Starman vols 1-6

I think I might have mentioned how I’ve been doing a read-through of James Robinson’s Starman series, so forgive me if this is a bit of a repeat, but I’m so backlogged on reviews and have been trying to sort through so much that it seems to be a blur of “Did I do this? Maybe? No?”

This seems like a good point at which to check in anyway. I have all 10 of the original trade paperbacks and I am going to be reading them in order (which I don’t think makes this a “completist” run because I don’t own the Shade miniseries, but I’m just going to go with what I have), and it’s volume 6: To Reach the Stars that makes for a good stopping point. At the end of that story, Jack Knight takes off for space, which is where the next two volumes will take place (with 9 and 10 being a return home, a climactic battle, and an epilogue).

Now, I read all of these 20 years ago when a friend of mine loaned them to me. I remember them fondly, so when I found a bunch of them in a discount trade bin a couple of years ago, I snatched them up and then started seeking out the others, which I grabbed from discount trade racks and conventions. Only one–the final volume–I had to get off of eBay, and even then I paid fewer than $10. So this reread is a “Does it still hold up and was it worth tracking all of these down” investigation.

So far, this is very good. Robinson has an appreciation for the history that comes with the character, and does a great job of integrating obscurities from around the DCU and its history. Yes, I’m sure that he is retconning a fair amount, but it seems a little more natural and a little less fanfic than, say, the way Geoff Johns does it with his Teen Titans run (another run that I’ll be getting into at some point down the line). He also seems to be providing some meta commentary via creating a character who begins as one of the most reluctant superheroes ever to put on a costume (as opposed to his brother, who was so happy to be Starman and wound up paying the ultimate price for it) and could very much be the “superhero for people who don’t like superheroes.” But unlike Johns’ Superboy Prime (yeah … that’s a whole conversation isn’t it) and Grant Morrison’s various weirdnesses, Robinson seems to bring those “I don’t like superheroes” readers closer and closer to actually liking superheroes. He actually tells conventional stories, with arch enemies, villains out for revenge, and even magical/supernatural threats and doesn’t get pretentious.

And it’s got that potential. The series has a specific look thanks to Tony Harris’ artwork, which eschews the Extreme Nineties aesthetic for an art deco style that is very close to what we were seeing in Batman: The Animated Series and therefore feels classic while also feeling contemporary. This makes Starman a piece that at some points is of its time but timeless as opposed to, say, Extreme Justice, which came out around the same time. And that could make a lot of readers feel a lot better about themselves if they wanted to. Thankfully, I don’t think Robinson indulges that too much.

I’ll hold off on whether or not I want to keep all of the trades when I’m done, but I’ll say that for now I’m enjoying it and am looking forward to the remaining books.

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