Saturday, June 7, 2008

Batman/Hellboy/Starman


I love James Robinson's
Starman. I didn't think I would, considering it's a niche of Golden Age love letters and purple prose. But as the series went on, and Jack Knight, the seventh Starman, became more and more of a three dimensional character that changed and grew, I fell in love. There was also the skill that Robinson brought to the table, a skill with which he crafted an eighty issue continuous story. I think it's the reveal of the mysterious 1950's Starman to Jack Knight is when I fell madly in love with it, considering that reveal had been set up sixty issues previously. I have the complete series, lacking only The Shade mini-series and the two issue mini-series Batman/Hellboy/Starman, written by Robinson and drawn by Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy). I finally got my chance to read this mini-series, and what do I think?

We open with Batman chasing the Joker through the dark moody streets of Gotham, but when the Joker gets away, Batman suspects he's planning something huge. Later, he meets with Ted Knight, the first Starman, who's giving a talk in Gotham about alternative energy, but during the speech, some magical Nazis burst in and kidnap him. This causes the BPRD to send Hellboy to Gotham to help the Dark Knight with some detective work.

After some sniffing around and some weird tough guy banter, Batman and Hellboy stumble across a private airfield where Ted Knight is being carted off. They attack and during the confusion, the plane leaves. Batman and Hellboy decide to chase after it into the Amazonian jungle, but the Joker's masterplan comes to fruition and Batman can't leave. Enter Jack Knight, the seventh Starman.

So Jack and Hellboy take a Bruce Wayne plane to South America, and invade the secret Nazi lair, where they're trying to bring an Elder God into this world. Ted Knight was kidnapped so he could help with the science aspect of the mysterious magic. Anyway, they release the elder Starman and fight the Elder God, and explode a bunch of magic Nazis. Jack Knight, himself, fends off the Elder God for a bit while Hellboy recites a Lemurian prayer or something like that. So they defeat it and then the Batplane shows up to pick them all up. The end.


Uh.... what the hellmanf*%&? I don't understand why Batman and Starman couldn't have played in the Hellboy-Nazi-smashin' sandbox together? I was super disappointed that Batman exits on page one of issue 2. I was okay with Jack Knight entering on the final page of issue 1, because I'm patient enough to deal with set-up. But there was no set-up. This could have simply been a Batman-Hellboy team-up or a Starman-Hellboy team-up. Either character was inconsequential to the plot.

The dialogue was fine for Jack Knight, but Hellboy wasn't really all that sardonic like he is when written by Mignola. As well, Batman was too tough guy for me, example: "Morty wasn't a hard nut to crack. One look at you and he was as good as shelled". Really? Really? How could my eyes not roll at that?

Of course the art is okay; I'm not really a fan of Mignola, but it's just that he's not to my taste. If he is, then this is probably really good art. I don't know.

As well, I have to say that plot was pretty worn. Now, I'm a big fan of the genre of Nazi-smashin'. There's no better villain than a good ole fashioned Nazi. But Nazi trying to bring an Elder God back? It seems tame by Hellboy standards. It's also the plot of the first Hellboy movie, so yawn.

I don't know. This mini-series wasn't all that great, but I think I just expected so much more from it considering my love for Robinson. I guess you can't win every time. I'd recommend this for fans of Hellboy mostly. Fans of Starman are generally collectors and completists so they'd have this already. Batman fans are just going to be confused and uninterested.

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