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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 92

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at Roger Stern and Tom Lyle’s run on Starman…
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Enjoy!

An interesting aspect of Stern and Lyle’s run on Starman is that they wrote and drew every issue of their 25 issue run – no fill-ins for either one of them. Pretty cool of them!

In any event, Starman was an interesting concept by Stern. While the character was being developed, DC decided it would make sense to tie him in with Invasion!, before Invasion! even BEGAN! And sure enough, Starman was probably more tied into Invasion! than any other title – even those written by Keith Giffen (architect of Invasion!)!

The basic concept of the book is something fairly similar to what Dwayne McDuffie would later come up with for Static. For years, comics have had the “new Spider-Man” – comics meant to evoke the early Ditko/Lee Spider-Man stories about a “normal” person suddenly given powers. That idea was used a lot before Starman and it has been used a lot since (Kyle Rayner is a good example). And it should, because it’s a great idea.

However, what made Starman a bit different was that he was a good deal more meta-fictional about it all. Here was a guy who, once he had powers, actually STUDIED superheroing and based himself on what he thought a superhero SHOULD be. You rarely see that level of self-realism from superheroes (similar heroes like Nova and Darkhawk tended to play it by ear). McDuffie took that idea to another level with Static when he had Static actually acknowledge the FICTIONAL construct of the superhero and use that to influence his actions – while in Starman, the influence is actual – he studies “actual” superheroes, not comics and movies.

Tom Lyle co-created Starman with Stern, and he does a generally good job on the series, although he gets a good deal better as the series goes on. Lyle had only being working as a regular artist for a couple of years (at Eclipse Comics – Airboy, for instance) so he definitely had a lot of growing to do as an artist, but to his credit, he did the work and by the time he finished the run he was basically the polished artist that he is today.

Here’s a sampling from the first issue so you can see how Will Payton is compelled to become a hero…

The villain Deadline, introduced in Starman #15, was perhaps the longest lasting contribution to comics from Starman. He’s a neat villain (Stern also did a nice job using DC continuity to bring in good unused characters like the mercenary villain Bolt and the scientist Kitty Faulkner and her alter-ego Rampage!)….

Finally, in Lyle’s last page as artist of the book, in #25, he debuts Starman’s much cooler looking costume…

James Robinson’s Starman is certainly the top Starman series of the 1990s, but this run was no slouch, either.

17 Comments

Jeremy A. Patterson

April 3, 2010 at 10:23 am

Some blasted a later issue of the series: http://www.option38.com/comics/modern/starman-38.asp

J.A.P.

The villain Deadline, introduced in Starman #15, was perhaps the longest lasting contribution to comics from Starman. He’s a neat villain

He does look cool. Have Didio or Johnuckanick used him as cannon fodder yet or is he still alive?

He does look cool. Have Didio or Johnuckanick used him as cannon fodder yet or is he still alive?

Johns did, in fact, kill him off in an issue of Flash.

However, Christos Gage revived him during his Deadshot mini-series (as Gage explained, when he was shot in the issue of Flash, he was pumped up on Joker Venom, so he was likely able to survive the shots).

So as of right now, he is still alive, but yeah, I do worry for him whenever he shows up in a comic. Bolt, the other cool villain Stern used a lot (from Blue Devil) actually lasted a pretty long time before HE was killed off, and even then, it was to be replaced by his son using a similar costume and name, so I guess that’s not a big deal.

Since this Starman is now gone, when Deadline does appear who is he usually fighting these days? Has he been “reassigned” to another hero?

Also, good job by Christos Gage of undoing some Johns cannon fodder without outright “resurrecting” the character.

Ostrander was the next writer to use him, and he set him up as an interesting adversary for Deadshot.

Then he popped up as a cool one-off adversary for both Steel and Aquaman.

However, he was also used pretty terribly (along with Deadshot) in a team called the Killer Elite (such a bad idea for a team).

Then he was mostly in limbo before Johns killed him off during the Joker’s Wild crossover.

That looks really cool. I hope they collect it after the next Starman omnibus since at the end of the last one they went into space to find him.

A good pick, Brian. A few random observations:

1. Nudity: I was a bit shocked by Starman’s bare buttocks. That kind of thing really jumps out in a late 80s mainstream comic. WAs it allowed because of the “male bare buttocks don’t count” exemption?

2. Roger Stern: More solid work from the most underrated writer in the industry. For further proof of Stern’s chops, just read his classic work at MARVEL in the 80s: AVENGERS, DOCTOR STRANGE (Stern’s stint on STRANGE is right up there with the Ditko-Lee and Englehart-Brunner runs), SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, etc. Why he is not under contract to either MARVEL or DC is beyond me.

I wonder how much Starman’s atrocious first costume had to do with the book’s sales.

Easy to see the Walt Simonson influence in the art, as well as the Stan Lee influence in the writing.

But Jayne is uncomfortably comfortable with her brother’s nekkidness.

Some people just don’t make a great deal about nudity, Mutt. As well they should not :)

Will Payton > Prince Gavyn

His sister Jayne ends up changing her name to Sadie and settling down with Jack Knight

Roger Stern is the man. The only issues I ever read of this series were the ones I was able to find at the library growing up, but I really liked it. I would totally be in for a collection of this.

Peter Woodhouse

April 4, 2010 at 7:47 am

Brian – interesting that you note this is one of the “comics meant to evoke the early Ditko/Lee Spider-Man stories about a “normal” person suddenly given powers.”
The Crane scene is also reminiscent of the classic Amazing S-M #33 (the lifting machinery/Master Planner story) by Ditko/Lee.
P.

So, I’m a little curious; did this guy come before Jack Knight? And has he shown up anywhere else? I thought the Knight family had a monopoly on the Starman thing. LOL.

Except Stargirl, of course.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 4, 2010 at 7:16 pm

So, I’m a little curious; did this guy come before Jack Knight? And has he shown up anywhere else? I thought the Knight family had a monopoly on the Starman thing. LOL.

If you read Jack Knight’s Starman, he gets tied in not only to them, as mentioned above, but also into another non-Knight Starman.

Except Stargirl, of course.

She changed her name to Stargirl once Jack Knight gave her his blessing, and his staff.

You jest, but it all comes together!

I don’t get Roger Stern. he just seems like a competent but mediocre writer of kiddy fodder. (the kind of kiddy fodder that people pass off on kids because it’s not good enough for adults – not the good kind)

Hated the fact that Robinson’s run basically took a huge steaming dump on this character.

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