Thursday, October 18, 2018

Reboot: Starman #50

Starman (v2) #50 (February 1999)
title: "Lighting the Way: Then, Now and Yet To Be!"
writers: James Robinson and David S. Goyer
penciller: Peter Snejbjerg
inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger and Keith Champagne
lettering: Bill Oakley
colorists: John Kalisz and Graphic Colorworks
assistant editor: Peter Tomasi
editor: Archie Goodwin
cover: Tony Harris
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Star Boy, Umbra

Atmos, Insect Queen, Shade, Starman (Mother Box hologram of Ted Knight), Starman (Mikaal Tomas), Starman (Jack Knight); Science Police, Xanthusians

Dark Colossus, Shadow Wraiths

When Starman Jack Knight, Starman Mikaal Tomas, and the Mother Box holographically posing as Starman Ted Knight went into space looking for Starman Will Payton, their ship got sucked into a black hole and popped out in 2998...

The Starmen's ship has appeared in Xanthu's vicinity and been immediately impounded by Star Boy, Umbra, and the Science Police. The Legionnaires recognize the heroes from the previous Millennium and both groups agree to work together to stop the "Dark Colossus", a shadowy space anomaly that has been devouring Star Boy's homeworld of Xanthu.
Of the planet's defenders, the Amazers, only Atmos has made it out and he's in bad shape. The heroes enter the darkness and move towards its center, fighting shadow wraiths, for eight days. There, they find the body of former JSA villain/friend of Jack Knight's, the Shade, the darkness emanating from his body. Wondering if they must kill him, the Shade breaks the silence by telling Jack to impale him with his cosmic staff. He's right. It doesn't kill him, but rather cures him of an illness seeded there by a 20th-Century villain. Xanthu is saved, and everyone affected by the darkness is said to recover.
Though Star Boy is pretty adamant no one tell the 20th-Century heroes about their futures, the Shade has no such scruples. In fact, he reveals he was the one who used his powers to draw the Starmen to the future, and that he knew to do so because Thom would one day go to the past, become the next Starman, and tell him about this adventure so he can make it happen! Thom is shaken by this revelation, as he doesn't want that destiny. Jack tells him he'll try to prevent the Shade's illness back in the past as to derail this entire future, but only time will tell. The Shade sends the heroes back into the past leaving Star Boy to ponder his fate...
I'm going it alone this week to cover a side-story while Shotgun is on a business trip, and it really shouldn't matter to her enjoyment of the Reboot era to miss this one. That is to say that despite James Robinson's attempt to connect all the Star[men] into a coherent legacy, by the time Thom is ready to be Starman, the timeline will have been Threebooted and Retrobooted. He gets his wish, this won't be his personal fate. Further, the Amazers make it out alive though I honestly thought for a minute that some would die outside a Legion book. But no. The connections Robinson makes between the 20th and 30th Centuries are all interesting - like Mikaal being a Talokian - but none of that is important to the Reboot Legion reader in the long run.
Which isn't to say this isn't pretty great. Starman (v2) was one of 90s superhero comics' highlights, and while I think its best days were behind it by the 50th double-sized issue, this tale still managed to impress. Jack Knight was always an unwilling hero - as is Mikaal here - and it's a theme carried over to Star Boy who, though a very willing hero, does not want his destiny to be that of a 21st-Century hero. And while a lot of Starman stories can seem talky and literate, this one is still action-packed. The heroes involved are all important to the mission's success, the stakes are high, and the action moments explosive. Plus, who doesn't love temporal paradoxes and how charmingly casual the Shade is about them?
Definitely a Starman story, but for the Legion fan, I think it does the job too. More than glorified guest stars, the two chosen have a real link to the book that features them (with Umbra the stand-in for the Shade, even if her historical bond is to Mikaal's), and it's Star Boy's homeworld that's in danger (as opposed to Earth). They are not subservient to the Starmen, with Thom having at least one great moment when he doesn't want to leave Insect Queen to the darkness, and of course, his dread at the end. Though it won't all connect in the end, I do think it leaves Legion history richer than poorer.
Science Police Notes:  
  • The Legionnaires involved appear at the very end of Starman (v2) #49, leading into this issue.
  • Though Star Boy being part of the Starman legacy is obvious, this issues draws a link between the blue-skinned Starman Mikaal Tomas and Umbra/Shadow Lass, making him native of Talok III, from which the people of Talok VIII are a colony. He is meant to return to Talok VIII in 2021 and become Shadow Champion.
  • Umbra mentions Mikaal is a member of the Thirteenth Tribe of Taloks, a reference to Battlestar Galactica, in which Earth is the Thirteenth Tribe of Man.
  • The cosmic energy discovered and harnessed by Ted Knight is what allowed humanity to go out among the stars.
  • The Shade survives at least to the end of the 30th Century.
  • Star Boy is fated to become the next Starman after Jack Knight, returning to the 21st Century to do so, presumably becoming the Starman of Kingdom Come. This does happen, though with a different Thom Kallor (the Retroboot's).
  • Radion is mentioned but not seen.
  • Jack Knight remembers Ferro and the time part of the Legion spent in the 20th Century.
  • The cliffhanger involved the Starman crew being sent back to Krypton in 1922.

The future of Star Boy as the next Starman is laid out, though the various Legion reboots may have something to say about exactly who Star Boy will be.


  1. LOVED the Starman series, hated Thom being connected to it.

    1. That's kind of like my problem. Love Starman, HATE Robinson. And Tony Harris.