Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas with Robinson's Starman!

It's Christmas Eve and Jack Knight, the Starman thinks he will be spending it helping out a homeless Santa but instead it's Santa who will be helping Jack discover the true spirit of Christmas.

On this Christmas day I thought it would be fun to look at a Christmas story from Starman #27 (Feb. 1997).
When James Robinson started writing Starman in 1994 he pulled out all of the stops.

Starman #0, Oct. 1994, part of DC Comics' Zero Hour cross-over.
Vertigo was in full swing with it’s Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Sandman, Shade the Changing Man and other revamps of old DC Comics heroes written to suit the more mature modern readers created in the aftermath of Moore's Watchmen and Miller's Dark Knight Returns. Starman could have been a Vertigo title but James didn't want it to be one. He wanted it to be part of the main DC Universe so that he could play in DC Comics vast sandbox of characters.

Starman first appeared in Adventure Comics #61, Apr. 1941 and was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Jack Burnley. The red and green tights worked well in the superhero craze of the early 40's but in the early 90's they didn't have the same appeal.
With Starman Robinson updated the whole concept of 'superhero'. He would write about antique collector, Jack Knight, who reluctantly adapts the mantel of Starman from his dad Ted Knight, the original Starman of DC Comics Golden Age but he refused to wear the goofy red and green threads his dad wore. Instead he stuck to his hip leather flight jacket and some vintage flight goggles.

Along with Jack Knight (upper left), Robinson created a rich cast of characters to accompany him on his adventures, characters like Shade (upper right), an old Straman villain who turned a new leaf and the O’Dares, an Irish/American family of red headed policemen (Barry O'Dare, Mason O'Dare, Clarence O'Dare, the oldest, Hope O'Dare, and Matt O'Dare, the badboy).
Jack's Christmas adventure Starts off simply enough as Clarence O'Dare, the oldest of the O'Dare siblings, and his wife prepare for their Christmas Eve dinner. 

And so Jack learns again the importance of human kindness and the innate worth of all human beings. One of the things that makes James Robinson's Starman so special is his characterizations. The large cast of characters like Ted Knight, Jack's dad and the original Starman, the O'Dare family, Mikkal the blue alien who was a previous Starman; we are sympathetic to all of them because of James' great dialog and prose. Though superheroes are often written for prepubescent boys, James Robinson writes the kind of work that a well read adult could enjoy.

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