I guess if it worked once, it’ll work every time. That’s comic book law, right? Find something that works… then milk that sucker dry!
Not all that much more to say about this one. The story was neat, and the parallels between Will and Jayne’s heroic acts were well taken. The art was solid. Tom Lyle isn’t a fella we get to discuss here all that often, but I really enjoy what he brings to the table.
Overall, if you’re a Will Payton Starman completionist, you’re going to want this. Not sure if they’ve ever started collecting that volume… but, I would imagine if they do, this little snippet would probably be a part of it!
Tomorrow: More Roger Stern!