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by Russell Burlingame

Written by James Robinson
Pencils by Tony Harris and others

Every month, James Robinson sets about his magic in Starman. I'm one of those people who prefer the traditional superhero to the plainclothes vigilante with a fantasy background, but Jack (Starman) Knight has managed to captivate even me.
The son of the original Starman, Jack inherited the mantle after Zero Hour when his father became too old to carry on, and after the #0 issue of the title when Jack's brother David (who wanted the job in the first place) was shot to death. What we now have is an everyman…a hero who doesn't necessarily want to run around the world in spandex, but has inherited the power of Starman and is now expected to act in a way worthy of his father.
The book is dark, painting Opal City into almost another Gotham, and the monthly pencils are a joy that only add to that feeling. The stories are original and involved, and it seems imperceptible that any self-respecting fanboy could read this great, original series and not enjoy it. Besides the easy-to-spot stuff like basic storylines and artwork, the character development in this book is great, including some really fun trips to the realm of the dead and cameos by characters alive and dead including Wesley (Sandman) Dodds, Ted Knight (the original Sandman, Jack's father) and David Knight (Jack's brother, who died in the Zero Issue). You might be able to see anyone, being that Jack is traveling not only anywhere in the world where Sandman is needed, but also anywhere in the realms of reality. What comes from that is a well-done book that impresses every month.
Check it out!

My vote: 8 out of 10

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GL Secret Files #1 Green Lantern Secret Files #1
Written by Ron Marz

What a waste of pages.

The GL Secret Files book that was released last month really didn't impress me, but there was a reason for it; it was literally a waste of pages.

The super-sized, $4.95 special contained maybe 15 pages of real story, and then a bunch of the "Secret Files" on the characters. The only problem is that all of the story revolved around the stuff that you later found in the Secret Files. The obvious result is that you read everything twice (plus a timeline at the end), and come away not really knowing much.

While the revelation that Ganthet had offered someone else the ring first added a lot to Marz's continuity (he's always being criticized for "just giving it to the first guy he saw"), it seems that you could have mentioned that in a regular GL issue, or added more substance to the story. Essentially what you get is a recap of what's happened in GL history, packaged with a bunch of profiles telling you what's happened to each GL character throughout said history, and then a timeline recapping said history, just in case you missed it the first two times. Certainly it's a good story, but it's not worth $4.95. I mean, if nothing else, you can buy an old copy of Green Lantern #55 (which is still selling for cover price of $1.95 last I knew), and read that. It's got everything up to "Zero Hour," and there's not really all that much more covered in the Secret Files.

The problem is that since then, there hasn't been anything interesting or exciting happening in Green Lantern. The only time a story has been important enough to write has been when Hal Jordan showed up…and he was (for the most part) a VILLAIN! It's kind of like the early '90s, when nobody bought (dare I say it?) "Spider-Man" unless Venom was appearing. And it's not like Marz can go back before then and re-cap previous events, because Hal Jordan went mad and so essentially, the readers who want to hear about Kyle don't WANT to read Pre-Rayner Era history.

However, the book did have its highlights; Hal's secret identity was protected by Kyle, as Green Lantern apparently continued his irrational attraction to any crisis involving Carol Ferris and Tom Kalmaku. This was revealed in a story that took place while Hal was gone in space, and "Zero Hour" hadn't happened yet. That was clever, and the implication that Jade and Kyle may be getting together was a nice clue to those of us who may have missed a few issues (I was disappointed that one of their makeshift "Who's Who"s wasn't Donna Troy; I had to read recent issues to find out what happened between her and Kyle). Generally, though, it would have been even better thrown haphazardly into an issue or two of GL's monthly. I missed out on a couple of my other monthlies to pick up this 5-dollar supersize, and I wasn't entirely happy with what came out of it. But if you need a continuity guide, this is it!

My vote: 4 out of 10

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All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © July, 1998 by Russell Burlingame.
The scanned covers are © July, 1998 DC Comics.