Here’s a formula for comic book success. First, create a good character. He doesn’t need to be great, just good. Secondly, write a few series worth of stories on him, let him permeate the comic book world consciousness. When he’s hit a suitable level of fame, it is time to ramp things up a bit, time to capitalise on the rising popularity of the character you created. If you want to take it to the next level, here’s what you do; write an origin story.
We’ve seen it loads of times. In our last post about the best Wolverine graphic novels, out of the six books picked three of them were origin stories, going backwards into the character's roots rather than taking his story forwards. And there’s a good reason this is such a successful move to make – if you create an interesting enough character, your readers will want to know actually what made him or her so damn interesting.
Number 79 in our list is an origin story. It is the backstory of Starman, or technically, the son of the original Starman. Sins of the Father is about Jack Knight, the son of first Starman Ted Knight, and it charts his journey as he gradually takes up his father’s mantle and becomes a superhero. In Sins of the Father, writer James Robinson took the risk of completely reinventing an established character, and the critical acclaim his series earned has proven it to be a good gamble.
It is Robinson’s writing that stands out in this book. It isn’t there merely as a cup holder to put some flashy illustrations in; without the writing, this story doesn’t work. For me, Sins of the Father was a welcome escape from a slew of clichés and rehashes that I had been reading at the time. It was the first graphic novel in a long while that surprised me and made it so I absolutely had to read on. If you’re a fan of great writing, buy this book. If you have friends who call your comic hobby juvenile, buy this book and loan it to them. If this doesn’t sway their opinion, I’m not sure what can. Their loss.
Read Starman on Amazon: UK Readers US Readers