I just finished reading Starman: Grand Guignol for the first time a few days ago, and I have to say, this is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding graphic novels I’ve ever read. I enjoyed it just as much, if not more than, Watchmen and Batman: The Long Halloween.
Starman: Grand Guignol is the twelve issue climax to the entire Starman series (it’s followed by a falling action graphic novel called Sons of the Father). It gives Jack Knight the biggest challenge of his superhero career (of course, fans of Starman all know the greatest challenge of Jack’s life was still to come, when he devotes himself to being a father). Returning to Opal City after an outer space jaunt around Rann and Thanagar, Jack soon finds Opal City in a terrible predicament. All of the city’s villains have teemed up to destroy everything, and to make things worse, The Shade has encased the city in a large bubble that no one can get in or out of (kind of like The Simpsons movie), which means Jack can’t get assistance from the JLA or any of the well-known heroes. Instead, saving Opal is left up to a group of not-so-well known characters who happen to be there at the time, including Mikaal Tomas, Captain Atom, and The Elongated Man (one of the goofiest superhero names in history).
The villains in cahoots include the original Starman’s (Ted Knight’s) arch-nemeses Dr. Phosphorus and The Mist, as well as Solomon Grundy, a miserly dwarf known as Culp, Rag Doll (a human who dresses up like a big rag doll), and The Mist’s daughter, who is also the mother of Jack’s child (I’m not sure how that happened–Jack has no memory of being with her).
Thankfully, the story doesn’t devolve into 12 issues of pure fighting. Instead, James Robinson nicely wraps up the Starman series by including several flashbacks, including a very nice scene paying homage to the wives of the original Golden Age superheroes. There’s even two issues devoted to The Shade’s back story, which also tells of the history of Opal City.
Part of what makes this a stand-out comic is that it revolves around a family chronicle–or several chronicles in this case. It centers on Jack’s relationship with his father Ted, but segues into Jack’s own life as a father. The family history of the other characters is also related, with a subplot involving The Mist’s daughter trying to impress him through violent evil deeds, and the O’Dare family have to come to terms with one of the siblings being a crook.
A majority of the interior art is done by Peter Snejbjerg, and it’s high quality. The covers are by Tony Harris and Alex Robinson.
The graphic novel Starman: Grand Guignol is a pretty good deal, with the retail price set at about $20.00. It’s currently out of print, but I’m guessing that’s because DC’s planning on putting out a more pricey version. Your local comic book shop should have it, or if not that, check out the graphic novel section of Barnes and Noble. I got it from the library.
It’s recommended that you read the other Starman books first, since this book is the conclusion, but not absolutely necessary. I’d certainly recommend all of Starman (although I myself haven’t managed to read all of it).
Read other graphic novel reviews.
If the character of Starman is new to you, then you should read the long post I wrote about him.