It has been nearly two years since I last read one of the Starman Omnibuses, even if it felt like last month at most. Time really flies when you get older. It’s odd that I had no problems to continue where I left off the last time, despite the long time I hadn’t read the story, but then, I count Robinson’s run on Starman is one of the best and most memorable comic runs in the entire genre.
But back to the comic. The fifth Starman Omnibus is all about Starman going to the stars, in search of the brother of his girlfriend, who once upon a time was a Starman himself. The entire omnibus is in science fiction mode, though since the primary genre is superhero fiction, it’s odd, reactionary science fiction in the vain that space is depicted in either Marvel or DC or Star Wars of all things. It’s all kingdoms and princesses in space, with the most advanced polities employing guys with old-fashioned space rays and maces to do violence to others (bolstered by rocket packs). Even everyday stuff of our world, like a global computer network, seems like a far-fetched dream in DC’s outer space futures.
That’s not to say it has no charm. DC’s retro-futures are completely in line with the old-school aesthetic of the entire Starman series and a perfect fit in terms of storytelling. Starman meets a Who’s Who of the science fiction concepts of the DC universe: the Legion of Super-Heroes, Rann and even the world where Swamp Thing was stranded on in space during the later part of Alan Moore’s famous run. But these science fiction adventures are more than just Jack’s space quest, they show how much he has matured as a superhero. From the guy who more or less stumbled into the role of a hero to a guy who is in full control of his powers and acts like a real hero.
Once upon a time Jack told the Mist’s daughter that he would be more than her, that being a hero is not about arbitrarily assigned good or bad labels that allows costumed freaks to fight each other, but about doing good, about making the world a better place without coming out ahead at the expense of others. Jack voyage to space marks that he doesn’t just talk the talk, but learned to live by that maxim. During each moment of his space quest Jack’s acting like an assured pro superhero. There’s no stumbling around anymore, no questioning whether this hero thing is working for him. Which also means he’s ready for the big finale in the last omnibus.