Monday, August 29, 2011

The EPIC that is James Robinson's Starman & the eve of DCnU!

The past few months, when I wasn't keeping up with reading new comics and graphic novels that arrive every week, I've been revisiting James Robinson's Starman, which spanned 80 issues, numerous annuals, specials, and mini series (so Starman was really a 100 issue comic series), that DC Comics has collected in six massive hardcover omnibuses.

Well, I've been meaning to write this entry for a few weeks now, but alas it just hasn't happened. I thought that I HAD to write this entry here on the eve of DC Comics as this week sees the debut of their first new title (Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee). What do thoughts upon finishing reading Robinson's Starman have to do with DCnU (that's what the kids are calling the DC relaunch - gin)? Well dear Ich Liebe Comics! readers, read on...!

James Robinson's Starman is his magnum opus comic book saga that is definitely on par with Alan Moore's epic Swamp Thing and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. There hae been many incarnations of the Starman character at DC Comics since the 1940s and what Robinson does with his Starman (Jack Knight, the son of the original Starman, Ted Knight) is tap into DC's huge, rich catalog of characters, incorporating all of the previous Starmans into a story that is equally enjoyable to people who were familiar with earlier Starmans and people that haven't read any of the previous Starmans. James Robinson's Starman isn't just a superhero slugfest book, as Robinson wrote all kinds of stories within his Starman (crime fiction, space opera, super heroes, etc.) with characters that had actual progressions (such as characters having babies, getting older, and even dieing). Starman is often called the best example of DC's legacy characters, meaning those characters such as Flash and Blue Beetle who have had different characters wearing said character's costumes, a passing of the torch as it were.

So Ralph, what does a book like yesteryears Starman have to do with DCnU, which looks like it's not going to acknowledge DC's rich history? It has been said by DC that with them relaunching all of their superhero titles with a new number one issue, their characters are going to be younger, not having been on the scene much longer then five years. Basically what DC is doing is trying to get back lapsed readers and create a better jumping on point for new people to follow their characters. They've said that all of previous continuity isn't being erased, they're just going to pick and choose what is still a part of the new DC. I knew that DC wouldn't wait too long to bring back some of their older characters such as the Justice Society of America and concepts such as Earth 2 and just this past weekend at a convention up in Canada they announced that James Robinson and Nicola Scott would be doing a new JSA title. No details have been revealed yet as to when this will be released or how this will tie in to the new DC universe, but I think this will be part of the excitement of DCnU as we see how they re-intergrate their legacy characters with the new interpretations of the other DC characters. At the end of the day, any comic company that has fifty plus years of history, with characters that don't really age, is going to have to do something similar to what DC is doing and I do believe with some of the creative talent they have in place, there'll be more hits than misses. I also liken what DC is doing to when DC, back in the 1950s re-imagined their characters (a period called the Silver Age) and although I'm sure there were people back then that liked the previous versions, the Silver Age versions of the DC characters is fondly remembered and DC has a chance to reintroduce their characters to a whole new generation (or recharge some of the characters by getting to the core of what made those characters exciting in the first place).

Here's a great quote by Douglas Wolk from this week's Time Magazine book review of The Arcades Project that definitely applies to Starman and DCnU:

"Old art, whether magnificent or wretched, is always the raw material of new art. The artist's job, though, is to build on it or transform it, not just to offer up comforting familiarity as a talisman against the void."

And as I've said in an earlier Ich Liebe Comics! entry while I was in the middle of Starman, even if Robinson's Starman doesn't become part of DCnU, this doesn't diminish those stories and one can just dig out their Starman individual comics or Starman collections and they'll still be EPIC! And we have James Robinson getting ready to release his Shade (a great villainous character from Starman) maxi series which will have different issues done by a stellar line up of artists such as Darwyne Cooke and Jill Thompson!

So if you haven't already read James Robinson's Starman, they're collected in six massive 400 plus page omnibuses, which Alternate Reality Comics has on sale ALL the time for 25% off cover price - because I really think everyone would love these books, whether you're a fan of the super hero genre or not!

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