Special Edition Podcast

Booksplode #1 – The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 1

Show Notes

It’s a big long and heated discussion about the first installment in the new Omnibus series of the James Robinson and Tony Harris masterpiece, Starman. Josh Flanagan, Conor Kilpatrick, and staff writers Sonia Harris and Paul Montgomery discuss the book in depth, and really talk about the things that work and don’t work in the story. Considered by many to be among the best superhero comics ever written, we’ll talk about Jack and Ted Knight, The Mist, the O’Dares and everything that’s great about Opal City.

Running Time: 00:54:43

Order The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 1 from Amazon.com here.

“Minus the Bear”



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  1. Listening now. So glad you guys decided to do this and with such a great book to boot.

  2. Montgomery!!! *shakes fist*    🙂   very much looking forward to listening to this. Thank you for posting it.

  3. It’s in my wishlist, promise. Along with dozens of other books.

  4. I have read Volume 1, but that’s the only Starman I’ve read.  I’m planning to get to Volume 2 soon–will anything on this podcast spoil that for me?  Or is the discussion limited to the events of Volume 1?

  5. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The discussion is limited to volume one. You’re safe!

  6. huzzah.  thanks!  some good listening for a long weekend.

  7. this "booksplode" pleases me. can’t wait for more!

  8. Watching a hero fall from grace with age is far more effective than a rushed death scene, it’d make a nice change but it wont happen.  It’s harder to bring them back from the abyss if they can’t remember where to poop.

    I’ve got to say that as much as I like my wordy books there are some people who use more words than they need to, both in comics and in prose.  I’m all for wordy, well written books that pay great attention to detail however I have read the odd comic that talks a lot without saying very much.

  9. I’m not sure what’s better… hearing Paul come around on Starman or listening to Sonia tell Josh that he’s "reading comics wrong."

    Plus, one of my all-time fave comics is being discussed.

    Could this be the best podcast ever?

  10. hahaha i just saw the PREMIO sausage ad on the side of this! awesome! how did you land that one guys?

  11. Great new podcast guys (what is this your 100th new series? including the murmur stuff)

    Makes me double think about trying this series out.

  12. hey thanks, this clears up alot, definitely gonna pick this up

  13. Good stuff. I can’t wait for the new Bookslodes.

    That Sandman story is in volume two. It’s so good that it caused me to go out and buy Sandman Mystery Theatre.  

  14. I can’t wait to do the second volume of this to talk about "Sand and Stars".  One of my favorite stories of all time.

    But that will be then, and this is now.

  15. I was reading The Vol. 2 omnibus recently, and, yes, "Sand and Stars" is one of the best arcs of that series. Love that one. Related: Sandman Mystery Theatre is also fantastic and worth tracking down. I know they’ve recently released a bunch of the trades.

  16. Okay, we can talk about that one next time…

  17. when’s the next one coming out? huh? huh? when’s the next one?


  18. Not sure yet, but Vol.2 probably isn’t going to be Starman Vol. 2.

    Sometime else… then we’ll come back around.

  19. Can’t wait to re-read this series as it’s my favorite all-time megarun… maybe I should start since I have all 3 on the shelf.

  20. I have the first paperback of this that I got for free about a month ago. havent gotten around to reading it yet. Though it sounds like the first bit isn’t a strong representation of the whole. But it sounds like something I could really enjoy – even though my lack of knowledge concerning JSA/all superheroes except the really big ones makes me wonder if it will just become nonsensical gobbledeegook for me at some points.


    Then again, Wesley Dodds has a little bit in it? I love Wesley Dodds so much >:D 

  21. I read the omnibus a couple weeks ago and suffered through it.  To me the only redeeming quality was the shade and the coloring on the issue where he talks to his brother.  I guess I have that aversion to large word baloons in a big way.  I prefer to be able to read a page in a comic faster than I can from a novel.  I had given up hope for the series after this collection, but I may take a look at it again.  If I can’t find a love for it somehow I can just blame you guys for leading me wrong.

  22. When writing comic books I tend to not put enough words in. I understand that it’s a lot more restricted than writing prose, but I think the fact that you’re breaking everything up into panels forces you to think a lot more economically before you actually write anything down.

    I don’t know if Paul or Josh find this as well, but because you are creating your own comics, you find it a lot harder to get into the flow of a story or connect to a comic, because you are automatically looking at a page and asking yourself about the layouts, the wording, even silly things such as punctuation. I find that happening more the more I do comics.

  23. Sonia just loves to laugh even Ive there noting funny to laugh at

  24. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @s30 – I think that’s true sometimes. Once you start studying the mechanics of anything (films, cars, comics, sports) it can be downright impossible to flip that switch. Used to be a time where I’d check my watch throughout a film, not because I was bored but because I wanted to check the act breaks. These days that’s mostly in the background, a subconscious turning of the gears. With comics, you control the pace, so I think it’s harder to get swept away, which means you look at them with more of a critical eye, analyzing all the choices.

    It goes back to point I was (clumsily) trying to make on the show. If you’re locked in to the same rhythm as the writer, it’s a tandem bike ride. It’s synchronized. But if you’re not in the same headspace, you’re gonna question some of his choices. Robinson takes big risks because his dialogue is so specific. It’s very similar to David Mamet. Read a Mamet play with the wrong inflections, pacing, emphasis, and it’s not going to make a lick of sense. But if you lock in to that rhythm, it’s incredible. It’s the difference between reading the lyrics of a song as standard prose and actually singing the damn song. From awkward to powerful. The more intricate the prose is, the more fragile. 

    Does that make any kind of sense?   

  25. I think that sometimes an economy of words can convey an idea better or more powerfully than using an endless flood of prose.  The message can be lost.  I think it was unfair of Sonia to say that josh should read Archie books just because he thought that Robinson tended to overwrite a little in the begining of Starman.

    I also think is was a bit silly and ignorant of her to suggest that it is impossible to use too many words in a comic because there are as many words as there needs to be.  like it’s impossible to be a less than perfect writer.  More does not equal better Sonia.

  26. Really enjoyed the episode.  Those omnibi are starting to look really nice on the shelf, now that vol 3 is out.  It’s one of my few sources of pride that I read this title from issue 0, when it was the only title that stood out from the mess of Zero Hour.  Going back through these issues now brings back a lot of memories, as this book feels inextricably linked to my late teens early twenties.  One of the most interesting things about these volumes that you didn’t mention was how confessional Robinson’s essays have been.  I heard rumours that there have been times in his life when he’s treated people, shall we say, less than politely, and these prose pieces come over as a really interesting admission of some of his shortcomings as well as interesting looks at the creative process.  Look forward to the next booksplode, whatever it may be.

  27. Avatar photo Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    In talk about the JSA members who have Alzheimer’s, I would like to point out that Johnny Thunder had it.  It wasn’t really played up too much, as it would be very depressing.  But check out the trades FLASH: EMERGENCY STOP to see Jay Garrick talking to a deteriorated Johnny and JSA: STEALING THUNDER for Geoff Johns paying that story off a bit.

  28. Wonderful book, and great music.  <3 MtB.

  29. @snaf00: I realize that Josh is actually writing comics, so his perspective is really different from mine, but I have to admit that I like words, so maybe it’s also just a taste thing. I want to savor my comics, I want them to last a while, sometimes I read them multiple times to slow myself down.

    Sorry if I offended you (or any Archie readers), I was just teasing Josh. He’s a smart, literate bloke, I know that. And yes, I agree, more definitely does not equal better. I’m a huge advocate of quality over quantity in almost all areas of life.

  30. More words isn’t intrinsically better. Less words isn’t intrinsically better. As I said on the show, good words are what counts, whether there are more or there are less of them depends on the story and the writer.

  31. Does this episode spoil anything that happens later in the series? I have only read the first and second ominbus editions.

  32. @mrmister: Read the fifth comment.

  33. SUCH a good idea!! i LOVE it!!

  34. Just got up and now I have a new podcast to listen to, cool.

    "Ifanboys preferred Sausage is" why does that sound so funny to me.

  35. @Paul. I think so, but I was kind of busy analysing the flow of your sentences…

  36. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Har har…

  37. Re: the killind Ragdoll discussion… Sonia stated Wonder Woman was under mind control when she killed Maxwell Lord, and Josh agreed that that was the "out" for her killing him.  ACTUALLY (he says, in best Comic Book Guy voice), Maxwell Lord had Superman under mind control, NOT Wonder Woman. Superman thought Wonder Woman was Brainiac, trying to find Lois and kill her. After she beats Supes in a fight, WW confronts Lord and binds him in her lasso. She asks him how to free Superman; Lord tells her the only way to stop him is to kill him.  She she snaps his neck.

  38. Nerd.

  39. @Jim: From what I’ve read, there’s contention there, since he practically asks her too, and has that subtle mind control power. As it happens I don’t believe she was under mind control either, but it was funnier to cry foul. Have you ever argued with Josh? It’s disturbingly enticing, I can’t seem to stop myself once I get started. It’s even more fun than arguing with Ron.

    @josh: I think the word you’re looking for is "trainspotter" 😉

  40. Great show folks! I don’t have the Omnibus (yet) but I do own all the trades. This series came at the right moment in time for me in the 90’s. In the post-Watchman and post-Dark Knight era, it seemed to me that every superhero at Marvel and DC were getting more "realistic", which superficially translated to more angry and more violent. Don’t get me wrong, I love and respect Watchman and The Dark Knight, but as those two books could be said to have deconstructed the superhero concept, Starman reconstructed the superhero again.  Through Jack Knight, we look backward to the Golden Age, asking ourselves what makes a superhero today? And is that different than being a superhero in the past? Robinson also plays with the generational issues those questions entail, for both the heroes and the villains. In this way, Starman is a precursor to themes explored later in Kingdom Come.  Starman is by no means a perfect series, but like Robinson and Jack’s love of antique ephemera, I now find the flaws and quirkiness endearing and a shining light during the dark-days of 90’s.

  41. Naa jokes Paul my friend. Nice to here your view on that.

  42. Fuck! I spelt hear wrong…

  43. btw, did you guys know around comics did there first book focused podcast about starman omnibus volume one too? freaky, huh? don’t worry, i won’t listen to it…

  44. Do those guys still have a show?  I thought Neseman drank himself to death.  Weird.

  45. @josh: That’s two shows in two straight days you just made offense too.

    Keep up the good work 🙂 *thumbs up*

  46. Great show!

    I enjoy it when Sonia’s on the shows as she’s more confrontational than the rest of you and gets some great debate going. I’m looking forward to more of these. 

  47. This is exactly why I listen to you guys in the first place. I don’t have the omnibii or the traddes and was never really interested in Starman until recently. After hearing your inaugural Booksplode episode I want it in my hands now. Your dissection of the first book really makes me want to read it just to pick out similar themes that I never thought would’ve been in the book. I was along the same line as Conor back in the 90’s where my tastes in comics leaned heavily on the capes and cowls and I hated all the trendy wanna-bes who thought it was cool to read comics at the time or to be disinterested anything that had more than one fan. I’m not a fan of insincere, disingenuous people. And to think that this superhero book takes you back to fully embracing a love for that golden age superhero was something I totally missed out on the first time around.

    I’m starting to warm to Sonia Harris’ role in the group dynamic. She definitely plays the devil’s advocate and her teasing made for some of the best discussion I’ve heard from you guys in a long while. I agree with Conor’s comments that it’s the quality of the words that make the read worth while. I don’t think that the reader has to be completely subordinate to the indulgences of a writer in any format, comics or prose. It does happen a lot with beginners and sometimes people don’t learn from their mistakes. I’m talking to you, Todd McFarlane. But, in the end what serves the story should be the most important thing.

    Thanks for a great first episode. I have a question, though. Is it possible to start announcing the books you guys will be discussing in the next episode? 

  48. More great content! thanks iFanboy. Gotta love Sonia as well.

  49. Drats, now I feel like I need to bite the bullet and check out these omnibuses that keep coming out.

  50. @josh. Hahaha. It’s funny cause it’s true…

  51. Does anyone else realize I use a lot of ellipses in my comments? Maybe it’s just me being self concious…

  52. There I go again! Wierd…

  53. i tend to trail off as well…

  54. I agree w/ what Josh was saying. The word balloons have to work with/compete with the art. Your eye sometimes darts back and forth between the two and when the words are in a large, wall of text style balloon vs smaller, separate balloons, you can easily lose your place.

    I don’t remember if this is the problem in Starman (I read the 1st trade a while back, so I don’t remember that specifically), but it’s one thing I can understand being an issue with… an issue.

    Oh, and you guys should make an intro of a book exploding (perhaps the fluttering of pages followed by the explosion sound for the audio podcast) with a loud, booming voice yelling, "BOOKSPLODE!!" followed by a guitar solo.

  55. What a fantastic surprise to open up iTunes after the holiday to find "Booksplode: Starman Omnibus 1" listed.  I had no idea this was coming out.  Starman’s one of my fave all-time series, and you did it justice.

    I didn’t hear his name during your discussion, so I’ll point out that Matt Smith did the art for the Ragdoll issue, #11.  I had thought of him as a Mignola knockoff, but this Starman story, followed by (ironically enough) stints on Hellboy and BPRD among others, convinced me that Smith is quite talented in his own right.  Anyway, I thought Smith deserved props for this issue, and I just want to rectify that omission.

    And I will risk electronic injury by disagreeing with Sonia:  Yes, sometimes there can be too many words.  For example, the post you are now reading.

    Thanks for Booksplode.  Looking forward to the next.

  56. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    We do credit Matt Smith, but it demands repeating. The issue was gorgeous. 

  57. Which episode was the Robinson interview? 

  58. I think it was this one:


    Try somewhere near the 23:00 mark.

  59. That’s the one.

  60. I believe my most favorite moment in this one is the thugs arguing over sondhiems best musicals.

  61. Fun Fact: Michael Chabon wrote an archie storie

  62. Well I went and got the omni and have since read it and listened to the show.  I thought the book was great and the show was fun too.  My favorite thing in the book is the layout of time, which yall talked about.  I love the foreshadowing of things he has planned years down the road, it makes everything thats happening feel a lot more important.

    Also the Shade (who I’d only known from a Green Arrow issue or two beforehand) is the most interesting  character in the book.  I love how he continues to play everyone else in the book, giving Jack warnings of demon posters, alluding to greater threats, and of course giving Jack a journal of his adventures to pour through.

     Great stuff and I’ll be picking up the 2nd omnibus soon.

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