Starman #4 (February 1995)

A Day in the Opal



Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Tony Harris
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Letterer: John E. Workman Jr.
Editors: Archie Goodwin, Jim Spivey
Part of: standalone
Reprinted in: Starman: Sins of the Father, The Starman Omnibus, Volume One
Art by Tony Harris, image from the Grand Comics Database

Page One
Panel One – The South American dwellers of the Andes who taught this artist were either Incas or their descendents.
Panel Three – Hawaiian shirts are a commercialised version of the Aloha shirt, using a similar design but modern printing processes on the fabrics. They almost always incorporate bright colours and a cheerful design, often with a floral theme.
Despite the given date here, Hawaiian shirts became popular on Hawaii mostly after 1935, and spread the mainland US after many servicemen discovered them while serving in World War Two.
Harry Ajax has never appeared in any other DC comic.

Page Three
Albert Bekker and his employee, Sands, have also not appeared in any other DC comics.

Pages Four and Five
A two page spread of the Opal, in all her art-deco inspired glory. She is beautiful, is she not?

Page Six
Pez is a small candy that dissolves when placed on the tongue. Pez dispensers are produced in a variety of different models, with thousands of different designs in existence. There is a lively collectors’ market, but as Jack points out, some varieties are so common as to be more or less worthless.
The poster seen over Jack’s shoulder appears to be of Dr Syn, a clergyman turned pirate from a series of novels by Russell Thorndike.

Page Eight
Panel Two – Rachel Foster has never appeared in any other DC comic.
Panel Three – Loneliness is a recurring theme in Starman. I shall write an essay on the subject someday.

Page Nine
Panel One – it’s not fully readable, but I suspect that the word we can’t see all of is Hades.
Alice in Chains is a Seattle band and a graduate of the grunge movement. The name of the band may also serve as a small piece of foreshadowing for Rachel’s fate.
Panel Four – In a story about a shirt that is a portal to Heaven, this poster is its counterpoint, a portal to (a) Hell.

Page Ten
Panel One – This is the first appearance of Damon Merritt and his mysterious poster, although we will not learn his name, or indeed anything much at all about him, for another 13 issues.

Pages Eleven and Twelve
A wonderful cityscape, in both words and pictures. I love the details of the different musics playing, and the names of various geographical features.

Page Thirteen
The Shade returns.

Page Fourteen
Panel Three – the first hints of DC western hero Scalphunter, and his involvement in the history of Opal City.

Page Fifteen
Panel Four – Bergmanesque is an adjective that describes a specific worldview — a bleak psychological chronicle of people living in a world that God has abandoned. It is named for Ingmar Bergman, a Swedish filmmaker best known for “The Seventh Seal” and “Fanny and Alexander”.
Calvin Klein is a fashion brand, which manufactures a variety of clothing.
Panel Five – Felliniesque is an adjective meaning “synonymous with any kind of extravagant, fanciful, even baroque image in the cinema and in art in general” – it is named for Federico Fellini, an Italian filmaker best known for “La Dolce Vita” and “8 1/2”.
“I laugh so I may not weep” is a paraphrase of a line from Lord Byron’s “Don Juan”: ‘And if I laugh at any mortal thing, ‘Tis that I may not weep.’

Page Sixteen
Panel Two – a toy pirate, foreshadowing the role of the Black Pirate in the series.
Panel Three – more details of Scalphunter, although he remains un-named.

Page Seventeen
Panel Four – Bela Lugosi was a Hungarian actor best known as the first man to portray Dracula in a movie with sound, and still the definitive performance of the role today. His other films are less fondly remembered.

Page Eighteen
Panel One – The Shade’s background has never been revealed before now, but it seems he is older than had even been hinted at before now.
Panel Three – Chinatown is one of the all-time great film noir movies, for all that it was made in the seventies. The Two Jakes is the sequel to it, generally less well-regarded.

Page Nineteen
Panel Two – Playboy, Swank and Wink are all the names of softcore porn magazines, of the nudie mag variety.

Page Twenty
Panel One – the picture Jack holds is, of course, of Elvis Presley. The picture of a cartoon character on the right of the panel appears to be of Mickey Rat, a parody of Mickey Mouse.

Page Twenty-One
Panel Two – Citizen Kane is perhaps the most famous of Orson Welles’ films.

Page Twenty-Two
Panel Three – Fred MacMurray is best known for playing the father in the sitcome “My Three Sons”.

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