Super Mates 55: Starman Chronicles Part 5

The adventures of Jack Knight continue in Starman #17-19. Another trip to Opal City brings an epilogue to the epic “Sins of the Child” storyline, a “Times Past” story starring the original Astral Avenger, and a “Talking with David” issue! Plus, the Shade teams with Dr. Fate in Showcase ’96 # 4 & 5!



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Clip credits:

“Wedding March” from Flash Gordon by Queen

Selected tracks from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Dracula (1979) soundtracks by John Williams

Selected tracks from The Princess Bride soundtrack by Mark Knopfler

“Supernatural Radio” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

“Drink Up, Me Hearties” from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic

“Help Me Through the Night” by The Eagles

9 responses to “Super Mates 55: Starman Chronicles Part 5

  1. These issues are so good. Listening to your coverage takes me back to the vibrant discussions had on the DC Starman Message Board. We were all over the Showcase issues when they came out, plus we had a running list of mysteries that were yet to be addressed with Culp being right at the top.

    You guys are tough on the artists though. I really enjoyed John Watkiss’ and Matt Smith’s work.

    Has anyone lent you the earlier Showcase 95 issue 12? James tells a story during Underworld Unleashed with Neron trying to tempt The Shade. The short story ends with Neron swearing future vengeance which is paid off waaaay down the line in Grand Guignal. Also a rare instance of pencils and inks by Wade Von Grawbadger (Grawbadger).

    1. I didn’t know about that Showcase ’95 story! We’ll have to track that down and sneak it in somewhere. I remember the Shade referencing Neron later, but again I assumed it was just something we never saw in print. I’m slowly learning most of these references WERE in print!

      I’m more of an old school traditionalist when it comes to comic art. Harris’ work is about as “Vertigo-y” as I like. But that’s just me.


  2. I loved seeing john Valor in that coda issue, especially since Tony Harris was copying Howard Pyle’s classic illustrations. I also saw that “Whatever happened to?” story, though my intro to the character was the JLA/JSA crossover (#159-160), with the historical characters, plucked from their eras by the Lord of Time (Miss Liberty, Viking Prince, Enemy Ace, Jonah Hex, and Black Pirate). He was essentially a knock-off of Douglas Fairbanks, in the 40s, and was even drawn looking like Fairbanks. It took us a while to finally get to the heart of Valor’s story, which was always one of the frustrating elements of Starman. You really had to be patient.

    I wonder if Jack being a bit of a jerk is a bit autobiographical? Robinson has been up front with the fact that he hasn’t exactly mastered getting along with people. Jack certainly shares Robinson’s pop culture obsessions.

    I really enjoyed the times past story (I loved all of these tales). Robinson establishes Ted as a detective, something that even Batman had lost. DC used to be the place for mystery lovers, with puzzles and mysteries in many comics. Post-Crisis, that became less and less true, as psychology and battles became more important. Watkins art was fine, though he is better suited to stuff like Sandman, where his moody stylings create atmosphere. It works well enough here, since he is a good storyteller. However, I tended to prefer someone like Gene Ha when it came to Ted’s past adventures. It fit more with that Jack Burnley style. This story also helps set up the future, when Jack gets to meet his heroes, Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont.

    When I saw the name Culp, my jaw also dropped. What was the guy from I-Spy and the Greatest American Hero doing here? 🙂

    Finally, Talking with David. These stories and the Times Past stories are what cemented the series for me. I was kind of on the fence a bit, when the series began. I was pretty burnt out on superheroes and Jack wasn’t the most likable guy. There were things I liked and things I didn’t. However, the first Talking with David and Times Past stories told me this was definitely a series to read. This one is by far my favorite. The ending is just so beautiful and Robinson and Harris set up the moment so perfectly, and the emotions on display are honest. I tear up every time I read it. We mostly got impressions of Jack’s mother throughout the series, and that one image carries all of those snippets, in just a pose.

    All of these tales serve to set up the future, something Robinson did very well. That was one of the things that hooked me. Those teases were all so intriguing I wanted to see what was going to happen.

    1. I didn’t get to read that JLA/JSA crossover in full until the Crisis on Multiple Earths tpb that collected it. Black Pirate’s awesome Who’s Who page by Jerry Ordway definitely has a Douglas Fairbanks-like portrait. I should have mentioned he was created by Sheldon Moldoff, who has LOTS of credits at DC, including long runs on Hawkman and especially Batman (as Bob Kane, of course). I’ll be sure to bring all this up the next time Jon Valor appears…and he will!

      Was it Robert Culp, or his son that played Doom in that aborted Corman FF film? Sadly, he’s the best Doctor Doom we’ve seen yet!

      I think elements like all of the foreshadowing and the special issues like Times Past and Talking with David are really what cemented the series for me also. Starman was a very special series, different from anything DC was publishing then…or now, or ever, really!


      1. That was his son, Joseph, in the Corman Fantastic Four. He was actually pretty good, though the armor looked like plastic and the cloak looked like it came off of a pool table. 🙂

        I would love to see Tony Harris do a full on Black Pirate comic; maybe not a series, but a nice mini. Unfortunately, you don’t get many pirate comics in America, anymore. I have to get French pirate comics (Long John Silver, Barracuda), from an English publisher (Cinebook). I still wish someone would reprint the French comic Barbe Rouge in English (noted French comic from Pilote, from the late 50s and 60s).

        It was funny, Starman sounded like a superhero comic when it was first marketed; but, it read like a Vertigo title. That’s part of what threw me, at first. It kind of straddled both sensibilities, which is probably why it was more of a cult favorite than a huge hit. I’m just glad DC kept faith with it until the end, as I suspected it wasn’t the biggest seller out there, based on what I saw in my own local shop. It usually seemed to be me and maybe two other people. I think we were also the only ones getting Leave It To Chance.

        1. Yeah, Starman is definitely the bridge between DC and Vertigo, especially as Vertigo slowly severed most ties to the DCU proper. I worked at a comic shop from 96-98 in my college town, and preached the gospel of Starman. I did get my boss to start reading it, so he was behind my push for it. We made sure to put a “READ THIS!” sign under each issue. I’m not sure it ever worked. DC really did seem proud of it, and continued to promote it. I admire the Powers-That-Were for that, since it probably wasn’t a blockbuster seller by any means, as you say.


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