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The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 4

It did take me a while to get into the series, but it’s hard to describe James Robinson’s fantastic superhero saga as anything other than mandatory reading material for anyone with an interest in the genre, its history or its evolution. Starman was the comic book of the nineties, and a fresh look at an already classic concept. Alan Moore picked apart the superhero genre in Watchmen, declaring that the medium was growing creatively bankrupt. Robinson seems intent to prove otherwise. Brick by brick and strand by strand, Robinson has painstakingly given us one of the most interesting and complex creations in the medium. Often exploring and questioning the roots and the clichés of the superhero genre, Robinson is prone to revel in them. If we are interested in the evolution of the genre, Starman is the book for you.

Everything is better with Nazis...

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The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 3

What makes a hero? Is it a cosmic rod and a kick-ass pair of glare-reducing goggles? Is it being a “grim avenger full of hate for the bad” (one of Robinson’s more subtle jabs at Batman during this run)? Or is it simply “doing what’s right because it is”? Is it the honest desire to make the world a better place with “no vengeful motivation” or “nothing ulterior”? We may be getting ahead of ourselves here, but James Robinson really digs into what constitutes a ‘true’ hero here, looking at the classic simplistic conception of the superhero, rejecting the violence of the anti-hero or the deconstruction which has crept into comics over the past few years (mostly in lieu of character development or to seem darker and edgier). Is that what a hero is?

I don’t know, but I find myself agreeing with Batman. No matter how you cut it, Jack Knight is a hero.

A knight in shining armour...

A Knight in shining armour...

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The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 2

Now we’re getting into it. It seems that Robinson has got all the setup necessary to move the story forward out of the way (or at least the bulk of it) and that Tony Harris has finally found his feet on the series. This collection moves a lot more fluidly than the last one – partially due to the fact that it closes as many threads as it opens, but also because Robinson is no free of having to establish the series’ premise and can now focus on the stories that he wants to tell (almost, we’ll come to the exceptions). Those stories are – by and large – reflective studies of what is known as “The Golden Age” of comic books: the 1930s and 1940s. What happened to the world between then and now? What happened to the heroes? Was it ever really the kinder gentler place we recall?

christmasknight

And it's our first Chrismas-themed image... Earlier every year...

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The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 1

I’m not quite sure what to make of the collection. I know it’s the first of six volumes which will include the entire 80-issue run of James Robinson’s reimagining the concept (plus extras) and I know that it’s the opening chapter of a much more expansive story. And I know that – as a story – it is structured in a much more dynamic and interesting way than most other superhero adventures. But I’m not feeling it. At least not yet.

jackknight

No hero here(o)...

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