January 31, 2007

The Ballad of Danny Blaine

I have to admit, my mind is still reeling a bit from the end of Justice Society of America # 2 - not because of the recap of Kingdom Come (which, quite frankly, has been referenced in most DC books for years), but because it resonates with one of my all-time favorite comics...and shows something of a lost opportunity for DC Comics.

We first meet our future Starman as a boy- a member of the Legion of Super Heroes, on an adventure with then-current Starman Jack Knight in the future. Jack, at the request of the woman he loves, is on a quest to learn the whereabouts of his predecessor, Will Payton. (One of the things I miss about James Robinson's Starman - it was able to delicately weave continuity into a coherent story, rather than feel the need to "reboot" the universe). In a discussion, Thom Kallor (or "Star Boy") learns that he is destined to be the Starman of the future...and is shocked. Imagine, a teenage/young adult male learning that not only is he part of history...but he is aware of how he is going to die. (This, I think, explains the "Danny Blaine" identity - it serves as an untraceable identity with no real links. Perfect for spoiling the plans of those villians who could travel in time and "prevent" Starman from happening).

But ultimately, we get our grasp of the future Starman in the final issues of the Jack Knight series. The Sons of the Father Sons of the Father trade paperback should be required learning for how to end a series - there are resolutions, revelations, and an overall sense of finality. However, when we meet Mr. Blaine, he reveals that his life has been all the richer, because he's led "two lives". Mr. Blaine (or Mr. Kallor) has returned Jack to his home time, and is off to die. His face, once he removes the mask, is scarred, his hair gray, but in essence, we see that he has fought the good fight - unlike Jack (who gets a happy ending), Danny Blaine will go off to...Armageddon.

I also have to admit that I am a little disappointed that DC chose to open the multiversal can of worms and not go with the post-Infinite Crisis Starboy-as-Starman. I can understand why, but in a way, it's a shame, especially with the way in which DC has pledged to be more "diverse". Just think of the storytelling possibilities - a man who is considered "just another" in the future goes back to a more barbaric past willingly, and who does not understand the dynamics that drive 21st century earth. Imagine conflicts with Courtney Whitmore - after all, she was given the "official" blessing from Jack Knight, and here is some unknown stranger taking over - imagine the dynamics. Yes, it would have the fanboys screaming, "But he's been portrayed as Caucasian in the past!", but what's more important - good stories that have resonance with our present, or an almost fanatical devotion to the past?

(And plus, there is precedent - having Captain Marvel, a boy-in-adult's-clothing, courting Stargirl very early on...where was the outrage? Yes, they broke up. All is well).

Maybe it's my current mood of letting go of the past, and moving back to my home city...but there's something about this new Starman that seems to have potential. I think I'll hang around awhile.

And don't forget - today is National Gorilla Suit Day.

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