Today’s Super Comic — Starman #65 (2000)

Stephen King isn’t the only writer to trap a bunch of people under a dome. James Robinson did it several years earlier in Starman…although this impenetrable dome is pitch black rather than transparent.

The Shade has seemingly reverted to his old evil ways, imperiling everyone within Opal City. Several other villains are working for him, and other superheroes are also trapped within the city. The Elongated Man gets a nice scene that emphasizes the two most important aspects of his character—his detective skills and his loving relationship with his wife Sue.

The story’s most important superhero, obviously, is the current Starman, Jack Knight. From the beginning, the series has made it clear how tremendously important Opal City is to Jack, and now he must fight overwhelming odds to save it…against someone he thought was a friend.

Robinson has set quite a few pieces into place, and the stakes are escalating nicely as we head toward the series’ final year.

Writer: James Robinson

Artist: Peter Snejbjerg

Cover: Andrew Robinson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Starman Omnibus vol. 6 (HC)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Starman #56 (1999)

There’s a lot to love about James Robinson’s Starman, and issue #56 highlights one of those many fine qualities—a strong supporting cast.

While Jack Knight is off in space in search of a previous Starman, we check in on Opal City and several of its familiar residents, such as Ted Knight, the O’Dare family of cops, Jack’s girlfriend Sadie, and the Shade. The thread holding this particular issue together is a mystery involving the Shade. He’s either returning to a life of crime…or he’s being framed. Time (and a later issue) will tell, but it’s an intriguing set-up that makes good use of the book’s cast.

It also opens the door for several guest stars, another area where the book excels. In this issue alone, we see brief appearances by the Elongated Man, the Phantom Lady, Adam Strange, and the Black Condor. Not a single one is an A-lister, or even close, but that’s part of what makes their appearances welcome.

DC has so many superheroes on the periphery who seldom get a chance to shine but who have plenty of potential, who are just waiting for the right writer to come along with an interesting angle to leverage that potential…which is basically what happened to Starman with this series.

So, yes, as I approach the three-quarters mark of this series, I’m still enjoying it tremendously.

Story: James Robinson and David Goyer

Writer: James Robinson

Pencilers: Stephen Sadowski and Peter Snejbjerg

Inker: Keith Champagne

Cover: Andrew Robinson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Starman Omnibus vol. 5 (HC)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — 52 #42 (2007)

52 week 42Catch-up post!

After decades as a C-list comic relief superhero, the Elongated Man finally has his moment.

And that’s basically what the weekly 52 series was all about. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were absent for a year of DC’s continuity, allowing other characters time in the spotlight, such as Booster Gold, Renee Montoya, Animal Man, and others, even strechy guy Ralph Dibny. Different storylines featured different characters, showcasing various aspects of the DC Universe throughout the course of the year. The 52-issue series was quite an achievement in rapidly produced serialized storytelling (even if it did lead to the company’s obsession with the number 52), giving us lots of fantastic issues along the way.

While most issues made room for multiple storylines, issue #42 is almost entirely given to the climax of Ralph’s arc. And it’s a tremendous payoff that demonstrates why the Justice League kept the silly stretchy around for so many years, as a grief-stricken Elongated Man is able to employ his considerable detective skills to outwit a particularly powerful opponent.

Very nice to see a perennial C-lister get to shine, and to see an underdog triumph.

But don’t start with this issue—read the whole series.

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, George Rucka, Mark Waid

Layouts: Keith Giffen

Artist: Darick Robertson

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; 52 vol. 4 (TPB)

Appropriate For: 12 and up