Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Starman #51

Midnight In The House of El

Story: James Robinson and David Goyer
Words: James Robinson
Pencils: Peter Snejbjerg
Inks: Keith Champagne
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Gregory Wright
Separations: GCW
Editor: Pete Tomasi
Cover: Tony Harris
Cover Date: March 1999
Release Date: 05/09/1999

Lost in space and time, a spacecraft containing Jack Knight, Mikaal Tomas, and a hologram of Ted Knight generated by a Mother Box lands on Krypton in the near past. Upon exiting the ship, the trio are confronted by a large robot, which opens up to reveal a young Jor-El. Jor-El assists the group with re-plotting their course back to the present. Jack finds it hard to focus on the discussions, as he is obsessed with the fact that he is meeting Superman's father. Ted reveals the location of Earth to Jor-El, who is delighted to meet aliens and people from the future all in one. Jack shares the reason for his quest with Jor-El, causing the Kryptonian to compare reproduction on his planet with love on Earth.

The ship is discovered by other Kryptonians, who transport it to the nearest city. Seyg-El, Jor-El's father, splits the three travellers up and interrogates them about their intentions., suspecting them to be connected to the Black Zero terrorist group. Jack is easily able to resist the interrogation, as Seyg-El is rather poor at it (and Jack has had many experiences of watching police drama on television). 

That night, Jor-El breaks his own confinement to free Jack and Mikaal. They go to retrieve Jack's staff and the Mother Box so that they can all escape. Jack holds off Seyg-El's robot guards while the ship escapes the city. Landing outside the city to let Jor-El off, Jack gives him a data disc containing information and the co-ordinates of Earth. They then leave to continue their journey.

I am a big fan of this story. It doesn't matter to me that it's part of a larger narrative, both in terms of the 'Stars My Destination' story-arc, and in the larger story of Robinson's Starman. This is a great look at a young, naive and impressionable Jor-El, which in turn shapes the entire future of the DC Universe.

The tie-ins to World of Krypton and Man of Steel #1 are faithful and respectful. The costumes mirror the Mignola originals, and the image of Earth used by Ted Knight to represent his home is the one still obsessed over by Jor-El in Krypton's dying moments. The Krypton we are shown fits right in as well, a sterile, cold and infertile world where there is almost no direct contact between its inhabitants. In recent years the impression of Krypton given to us in the comics is one of a virtual paradise, and as always it is great to see that Superman's homeworld is a place of flaws and imperfections.

Despite all of this, this is very much a Starman story. Plenty of themes common to the wider Starman series are present. Jack and Ted share a little moment where they find new common ground and learn a little more about each other. All three Starmen react very differently to the interrogation by Seyg-El, taking apart the effectiveness of his questioning with ease but in their own ways. And throughout, Jack's reactions to his unusual situations are wonderful and so well realised, especially the moment where all he can focus on is the fact that he's talking to Superman's father.

Although this is just one part of a sweeping Starman story, it is a story that is well worth thinking of as part 2.5 of World of Krypton, as it fits very neatly into the WoK storyline and requires very little knowledge of the wider Starman story.

The Geeky Bits:

Estimated Diamond Pre-Orders: 28,122
Diamond Sales Chart Position: 84
Best-Selling Comic Of The Month: Uncanny X-Men #366