The Comic Speculator: Starman
This Wednesday one of my favorite writers returns to comics after a much too long absence. ”James Robinson” wrote some of the most important and best comics of the 1990’s and then fell off the radar. Well not completely off the radar. Robinson left comics to pursue his writing carrier in Hollywood. After writing some small cult films like ”Comic Book Villians” and the screenplay for the failed 2003 summer blockbuster ”The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, neither of which are regarded as classics or even being very good for that matter, Robinson makes his return to comics as the new eries writer for Superman beginning this week with issue #676. Robinson has been writing comics since 1989 and in that time has produced such critically acclaimed books as The Golden Age for Marvel and JSA for DC. The series he is best known for is DC’s ”Starman”.
Starman was the story of ”Jack Knight”, the Son of the Golden Age Starman Ted Knight, who reluctantly inherited the title of Starman after his more heroic brother David was killed in action. Jack differed from other DC heroes in the sense that he was a junk dealer with an eye for antiques that would rather track down tin toys and 60’s kitchen sets than wear a costume and fight crime. He accepted the job of Starman after his brother’s death but only at the urging of his father. Unlike the previous Starmen Jack refused to wear the traditional Starman costume and dons a leather jacket with a toy western sheriff’s star and welding goggles. Jack uses a variation of his father’s cosmically charged rod that has been converted to a staff which enables him to fly and fire bolts of cosmic energy.
Starman separated itself from other superhero comics by being driven more by Jack Knight’s personal life dealing with his father’s history and brother’s death. Robinson’s writing allowed the reader to relate to Jack Knight in a way that had never been possible with other DC icons like Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne. Jack Knight’s character was more Woody Allen than Clark Gable. It was Jack’s humanity and flaws that made his character believable and the comic such a great read.
Robinson’s Starman ran for 80 issues, including a #0 issue, from 1994-2001 and was the second series with that title. The previous series ran for 45 issues from 1988-2001 and told the story of Will Payton, who gained his cosmic powers after being struck by a bolt of energy from space. The only sought after issue of Starman vol. 1 was #26, the first appearance of Jack Knight’s brother David, which guides for $5.00 in Near Mint condition.
Robinson co-created Starman with series artist . It was Harris’ cover art that initially drew me to Starman. At the time Harris was a relative newcomer to comics but his run on Starman would lift him to superstar status and several ”Eisner Award” nominations. Tony Harris is currently the penciler on DC/Wildstorm’s ”Ex Machina”.
Although Starman back issues don’t guide very high, issues #0 and #1 guide the highest at $7.00 each, collectors will find it very difficult to track them down. I have a friend whose been trying to put together a Starman run for more than a year now. Full runs of the series sell on Ebay for $80-$120 but they are few and far between. However, Starman issues could become more readily available now that DC is reissuing the entire series in a multi-volume hardcover set called ”The Starman Omnibus”. Generally when high quality hardcover reprints hit the market a number of collectors will part with their original issues.
The latest reprints along with Robinson taking over writing duties on Superman this coming Wednesday could lead to a renewed interest in Starman and a serious spike in this highly under-valued series.
For more on James Robinson’s Superman and other new comics check out my other blog, ”This Week in Geek” where I discuss the new comics of the week that could be tomorrow’s hot collectibles. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact me or post your question in the Comic Book community forum. Want to know what your comics are worth? Join Worthpoint for free and post your titles in the “Ask A Question” section.