I’m flattered that Matt said he was looking forward to my review of Starman #81, but also a bit surprised. While I’ve definitely loved the series, since he’s a bigger Golden Age fan (and to be honest, a bigger fan of times past) and the one who introduced me to Starman in the first place, I expected that I would take my cues on this book from him. Still, I’ll give it a shot and hopefully not let him down.
As disappointed as I am in the Blackest Night experience so far, this is the perfect opportunity to revisit Opal City. This is a natural tie-in since most of The Opal’s heroes are gone at this point. Most of the story revolves around the relationship between The Shade and Hope O’Dare, whose soap-opera ramblings seem completely out of character. This is not a Shade I recognize, and even though he doesn’t seem to recognize himself anymore, either, the difference is just too stark. By the end even his speech patterns have changed to become Jack’s, with verbal pauses and references to Crackerjack prizes.
The art isn’t doing the story any favors, either. I’m not familiar with Fernando Dagnino’s work, but it was completely overpowered by Bill Sienkiewicz. Maybe it’s just because I don’t get Sienkiewicz’s art in general, but it was too sketchy for my taste, and the characters look far too different from the people we’re used to.
Matt’s right, there’s an awful lot crammed into one issue. I imagine it wouldn’t have been quite as rushed if Robinson had all the space he needed rather than just a one-issue tie-in. I’m still willing to believe that a Starman revival could work, but only when Robinson finds his (and the characters’) voice again. It’s great to see our friends after so long, but if these aren’t the people we know then there’s little point.
Starman 81 isn’t a bad issue, but it’s not stellar (no pun intended). I just hope that if we see more of Starman and opal City, Robinson gives himself more of a warm-up to really get back into the rhythms of Opal City.