Monday, July 3, 2006

Abandoned post: Rip-Off Theatre Presents: Starman vs. Barman, part one: Alcohol + liveblogging = hopefully, sexy results

I gave up on this one, but I hate to lose the work, so here it is if anybody wants to read it.  The main problem with it was that I liked the idea, but I was kind of fighting with myself to lie about the nature of the piece.  You see, I didn't read the book all at once, but I had recently finished reading it, and as I did so, I thought of the idea to write it up as if I was liveblogging, preferably in a progressively drunken manner.  But given a day's space from the initial idea (and discomfort with blogging under false pretenses and disrupting my oh-so-important credibility), it didn't really seem to be worth the effort, even if there were a few things that I thought were worth saying (those mainly being that it seems like an okay series, but trying a bit too hard to be "mature".  A bit of "shocking" violence here, some flowery language there, but nothing that made me think it was a great series that I had been missing out on).  So, here's the short portion that did make it:

I'm not sure how well this will work, but it's worth a try.  I should probably be writing about one of the many books that are piling up in my end-of-the-year queue, but what better way to start a new year than a dubious attempt to humor myself and waste everyone's time?

The contender: Starman Omnibus, volume 1

The writer: James Robinson, of such illustrious pursuits as Leave it to Chance, Firearm, and the screenplay for LXG: League of X-traordinary Gentlemen.

The artist: Tony Harris, illustrator of Ex Machina (with Brian K. Vaughan), War Heroes (with Mark Millar), and Spider-Man: With Great Power (with David Lapham)

The bench: Stuart Immonen (Ultimate Spider-Man, Nextwave), Tommy Lee Edwards (The Question, Marvel 1985), Amanda Conner (Terra, Power Girl, The Pro), Chris Sprouse (Tom Strong, Midnighter), Gary Erskine (Dan Dare, The Filth), Teddy Kristiansen (House of Secrets), Andrew Robinson (Dusty Star), Matt Smith (Astronauts in Trouble).

The misson: Make it through this thing without passing out.  Oh, and try to write something witty and coherent.

The preamble:  For years, I've heard that Starman is one of the great superhero books of the 90s, but I've never read any of it, and I think my only exposure to James Robinson was in his short run on Generation X, back when that was one of my favorite books (hey, I was young, and Chris Bachalo's art still holds up).  Needless to say, even by my minimal standards of the time, I was not impressed.  So here's his chance to show me what I was missing.  Let's take this issue by issue, and drink by drink.

Starman #0 (cracking open a Sam Adams):

Wordy captions introducing the settiong of Opal City (one of DC's many fictional locales) lead off the issue, and then we see the goofy-looking, green-and-red-suited, fin-headed Starman doing his best Batman/gargoyle impression.  And then he gets shot on the next page.  Not a bad beginning, even if we know this guy isn't the Starman we came to read about.  That guy wears a bitchin' leather jacket, not this silly getup.  We meet that guy next though; he's Jack Knight, the brother of the dead guy and son of Ted Knight, the original Starman.  In a flashback, we see that he's the black sheep, not wanting anything to do with superheroics.  Ooh, irony; we know how that will turn out.  So he goes to the collectibles (junk) shop he owns, and promptly gets a call from his dad saying that his brother is dead.  Then dad leaves his house (labratory? observatory?  He's a scientist of some sort), which promptly explodes.  Evil doings are afoot.  

Next, some scary guy enters Jack's store.  You can tell he's bad because he wears dark glasses with a funny-looking nosepiece that sticks up onto his forehead.  No good guy wears such weird eyewear.  He tries to kill Jack, but Jack fights back and recovers the backup cosmic rod (Starman's tool of the trade) that his dad stashed there, just in time to escape as the place burns down.  But Mr. Weirdo-Specs gets a "cosmic belt" that was also there, and he's sure to do bad things with it.  He goes and meets his father, who turns out to be a creepy old Starman villain named The Mist; along with his children (including a daughter who bombed the observatory), he's planning a revenge on his longtime enemy.

As the issue ends, Jack stumbles away wounded, determined to meet up with his father.  It's not a bad opening to the series, establishing that he's going to have to eventually rise to meet the demand for a hero and learn the hero's ways, etc.  Tony Harris's art isn't bad, although it's pretty unrecognizable compared to his current style.  Some of the faces seem kind of similar, but there are a lot more heavy shadows, and it's a bit more angular than his current rounded figures.  The action isn't especially great either, but it's followable.  The writing seems pretty competent also, but some of the narration is a bit wordy, and there's a lengthy inner monologue in which Jack's trying to escape from his burning store, and he lists off all the precious stuff that's being destroyed while stumbling around in a daze.  That's kind of silly.  Well, we'll see what's coming up.

Starman #1 (still nursing the first Sam Adams):