Review by Frank Plowright
As has been the case for the previous two Starman Omnibus collections, a significant percentage of the content here falls outside the two paperbacks Starry Knight and Stars My Destination, otherwise combined here. More detailed review of that content can be found via the links. While none of the extra material qualifies as absolutely essential in affecting the main continuity, some is very good.
The longest of the extras introduces Courtney Whitmore, who will inherit Jack Knight’s cosmic rod and become Stargirl. That, though, is a book away. Here she’s inherited the cosmic belt previously supplied by Ted Knight to the Star-Spangled Kid. Two narratives intertwine, the better being that of the Star-Spangled Kid by virtue of Chris Weston’s art and the way it weaves into Jack’s earlier years. In the remainder Lee Moder draws the supposedly fifteen year old Courtney as if she has breast implants, and while Geoff Johns’ script is more in keeping with the peppy enthusiasm of her age, it’s a bonus rather than a selling point.
It’s nice to see Tony Harris back illustrating the original Starman during World War II, but James Robinson attempts to write a script as if of that era, complete with corny ending. Robinson with David Goyer pitting Jack in the ring against Wildcat is better, a taut ten page revelatory conversation nicely drawn by David Ross.
Moving further up the quality scale, we’re given a glimpse of the Starman legacy as the Starman of the 853rd century drops back to 1999. Robinson’s plot may have to tie-in with a company-wide crossover, but it’s thoughtful, surprising and well worth reading, and illustrated by Peter Snejbjerg, so more in keeping with the remainder of the book.
Let it be said that Snejbjerg’s great throughout, but we have Prodigal Son syndrome here. Any art by Craig Hamilton is worth celebrating, and he’s more in keeping with Harris’ original decorative vision for the series. Just look at the effort expanded on the segue between the Shade’s home and the local bar, and there are several more like it. Much of the remaining story is told in Hamilton’s Victorian etching style in decoratively framed pages, yet without ever being difficult to read. It looks beautiful and reads well in providing the story of the spaceship in which Jack Knight and Mikaal take to the stars.
This forms the bulk of the book, with the pair on a mission to locate an earlier Starman everyone believes to be dead. That is apart from his sister, Jack’s girlfriend, who has a hunch. The earlier sections are drawn by Steve Yeowell, looking best when he inks his own pencils, before Snejbjerg illustrates the remainder.
Robinson plots the off Earth material with screenwriter David Goyer, and for the most part it’s thoroughly entertaining. The convenience of Jack meeting the great and the good of DC’s off-Earth cast can be forgiven when the results are as good as a trip to the future, or visiting Superman’s father, or constant building of tension to the conclusion. That features several surprises and twists, and the entire trip maintains Robinson’s habit of foreshadowing the events to come via tantalising hints.
The combined price of the paperbacks may be cheaper than this hardback, but you’d miss out on the Hamilton story.