Super Mates Episode 49: The Starman Chronicles, Part 4

The Mist returns to wreak havoc on Opal City! Chris and Cindy take a look at the second major Starman story arc, Sins of the Child by James Robinson, Tony Harris and friends, from Starman issues 12-16.

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Clip credits:

“Wedding March” from Flash Gordon by Queen

“Glorious Day” and “Only in Dreams” by Weezer

“Ghost in the Machine at the Stroke of Midnight” by Shirley Walker (Flash TV Series)

“You Belong to the City” by Glenn Frey

“Superman Ties it Up/J’onzz Bonds” and “Island Revealed/Superman Down” by Kevin Manthei from Justice League: The New Frontier

“The Day Time Ended” by Richard Band, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Next Time: Episode 50!

8 responses to “Super Mates Episode 49: The Starman Chronicles, Part 4

  1. Love this storyline. I was a fan of the book from issue 0 and loved how it was developing. The Times Past stories and Talking with David were really tripping my reader switches; but, this storyline turned the book into a classic, for me. It raised the stakes, put Jack through an ordeal that would move him firmly into the role of superhero; and, set the stage for the future. You couldn’t wait for Nash and Jack to meet again, because you knew it was going to be epic.

    This has so much: Jack deals with the legal consequences of taking a life (extremely rare), we meet more of the O’Dares and learn why they are special, we see more of Mikaal and his power, we get some Grundy, and we see what made Ted a hero and how he was different from the rest of the JSA. Then, there is the ending, which was so different from everything out there, especially in the Image-driven 90s. No epic fistfight, no blasting of weapons; just two people talking, one telling her opponent it isn’t the right time, the other trying to get her to realize they don’t have to do this and be bound by the past. It’s a battle of outlooks, not fists; ideas, not weapons.

    Dr Phosphorus-Wasn’t that great in his debut; but, his appearance set in motion the awesome Steve Engelhart run on Detective Comics. Walt did n’t follow along; but, Marshall Rogers did and created one of the seminal Batman visual feasts. That run was the major inspiration for the basic plot of the first Tim Burton Batman (the film was in development for almost 10 years). He was the perfect vilain to demonstrate Ted’s scientific heroism. By the way, love the various Starman specialty costumes. Only the best superheores have planned for the various environments in which they may have to work.

    Love the O’Dares and would have enjoyed seeing them get a spin-off mini-series, by Robinson, much the way The Shade did.

    Robinson really had a flare for creating interesting characters, even for just a page or two. He finds the human qualities in them and brings them out in the narrative and Harris is able to capture it visually, with expression, body language, and other subtleties.

    In regards to the Sondheim discussion; this is Robinson in Tarantino mode. He had a tendency to do this in his work of the era (Brian Michael Bendis, too, especially in his indie work, like AKA Goldfish). His Firearm, from the Ultraverse line, at Malibu Comics, was filled with discussion of books. Starman is filled with discussion of classic films, novels; and, especially, collectibles. Robinson filled his pages with his own obsessions. Often it was interesting; sometimes it was self-indulgent. In fact, Greg Hyland, on an inside cover of his Lethargic Lad series, poked a bit of fun at Robinson and his collectible obsessions (a bit maliciously, too).

    This storyline, and the preceding issue, with the story of the Ragdoll, had me really looking forward to the future of Starman. A lot changed along the way. Harris and Robinson had a falling out and Archie Goodwin’s death seemed to take a lot of wind out of Robinson’s sails, like his personal grief affected his writing or just the loss of Archie’s guidance left Robinson spinning in different directions. When Jack and Mist did meet again (which took more than 11 months; at least, to meet in person), it seemed far less than Robinson teased. Grand Guignol was a very mixed climax of the series, for me, and that was a big chunk. Luckily, Robinson stuck to his guns for the epilogue and delivered another classic. Still, with Starman, even when Robinson (seemingly) stumbled, it was worth reading and lightyears ahead of what was happening in most other superhero comics.

    I will say that Nash isn’t quite the liar she claims to be. She does not just kill Jack. She didn’t make him go through everything just to shoot him, unarmed. I think, subconsciously, she wanted to build Jack into her “knight” (pun intended), while, at the same time, she is trying to convince herself that she is wicked, as wicked as her father, who dismissed her as weak. So, when she promises to leave Ted alone, she is telling the truth. Despite her claims to the contrary, she has been keeping her word. I also think she respects Ted and secretly wishes she could have had a father like that, or at least felt the love from her father that Jack has from his.

    Glad to see the quality continues on the new network. Looking forward to the polybagged, foil-embossed, pog-enhanced, special 50th episode, which will change everything!

    Take care.

    1. Thanks Jeff. As always, some very insightful comments. I’m a bit leery to go into too much of the future of Jack and Nash’s rivalry, but I do think Robinson does some VERY interesting things with the character. I ultimately like Grand Guignol, but I do get that the tone of the series changed a bit when Harris left. I think the “Stars My Destination” storyline running so long and being so different helped mask a bit of that, but it did have a different vibe to it.

      Doing prep work for episode 50 now!


  2. Loved this episode so much! I don’t have a lot of blow-by-blow, but just wanted to say these episodes make me giddy with excitement. I fell in love with this comic when issue #0 was released and was there for every issue. I bought all the spin-offs and crossovers (Chris – Did you ever get a copy of the first SHADE mini-series?), and own the first two softcover omnibus. The sad part is that I haven’t re-read it since original publication. So walking through the issues with you both has been a real treat!

    Keep up the great work! Really, really enjoying these episodes!!

    1. Thanks Shag! I haven’t found a copy of the Shade mini yet. I did read it back when it was new, but that was during my comic shop clerk days, when I read MANY comics…and often didn’t buy them. Don’t tell anyone.

      I also need to find the Showcase issues with Shade and Dr. Fate that we alluded to in our last episode!

      Thanks for following along with us! I hadn’t read the whole series all the way through in a long time either, so this is more than just podcast fodder, it’s a chance to reconnect with one of my all-time favorite series.


      1. Love the episode and so glad someone is focussing on this great series in an intelligent way.

        The hardcover collections completely bundle up all the extraneous material such as the annuals, Showcase issues, Shade mini, Batman/Hellboy/Starman, Secret Files, odd JSA short stories etc. So far they’ve only released 2 softcovers of the 6 hardcovers, but it looks like DC are getting back on with releasing 3 onward in July. Vol 3 includes the Shade mini roughly where it occurred in the context of the ongoing title. There is extensive back matter and essays by Robinson and Harris included in them so they’re well worth it even if you have the issues. I’ve triple dipped and bought Starman and related materials in issues, trade and hardcover collections as each has been released. I’ve since passed the trades on to my buddy Moby, but I can never get rid of the issues due to autographs and letters of mine included.

        1. Hey everybody, Paul says we’re intelligent!

          No seriously, thank you. We appreciate you listening! Also, thanks to your recommendation, I think I may have to look into the hardcovers or new trades. I treasure my Starman issues, so I’ve avoided all of the collections so far. But now that I know they have some nice “special features”, I may need to get them. Can I write that off on my taxes?


          1. It’s worth doubling down on for a series you revisit. Only the last 2 hardcovers are readily available, and tpb 1 is a bit scarce now.

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