Monday, July 11, 2011

Starman: James Robinson

The past couple of months, when I'm not trying to keep up on reading new comics and graphic novels, I've been re-reading one of the BEST superhero comics ever, James Robinson's Starman, which are now collected in six hardcover omnibuses. Starman ran for 81 issues from 1994 until 2001, but also had many special issues, including annuals and mini-series, so Robinson's Starman really ran for about 100 issues.

Starman is one of DC's legacy characters, meaning there's been different versions of this character throughout their companies history and James Robbinson wrote his Starman incorporating the other Starmans as well as the rich history the DC universe has. A person doesn't have to have read any other DC superhero comics to enjoy Robinson's Starman as he thoroughly explores the characters legacy in addition to writing fantastic stories about Jack Knight (his Starman) and his rich supporting cast.

Each volume of the Starman omnibuses have an afterward by James Robinson in which he talks about every issue as well as recounting some personal things he and his artists were going through while they were working on this landmark series. As Robinson relates in one of his afterwards, his Starman is his ode to the great superhero characters in DC's stable as well as being his forum for telling just plain great stories that transcend the slugfest aspects of this genre.

Starman should be sitting on book shelves everywhere right next to Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Seriously, no amount of hype can do justice to what an incredible series James Robinson's Starman is. I read this comic when it came out monthly and have long been meaning to revisit it. I thought it was great then and was one of my favorites, but I didn't remember it being THIS good. Actually, like many long series that have a lot of characters, are telling different kinds of stories within the series, and is highly personal as Starman is, I think reading them in collected form (or digging out all of the individual issues) is the way to go to fully appreciate the scope of what's being done. James Robinson's Starman takes a long time to read (I just finished the fourth of the six omnibuses), but it's in no way a chore to read, rather Robinson just goes into so much depth with every facet of the main character, the supporting characters, and Opal City (which is a BIG part of this series). There are so many seemingly small moments and details in Robinson's Starman, and it is a delight to see how he brings EVERYTHING together.

James Robinson's Starman wouldn't be a tenth of what it is / was if it were not for the huge creative vision and artistic talent of artist Tony Harris, who did most of the first forty five issues. While Tony Harris "just" did half of the art of the whole run of Starman, his style so clearly defined the series that people often forget that many great artists contributed to this series, such as Peter Snejbjerg, Gene Ha, JH Williams III, Steve Yowell, Gary Erskine, Mike Mignola, and many others.

I hope to finish the last two volumes of the Starman Omnibuses in the next two weeks, so I'll have more thoughts when I get done with them. They are pricey at $49.99, but that's because each volume contains over 400 pages (and they're really nice productions). Starting today until these books go out of print (which is hopefully never), here at Alternate Reality Comics, I'm going to have each volume on sale always at 25% off the cover price so that more people can afford the benchmark of great story-telling (and art) that is Starman!

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