(Here there be spoilers. You have been warned).
James Robinson, at times, can be a frustrating writer. His Starman is one of my all time favorite series....yet he did such a poor job adapting Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a motion picture. Much of his work on the Superman books is OK, but his work on Justice League: Cry for Justice was somewhat overwrought.
So I approached the upcoming "Blackest Night" crossover with very mixed feelings - I did not expect a full-on return of his past strengths, but given my mixed feelings about the previous tie-ins...it made me a little tentative.
Blackest Night: Starman # 81 isn't completely horrible, but is an ok done-in-one issue that plays to some of Robinson's strengths.
First, I just want to say - I so totally called this one. I am proud of my ability to predict which Starman took center stage.
But more importantly, this issue focuses on the Hope O'Dare/Shade relationship, which has gone beyond the "I'm going to ask the Shade out on a date!" announcement in Starman # 80. It pretty much, as the English say, does what it says on the tin - David Knight comes back, taunts the Shade and O'Dare (who are both having "issues", as they say), and it all ends on a relatively positive note.
But what strikes me about this is that, even though he hasn't written about Opal City, Robinson does play up to some of his strengths - we find Opal a slightly darker place (what with the death of the Dibnys, Black Condor, and Bobo Benetti leaving town), making it ripe for David's "return". In addition, I am glad that Robinson chose not to bring back Ted (although he may be active in the Blackest Night: JSA mini-series) - David seems a much more appropriate choice for antagonist, as his character would seem to have much more to "resent". (OK, yes, I know, he get a kind of "happy ending" towards the end of the series)
Despite the mixed bag, Starman # 81 was, for me, a good opportunity to indulge in a little nostalgia for a great, sorely missed series.
If you liked Robinson's Starman, it's a must-buy, but for everyone else, consider reading the series in trade or via Omnibus. It will make this issue much more understandable.