Wednesday, 13 August 2008

An Open Letter To Jim Starlin

Dear Jim

I feel I should admit right at the start that I'm not a huge fan of yours. Please don't take that as an insult - I'm certainly not saying that I dislike your work. I'm simply saying that I don't rush out to buy everything you write just because it's you. I do, however, for the most part enjoy the comics that I have read by you: Cosmic Odyssey, for example, worked a treat, perhaps less so with regards the revelation that the Anti-Life Equation was actually a living being, but it had a lasting effect on John Stewart. It provided a change in character and motivation that affected Stewart for years to come and was a palpable alteration to a company owned character, something that doesn't happen often.

Let's not forget A Death In The Family, either, where (admittedly at the behest of the voting public) you killed off the second Robin, Jason Todd, unleashing years of an even more angst ridden Batman than normal. Jason remained deader than Barry Allen's Flash for a long time until Superboy-Prime punched a wall between realities (or something) and POW! he was back in action. Not your fault, I know, it's just the nature of comics. At least Allen's Flash is still . . . oh, hang on . . .

More recently, Mystery In Space which featured Captain Comet along with another creation of yours, The Weird, was very good, a mixture of religion and politics in space.

The Death Of The New Gods miniseries didn't really do much for me, I have to admit, and the fact that it's been ignored by Final Crisis is something that I can get along with, even though it irks the continuity concious fanboy within me.

And now you're writing the Rann-Thanagar Holy War series which revisits some of the characters you were dealing with in Mystery In Space and which, so far, has been pretty good.

Which brings me to the reason I'm writing this letter, Jim.

Last week's Rann-Thanagar Holy War Hawkman Special focused on one of my favourite characters, Hawkman. As I'm sure you're aware, for a long time Hawkman was persona non gratis in the DCU simply due to the convoluted nature of his origin. One minute he's archaeologist Carter Hall; the next he's the reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian Prince Khufu; the next he's Katar Hol, a Thanagarian wingman; the next he's Fel Andar, a Thanagarian spy who's been pretending to be Katar Hol; the next he's some sort of avatar-cum-uber Hawkgod with elements of all his previous iterations. Let's be honest, even in the world of comics where origin stories can be re-written at the drop of a hat, Hawkman's was a mess.

Then along came Geoff Johns and his run on JSA and with an ease that was deceptive, he seemed to pull together all the relevant strands of Hawkman's past. Carter Hall was the reincarnation of Khufu who had discovered a crashed Thanagarian ship back in ancient Egypt; the Thanagarian spy was returned to Thanagar; Hall returned and has been hitting people with his mace ever since.

After that, Johns' handling of Power Girl's origin was a piece of cake.

But with the Rann-Thanagar Holy War Hawkman Special, Jim, you seem in danger of throwing all that out of the window. What on Earth has possessed you to decide that the whole reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince aspect is now a complete fabrication? That it never happened? You're running the risk of affecting the origins of not only Hawkman but also Hawkgirl and the various incarnations of Hath-Set that have troubled them over the years. And referring to Hawkman as Katar Hol, the name of the Thanagarian version of the character? Is the whole Carter Hall identity no longer valid and if so, how is that going to affect the character in Justice Society Of America?

I hope you have answers to these issues, Jim, and that they're good ones, quite frankly. Otherwise the DCU is at risk of losing a great character to comic limbo once more, a fate he certainly doesn't deserve.

I look forward to the resolution of the Rann-Thanagar Holy War series with more than a little trepidation, but with a large amount of hope as well.

With fond regards,



  1. Starlin did that? Really? And DC let him? Despite the fact that it makes no freakin' sense? Does no one there even remember what a mess Hawkman was less than a decade ago? Man, I've never really liked Starlin's writing, but if he did this, I absolutely hate it.

  2. I was not a fan of the "every reincarnation ends in tragedy for our two star-crossed lovers" part of Geoff Johns' Hawkman story (it didn't even match the only reincarnation known about up til then - the Halls fell in love, defeated Hath-Set, and stayed married for much longer than most couples), but otherwise I thought he did a very respectable job. Why DC would want to throw it out - or avert their editorial eyes while Starlin does - is beyond me.

    The JSA have gone into the past and met Khufu. The latest issue of Trinity has Hawkman using artifacts from ancient Egypt that are laced with N-metal. Declaring "everything you know is wrong" at this point throws so many accepted parts of history out - with nothing clear to replace them - that it recreates the post-CoIE mess.

    Add to that that the Starlin origin seems to be tied to the pre-CoIE multiverse, and includes five other characters, and you're just begging for a continuity implosion. Can't they wait at least a year or two after a Crisis before making everything murky and confusing?


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