Monday, March 2, 2009

This Made Me Sort of Sad

I was reading a review of the WonderCon panel with James Robinson (linked with the title of this entry), and I came across a pretty disheartening quote:

Would you have done anything differently in “Starman?”. Were there any characters you didn’t use?”

“There was a painted novel I wanted to do, so there’s a little piece of the picture missing, but Jack is no longer in my head and it’s too difficult to get back there now, so it’ll never get written.”

Starman is the type of book that I'd want to write. Sure, it's a superhero comic, but it's so much more. It's about family, and tradition, and legacy. In 80 issues and a handful of specials, we see the birth and maturation of a new hero with an old, old name (his dad first bore the mantle in the 1940, and there were five other characters to go by the moniker between dad and son, with at least one more to come after). We see a fractured family come together despite being different in just about every way, and it's through the logical growth of all characters involved. We see a lot of characters come and go, some who stay and some who die, but all leaving their little mark on the Starman mythology.

This is the book I always recommend to those who want a great, mostly self-contained story. I put it up there with Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Garth Ennis' Preacher. And for good or ill, I'll always compare Robinson's post-Starman work to this, and while I have enjoyed a majority of it (I love what's going on in the Superman titles right now, and I'm really looking forward to his JLA mini, if only to see Mikaal (the blue Starman) again), it still pales in comparison.

As with all stories that a person finds fascinating and tends to incorporate into their life, you always want the author to revisit at times, just to see what the characters have been up to. And this is regardless to how the series wrapped up (what happened after the series finale of Angel (which we now know), what happened after aliens were defeated in Independence Day (I've got my own ideas), etc.). Robinson clearly finished telling the tale of Jack Knight. At the end of this series, he was moving on to a new point in his life, one that really had no connection to last 80 months we spent with him. The mantle had been passed and he was beginning a new legacy with his new family.

But there were always rumors that Robinson and original Starman artist Tony Harris would reunite for a mini detailing Jack's time in the Orient. It never happened, despite all of the interest in the trade paperbacks of the series and now the hardcover Omnibuses that are reprinting the series with all the bells and whistles that the TPBs left out (most notably the Shade's journal entries). Now Robinson mentions this painted novel that isn't going to happen, and I'm wondering if it is the same thing. I can only imagine the wonderful work that Harris would produce for this.

One thing I can hold onto, though, is that my memory of this series is as yet untarnished. Even as I'm reading the Omnibus editions as they're released (2nd one is out soon, I believe), it holds up remarkably well. Some comic books seem dated after a year, let alone relatively short 6 or so years that Starman has been off the stands. And this is good because noone has taken Jack Knight and changed him to fit their own mold of the character, squeezing this round character to fit in their square peg just so they carve their own notch into this character who has, in mind, only thrived in obscurity since his series ended.

So while it's okay to be sad that there will not be anymore James Robinson-penned Jack Knight in the forseeable future, rejoice that there was any to begin with. Be happy that, as with many great stories, whether they be printed or on film, each subsequent reread (or viewing) may bring new nuances to the story that may not have been immediately obvious the first (or even second or third) time around. I still see new thing each time I read Stephen King's "The Stand" or watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Fight Club.

If you're a comic book enthusiast and have yet to experience the wonderment of Starman, I urge you to track down the Starman Omnibus Volume One, which is still available at a great price on Amazon, with volumes two (out tomorrow? Yay!!!) and three available for preorder. While you're at it, I'd also recommend picking up Robinson's "Golden Age," which is an unofficial prequel to "Starman."

If you've already read and enjoyed this series, let me point you to some reflections that you might be interested in. This is a multi-part look back and slight deconstruction of the series that was wonderful done. All parts are linked here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII

I only recommend this for those who have already read the series, though, and it give a blow-by-blow description of pretty much ever issue of the series.

Listening to: honeyhoney - Come on Home
via FoxyTunes

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