Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jim Starlin

There is much to recommend about a Midwest winter.

Granted, snow and extreme cold might not be your bag but consider what those meteorological events might cause as a side effect.  A lot of time indoors.  A lot of time spent with comic books and science fiction.  That's what got my brother and I through many a season.

So I don't know if it's the snow that so recently fell or the fact that it will be six degrees tonight (as Ahab says, "That's not a temperature...that's a shoe size!") but I've chosen to devote a series of future blog posts to comic books with a science fiction bent to them.  I know that I've done a few posts of this nature before but this time around, I want the posts to focus on individual titles and devote the writing time to them that I did not afford earlier.  I thought that I would kick off the series with post about my favorite writer in the science fiction genre of comic books.

Jim Starlin has been in the comic book industry for quite a while now both as an artist and a writer.  While he has written characters in almost every milieu, Starlin is best known for sweeping epics of space opera and characters with cosmic-level powers.  That alone is enough to draw me in but Starlin has an added dimension to his work that truly resonates with me in that his stories often deal with religion and spirituality.

What is God?  Or what defines "a god?"  When a character has massive power, what are the responsibilities and choices with this power?  We saw a considerable amount of this in his pivotal, dare I say, masterpiece work with Adam Warlock for Marvel Comics.  Warlock...and I will blog about this character and storyline in greater detail in the future...was a powerful messiah figure who was prone to existential crisis.  This character went on to play an integral role in Starlin's three sprawling miniseries of Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, and Infinity Crusade.  An interesting aside to that last miniseries, the dramatis personae was split between those with faith and those without.  While I'm not certain exactly how well it sold, this was certainly my favorite series of the three.  Thematically, anyway.

Starlin's other major accomplishment was the revitalization of Captain Marvel, culminating in his landmark graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel.  By working through Captain Marvel, Starlin established what essentially became the cosmology of the Marvel Universe and it stands to this day.  Again, this character and his title will get his own treatment on the blog, so suffice it to say for now that in my humble opinion, Captain Marvel can stand shoulder to shoulder with Marvel's other science fiction characters such as Warlock and Silver Surfer.  Starlin also created the character of Dreadstar for Marvel offshoot line of Epic Comics.

Over at DC Comics, Starlin was responsible for co-creating the Superman villain, Mongul, a character that plagued The Man of Steel on numerous occasions.  Starlin also created Hardcore Station (no, it isn't porn) and wrote characters such as Adam Strange and the alate Hawkman.  Both characters will...you guessed it...get their own blog posts.

To be fair, Starlin has written and drawn several other characters and books, including a stint on Batman that featured the now infamous four-part storyline, "A Death in the Family."  But for my money, nobody does a space epic like Jim Starlin.  It's not just entertaining stories, it's engaging fiction.  He's going to challenge you to think as you read, maybe even rattle a few of your beliefs and cause you to reconsider them or at the very least examine them more closely.  That, in any medium, is the mark of a good writer.

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  1. Did you ever read Starlin's Kid Kosmos? It was fun stuff.

  2. No I haven't. I'll need to check that out, thanks!


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