Two men of very different destinies. Artist Craig Hamilton makes a compelling visual statement about writer James Robinson’s project of an art deco city in comics evolving from the lives of great men.
For writer James Robinson, the dream of an art deco comics has been a long, slow project. By issue 54 of Starman it had taken nearly five years. Winding its way through a passing exchange between characters, and on to being visualized by the series’ regular artists, Starman’s home of Opal eventually became as much a character as any other. But it is with issue 54, and with guest illustrator Hamilton, that the art deco theme finally transcends the visualization of Opal and influences the medium of comics itself. Ironically, issue 54 is set in the nineteenth century, long before the art deco movement properly took hold.
Hamilton depicts two men whose contribution to Opal live on for longer than a century. In doing so he opposes their individual characters, but also the fabric of the city’s life.
To the left is legendary blood-and-guts lawman, Sheriff Brian Savage, the Scalphunter. To the right stands Herman Moll reclusive (and by the close of the twentieth century, little-remembered) visionary, the fictive inventor of the first spaceship. Contrasted as looking down on their achievements, both remain unaware of the full impact they will have on the future of Opal.
The vibrancy and warmth of the palette used to depict Savage in the Chinese parlor differs sharply from the cold, clinical hues of Moll’s hangar. Yet for all its warmth, Savage’s world will require of Opal defenders prepared to spill blood. While for all the apparent cold of Moll’s panel, it is his work that will nurture the dreams of Ted Knight, the first Starman and provide Jack Knight a means to the stars.
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