March 11, 2009

Adventure Comics #467 [1980]

This issue features the debut of Starman, the last regular feature Ditko would draw for DC. Created and written by Paul Levitz and designed and penciled by Ditko and inked by Romeo Tanghal, the creative team for all 12 chapters of the story.

"First Encounter" sets up the premise of this space opera deftly in its 9 pages, serving as a teaser for the whole series, making sure to at least briefly show all six of the characters who would be regulars and hint at their backgrounds and relationships while still telling a self-contained story (in fact, back when this first came out I started reading the series with the next issue, and it was some years before I finally got this first chapter, and while it's enjoyable the series isn't written so that this chapter is essential). In this story Starman, flying through space unaided by a ship or suit, rescues a distressed spaceship. Boarding it, he's greeted by Lord Oswin, and we see that Oswin has a prisoner, Jediah Rikane, who had been on a mission for the new Empress when he discovered that Oswin was plotting against her. After Oswin tries to keep Starman on the ship by force to discover the secrets of his powers, Starman rescues Jediah and they escape from the ship and go to Starman's home base where they meet his mysterious comrade, the alien Mn'torr.

The story is obviously partly inspired by the then-recent success of STAR WARS, but has enough new or drawn from other common influences. Ditko's design for the main character is very good, obviously similar to his original Captain Atom design, and the other characters are distinctive. Tanghal is solid on the inks, not quite as good as Ditko's own inks on books from the same era, but not losing much of the Ditko flavour.

Ditko also pencils half of the cover, with the other half featuring the other featured star of the issue, Plastic Man, as penciled by Dave Cockrum, with Dick Giordano inking both. It's the only time Ditko's art was on the cover in this run, and unless I'm mistaken the only time Giordano ever inked Ditko.



3 comments:

  1. Another Ditko series I wished they'd reprint (in color, please).

    I wouldn't mind if they included the major post-Levitz/Ditko appearences of Starman.

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  2. Isn't there just the one real post-Ditko story, the Superman team-up in DCCP by Levitz and Jim Starlin, and then the character dies in a cameo in CRISIS? Or did they bring him back later?

    A collection would pretty much have to include the DCCP story, and it's a pretty good conclusion, although I would have loved it if Ditko had drawn that, to see him draw a full Superman story.

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  3. I thought there was a couple of appareances before he died in crisis. I have his teamup with Superman in DCCP.

    They brought him back in the recent 90s Starman series, tying him in to the Will Payton Starman. And he's apparently re-appeared in the Rann-Thanagar Holy War series.

    But I'd prefer to see the pre-Crisis stuff.

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