Sunday, August 7, 2011

DC Comics Reboot-Silver Age Starman

There has been much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over DC Comic’s decision to reboot their entire line of comics, restarting with number one on all titles. Yes, Superman, Batman and all the rest of them are starting over, from day one, now. No back-story, no history. However, I’m sure Superman will be from Krypton, Batman will live in Gotham City etc. Of course this isn’t the first time the DC Universe has been restarted; In the late 1980’s, after Crisis on Infinite Earths erased 50 years of continuity, Superman and Wonder Woman started from scratch, other characters were revamped, often drastically. However, the most important reboot occurred in the 1950s, when new versions of Golden Age heroes appeared in the pages of DC Comics. After concentrating mostly on Westerns, Romance, Detective, Military, and Pirate comics, editor Julius Schwartz felt 1957 was the right time to bring back superheroes, but DC played it safe, creating new characters for a new age that had names that hearkened back to the Golden Age. The first of these new heroes was Starman.
The new Starman was astronomer Ray Nelson, who had crafted a device, the Cosmic Converter, capable of harnessing the power of the stars, only, he taps into something else, too; it’s something alien he must learn to control. It’s all told in Showcase # 11, written by Gardner Fox. The cover is by the incomparable Wally Wood.  The editor took no chances that buyers would be confused; this was, according to the cover, the best comic book you could buy! The marketing ploy worked, this was a top selling comic!  After all, see how Starman easily decks Batman with a Star-Burst and shoves Superman away using Red Sun energy! The editors were putting the slow selling Batman and Superman on notice; sell more copies or get canceled! The arrival of Starman signaled the beginning of The Silver Age. After this million-dollar debut he had a long and storied history eventually gaining a sidekick, Starman Jr. Perhaps someday I’ll cover their careers, but next time, I’ll discuss Silver Age Hour-Man. 

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