Starman: Grand Guignol: More History Still

[17 June 2009]

By shathley Q

PopMatters Comics Editor

Arising from the pages of DC’s 1994 summer crossover event, Zero Hour, new series Starman would always emphasize the telling of the superhero story as a generational one

. From father to at-first reluctant son, from scientist to new-age hipster artist, from Theodore Knight to Jack, writer James Robinson would set himself the task of unveiling the personal lives of superheroes with Starman. Running just shy of 100 issues, the series would unmask the secret connections between superheroes of the Golden Age; “The Mercury Seven of superheroes”, as eponymous Starman Jack Knight at one point claims of his father’s generation. Moreover, Starman would show the sons and daughters of superheroes and their adversaries. In the scope of a single monthly comicbook, Robinson would reaffirm, not a nostalgia, but an enduring sense of how much a world has changed for there being superheroes and supervillains.

“Grand Guignol” the ninth and penultimate book in the Starman library, takes its name from the farcical, ultra-violent French plays of the 19th century, where murder and mayhem were usual fare for thrilling audiences. This book provides Jack Knight with the completion of his character arc. Initially, he only even used his father’s superhero technology to save a hospital memorial wing bequeathed in his mother’s name. Now he must stand in his father’s place as defender of Opal City (a city Jack himself loves) against an occult conspiracy a century in the making. Family ties have been strengthened and Jack no longer shuns his father’s legacy.

Slowly, readers begin to feel that most endearing parts of Starman, the telling of the secret histories of the DC universe, have run their course. All that remains now is the final and very mundane super-heroics of punching and kicking and saving the world. But on the eve of Jack’s final battle, Robinson takes a moment to remind readers that one storyarc remains, and that past histories will once again be the centerpiece of the book.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/95261-starman-grand-guignol-more-history-still/