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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Comic book stuff: Preacher and Starman

I should be rewriting a major story. Instead, I'm going to talk about my latest Comic Discoveries.

I'm going to assume that most folks will be bored. So.

First thing: I love superheroes. I think it's the tights. I also think it's a view of humanity as capable of great nobility.

That said, Preacher and Starman are very different from the general run of comics.

Preacher is the more different, so it's actually easier to talk about. It's...Texas Gothic. There are no superheroes per se, and certainly no tights. What there are are a reluctant minister named Jesse Custer, his girlfriend Tulip and their Irish friend Cassidy.

Except. Tulip is a crack shot and enjoys using her gun. Cassidy is a vampire, which means super strength and he's practically unkillable. Stakes don't work, cutting off his head doesn't work and he has no problems with holy articles. He does have a problem with sunlight, but given one story, even that might not do more than slow him down. He also rarely kills, preferring all but raw meat instead.

And then there's Jesse. Jesse is not a superhero, but he does have a superpower. He has a Voice. He got it when he was joined with Genesis, the child of a demon and an angel, and therefore "something entirely new - half good, half evil." To me, that equals "human being", but hey, what do I know? This Voice makes everyone obey him. He uses it to say "Drop your guns" and your guns hit the ground. He says with it "Count all the grains of sand on the beach" and you do.

Luckily, he's a good man. A very good man. A hero, in fact. Because while he does eventually use the Voice to make life on the road, um, easier, he doesn't use to hurt anyone unless it's in self defense or defense of others. And he doesn't take any sort of power, even though technically he could rule the world. All he wants to do is find God, who has gone walkabout, and has done so since Genesis was born.

The book is brilliant. And beautifully drawn and written. And both sweetly and sickly funny, and full of very bad things done to faces and horrible things and blood and brains and acts of cowardice and heroism and more love than you'd imagine.

It's even slashy. It's altogether lovely.

But Starman.

Starman is something else again. Starman is a superhero, but not of any school I've seen. Or maybe of the oldest school, the school where the superhero wore a top coat and a suit and a hat and a mask. No spandex, no cowls, no capes. Jack Knight doesn't even try to have a secret identity. Everyone in Opal City, which is as much a character as anyone else, knows who he is. And who his father, Ted Knight, the original Starman, is. And his late brother, who wore the mantle, and the costume, for a week before being killed. The costume was maskless, red and green with a hood with a fin on top. And a rod to fly with, and shoot rays out of.

Not Jack. Jack wears whatever he happened to put on that morning, plus a leather jacket and goggles and his rod is longer and has hooks and things. No spandex.

And he didn't want to be a hero. He wanted to deal in "junk" - in the collectibles of times past. He didn't want to fly the skies of Opal City rod in hand. But he does. And he's proud of it and he does it well, and he even has martial arts training to help him along. And he has help. An immortal man who has been both a villain and a reluctant hero; the ghost of a pirate hung for a crime he did not do; a family of cops, one of whom is the reincarnation of a hero from a century before. His father. His father's friends, the superheroes of an older era. The superheroes of this era. And he has his own villains - his own and legacies of his father and their legacies.

And the stories aren't just the current villain. Often, they're not that at all. They're...stories. They have beginnings, middles, ends. The characters are different at the end. They, and we, learn things. The characters have dimension, feelings. They laugh. The do stupid things. They even cry. And scream and misunderstand and love anyway. They feel real.

And when I finish a story, I get the feeling I've read a good short story, and I know I'll read them again, but not right away because I need time to digest.

I like Preacher. I like Jesse and Tulip and Cassidy, and I even like Starr and the angels and Arseface ( a boy who tried to kill himself but only succeeded in blowing away his face and so he looks like, well...) I like their offkilter world and their wonderful relationship and the sick humor. It shows what humans often are, and makes even angels and demons human along the way.

I love Starman. It shows what humans can be and what it shows is good.