Sunday, January 31, 2010

Starman #81

“Blackest Night Starman”

Writer: James Robinson

Penciller: Fernando Dagnino

Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz

Editor: Wil Moss


David Knight rises from the grave as a Black Lantern, and tears his way through Opal City on a mission of revenge. Only the Shade and hope O’Dare stand a chance against him, but first they have some relationship issues to work out…


Page 1: Starman (second series) ran from issue #0 in 1994 until issue #80 in 2001.

A brief recap of David Knight’s extremely short tenure as Starman VI; this scene is taken from Starman (second series) #0.

“My father the great hero, the great scientist.” This refers to Ted Knight, the original Starman.

Page 2: Starman VI, real name David Knight. First appeared in Starman (first series) #25. Killed in Starman (second series) #0. Wielded a Gravity Rod that could harness cosmic energy and allow him to fire energy blasts and fly.

Page 3: These two cops are stationed at the Starman Museum, located in Opal City. It celebrates the lives of the men who have defended the city and adopted the mantle of “Starman."

Colors is a 1988 film directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Robert Duvall and Sean Penn as two LAPD cops trying to keep the gang violence between the Crips and the Bloods at bay.

Pages 4-5: Oh boy, a whole lot of stuff to point out here…

First, let’s look at the pictures and photographs on the walls of the museum. Starting from left to right, and moving clockwise around each wall…

First wall – Ted Knight, Starman I (round picture); Jack Knight, Starman VII; and Mikaal Tomas, Starman III

Second wall – Courtney Whitmore, Stargirl II; Will Payton, Starman V; Prince Gavyn, Starman IV (picture only half seen); Doris Lee, Stargirl I; David Knight, Starman II (the Starman of 1951); and Thom Kallor, Starman VIII

Third wall – Phantom Lady I, Sandra Knight; Brian Savage, Scalphunter (in the old-style photo); Jon Valor, the Black Pirate; Steven Savage, Balloon Buster; Jake “Bobo” Benetti; and Richard Swift, the Shade

Fourth and fifth wall – most of these are obscured by word balloons

Sixth wall; this is the Ted Knight wall -- The Justice Society of America (Starman I, Hawkman I, Sandman I, the Flash I, Hourman I, Green Lantern I and the Atom I); Starman I battling the Mist I, Starman I and Wonder Woman I battling the Shade; Starman I and Black Canary I; Starman I, the Flash I and Green Lantern I after they killed the Rag Doll I; and Starman confronting Etrigan the Demon (Ted is obscured)

“Not much of a gang problem anymore, now Rag Doll’s gone.” The original Rag Doll, Peter Merkel, became a cult leader towards the end of his villain career. He and his cult took to the streets, Opal City was gripped by fear and killing. Starman and the JSA rallied to save the city, and Rag Doll was captured, but the insane cult leader threatened the lives of the heroes’ families. Starman, fearing for his sons’ safety, killed Rag Doll, but is body disappeared form the morgue the next day. This was depicted in Starman (second series) #11.

“Bobo Benetti” refers to Jake “Bobo” Benetti, a former super-villain with super-strength. Upon his release from prison, he decided he was going to rob a bank but it was already in the process of being robbed. Benetti teamed-up with Jack Knight to capture the criminals. This was seen in Starman (second series) #29. He now operates as one of Opal City’s officially licensed heroes.

The “Prairie Witch” was a mystic who battled Ted Knight several times in the 1940s. She reappeared decades later to aid Culp in a ritual against Opal City. Apparently, a new woman has donned the identity of the Prairie Witch.

Turk County” is the region outside of Opal City.

“We’re here guarding the Starman Museum because we don’t want another ‘Kobra’ happening.” Kobra recently stole some of Ted Knight’s note about teleportation technology in JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith #3.

Lot of them died. Ted Knight, of course.” Ted Knight was killed in Starman (second series) #72.

“Black Condor.” Black Condor II, Ryan Kendall, was killed in Infinite Crisis #1.

“The Dibnys.” Sue Dibny was killed in Identity Crisis #1. Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. the Elongated Man, was killed in 52 Week Forty-Two.

“Ted’s son, the one who wasn’t Jack.” That was David, killed in Starman (second series) #0.

“And Jack Knight moved away -- ” Jack Knight moved to San Francisco to love with his girlfriend Sadie in Starman (second series) #80.

“The O’Dares like him.” Two generations of the O’Dares have been members of the Opal City Police Department. Clarence, Mason and Hope are still alive.

Page 6: The police officer is feeling fear, rage and will.

Page 7: Black Lantern David has stolen one of his father’s old Gravity Rods and uses his power ring to transform it into something a bit more brutal.

Page 8: The Shade, real name Richard Swift. First appeared in Flash Comics #33. An immortal connected to the Shadowlands, able to manipulate and control darkness at will.

Hope O’Dare, youngest of the O’Dares. First appeared in Starman (second series) #1.

The Shade and Hope O’Dare have always had an interesting relationship. Despite the fact that Hope is ant-English, she trusted the Shade and eventually told him that she wanted to go out on a date. As we can now see, the two of them are doing far more than just dating, but, they are two consenting adults and it’s really none of my business.

“It seemed fun when it started. But it was so soon after your brothers died…and Jack leaving and Ted dying…then it was all we were looking for.” Barry and Matt O’Dare, Hope’s older brothers, were killed during Nash’s second crime spree in Opal City. Ted Knight was killed preventing a doomsday bomb from destroying the city. These events were depicted in “The Grand Guignol” storyline in Starman (second series) #62-73. Jack Knight left Opal City in Starman (second series) #80.

Page 9: “Barnabas Collins” refers to the main character of the ABC soap opera Dark Shadows, played by Jonathan Frid. He was a vampire, hence Hope imagining that Shade’s home was “creepy and dark.”

Page 10: Clarence O’Dare, commissioner of the Opal City Police Department. First appeared in Starman (second series) #10.

It seems that a lot of people online assume that Clarence O’Dare is killed in this scene, but I don’t think so. He’s on the phone with the mayor and, as he chats, David is killing police officers all across Opal, as seen on the next page. Nothing in the inset panels indicates that Clarence is killed, and, until James Robinson himself declares that Clarence is dead, I am sticking to my guns on this one.

That photograph in the bottom right panel is of Clarence O’Dare and his wife Faith.

Page 11: David on a killing spree. Lovely.

Page 12: Mason O’Dare, a beat cop. First appeared in Starman (second series) #1.

“Husband to the psychic.” Mason O’Dare is married to Charity, a fortune teller, as revealed in the Trinity series. And, yes, that means that the women of the O’Dare family are named Faith, Hope and Charity.

Mason is feeling will and love.

Page 13: Hope is feeling hope (well, duh), will and rage.

“You’re ashamed of your sex…the girl…the weak girl in the family of men.” Hope has always felt like she had had to prove herself, being the only girl in a family of cops.

Page 14: The Shade loves nothing more than making a grand entrance.

Page 15: “For all your ‘banter,’ knowing this and that, I sense there’s nothing of the real David Knight in you at all.” The Shade correctly deduces that the Black Lanterns aren’t really the heroes and villains brought back to life; rather, it is some force that is using the bodies of the deceased for dramatic emotional effect.

“I’m sure he’ll think he’s ‘talking with David’ until the moment I rip out his heart.” After Jack Knight became Starman, he began having annual visits from his dead brother David in his dreams, where they would talk about their family, friends and the heroic legacy of their father. These tales, known as “Talking with David,” began in Starman (second series) #5.

The Shade is feeling will.

Pages 16-17: The Shade is now rattled; he’s feeling hope, love and fear.

When the Shade was first introduced, he was just an ordinary villain with darkness-casting abilities. James Robinson cast him as a morally ambiguous individual who had a certain love and fondness for Opal City. Basically, he would defend Opal City with his dying breath, but outside of Opal he indulged in his villainous ways.

The Shade is feeling will, love and rage.

Page 18: Ouch. That looks like it hurt.

Hope is feeling love and fear.

Page 19: The Black Lantern power ring is having trouble “reading” the Shade and can’t raise him, mainly because he probably isn’t even remotely human anymore. The rings have had similar issues with Dove and Etrigan the Demon.

Pages 20-21: “You threaten my city! My Opal!” The Shade takes an extremely poor view of those who threaten his city.

Pages 22-23: “I’m sorry, my darling. But if there is one thing I love almost as much as you…it’s dramatic effect.” That Shade is such a showman…

Page 24: So, the Shade and Hope are still kinda-sorta dating? And he loves her, and she doesn’t not love him?

Sounds like those crazy kids have a bright future ahead of them after all…