Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Matt Signal Advent Calendar 2014 Day 16: Starman #34

Starman #34, September 1997

When you grow up reading superhero comics, you come to expect certain things. Bright costumes, big action scenes, and the illusion of change, to name a few. What you don't expect is film criticism in the mind of a supervillain.

 By the time Starman #34 had come out, I had read plenty about the comic in (lord I feel ashamed saying this) Wizard. It was supposed to be this hip, new, different superhero comic. I had read one issue, a crossover with the Underworld Unleashed event, and while it wasn't bad, it wasn't anything special. But issue thirty-three guest starred Batman, and so I picked it up, and that seemed more in line with what I read. Batman was guesting is thirty-four as well, so I picked it up, and this blew me away.

Jack Knight (the current Starman), Batman, Sentinel (the then-current superhero alias of original Green Lantern Alan Scott), and the Floronic Man (Jason Woodrue, a villain with plant powers), eat psychedelic tubers to enter the mind of plant monster-man Solomon Grundy, who had reformed and was a friend of Jack, to try to help him recover from a coma. OK, trippy tubers was something new to me to begin with. But as they journey, they start discussing heroism, and favorite heroes, and it turns into a discussion of favorite Woody Allen movies.

That scene had me rolling on the floor laughing, as Batman is a total downer, acting like this whole thing is business as usual, while Jack talks about Broadway Danny Rose, Sentinel remembers Everybody Says I Love You, and Woodrue waxes about the comedy of Interiors (if you've ever seen it, you'll know why that's funny). This opened my eyes to the fact that you could break the formula of super-heroes and come up with something new and different, and was a segue into thinking about trying out other kinds of comics. Starman proved a good gateway into Vertigo, which I was finally old enough to read, indies, and other different comics, which I'll always be grateful for. Oh, by the way, in the next issue, Batman does tell Jack what his favorite Woody Allen movie is. Not surprisingly, it's Crimes and Misdemeanors.

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