30 December 2013

Review: The Starman Omnibus, Volume Four by James Robinson with Jerry Ordway

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2010 (contents: 1998-99)
Acquired February 2010
Read October 2013
The Starman Omnibus, Volume Four

Writers: James Robinson, Jerry Ordway
Pencillers: Tony Harris, Mike Mignola, Pete Krause, John Lucas, Mike Mayhew, Gary Erskine, Matt Smith, Gene Ha, Steve Sadowski, Wade von Grawbadger, Dusty Abell, Tim Burgand
Inkers: Wade von Grawbadger, Mike Mignola, Dick Giordano, Gary Erskine, Richard Case, Gene Ha, John Lucas, Mike Mayhew, Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci, Tim Burgand, Ray Snyder
Colorists: Gregory Wright, Carla Feeny, Matt Hollingsworth, Glenn Whitmore, Pat Garrahy, Gene Ha
Letterers: Bill Oakley, Kurt Hathaway, Willie Schubert, John Costanza

Volume Four is maybe the weakest part of Starman. A lot of it feels like biding time. At the end of Volume Three, Sadie asks Jack if he will go into space to look for her brother, because (susprise!), she is secretly the brother of a previous Starman. But that doesn't happen in this book, and indeed, there's no emotional fallout from the fact that Sadie has basically been lying to/manipulating Jack their entire relationship. I get that she grew to love him, but there should be something to deal with it.

Also: the crossover with Captain Marvel doesn't quite work, though I don't have a good feeling as to why. I don't think the worlds are incommensurable, but the fight is forced, and the contrasts aren't hit quite the way one would hope.

While the book bides its time, it does have its highlights: a "Time Past" story of Ted Knight and the ever-lovable Etrigan, the cleverly constructed 80-page giant anthology (especially the appearance of "Those Li'l O'Dares (and Patrolman Clarence)"), and the story of the Mist's "team-up" with Mary Marvel, the exploration of the relationship between Ted and his cousin Sandra (the Phantom Lady) all stand out to me as some of the more memorable standalone Starman stories. Mike Mayhew's art on the latter is especially superb.

Also featuring superb artwork: issue #45, where Jack finally leaves for space. Tony Harris pulls out all the stops for his last issue on the title. The two-page spread of Jack and Mikaal boarding the rocket, saying goodbye to friends and family, is superb, and a worthy final effort from Harris, whose talents visibly grew over the course of the series. The rocket's launch is also magnificent.

Finally, I don't know why someone out there thought that Batman/Hellboy/Starman was a must-have crossover, but I could look at that beautiful Mike Mignola artwork all day. Combined with Matt Hollingsworth's colors, it's a stunning use of light and dark.

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