Pick of the Week

January 5, 2011 – Starman/Congorilla #1

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.1
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 13.1%
Users who pulled this comic:
Cover by GENE HA

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

Sometimes the Pick of the Week sneaks up on you and picks you, which is clearly the explanation today as you join me in this bizarre kickoff to 2011, wondering just how in the heck did I just pick Starman/Congorilla #1 by James Robinson and Brett Booth?

You see, I had no intention of even buying this issue. I didn’t even know it was being published. I knew DC Comics was doing some sort of event like thing this week (month?) with their covers, focusing on a character and their logo. I didn’t see this book in the shipping list this week, I guess I just skimmed over it. But when I got to the comic book store today and scanned the racks, I noticed a cover with a logo I didn’t recognize (because, let’s be honest, it’s not really a logo, rather two logos (which is already being generous, because did you know these characters even had logos? I didn’t), merged together to form one), which looked like a C around a Star. I then noticed (nearly as prominently as the book’s actual logo) the Gene Ha art credit on the cover and I picked it up to investigate.

Starman/Congorilla #1? Really?”

Those were the exact words that came out of my mouth. Never in a million years did I think that the book I was holding in my hands would ever even exist. The act of taking these two characters, who were recently brought back to the forefront by writer James Robinson in the now legendary (for a myriad of reasons) Cry For Justice mini-series and then most recently added to the ranks of the Justice League of America, and putting them into a book together seemed… unlikely. Not that they’re bad characters, not at all in fact. It just seemed… unlikely. But this is one of those wacky DC fifth week event month type things, and that’s when the unlikely happens, so I shrugged and opened the book.

“Brett Booth? The art’s by Brett Booth?”

Those were the next words out of my mouth. You see, and some of you may be aware of this fact, I have an inexplicable appreciation for Brett Booth. Don’t ask me why. I can’t explain it, at all. It goes back to the heyday of the mid-1990s when Booth was working at Wildstorm, most notably on the Backlash series. For some reason I just liked his art. His style was a weird amalgam of Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell and Todd McFarlane, it was any teenager boy in the 1990s dream and I ate it, hook line and sinker. Since then, every few years, I come across one of his books, and buy it eagerly, hoping to relive those happier, halcyon days of less critical comic book enjoyment.

So with that feeling behind me, I added Starman/Congorilla #1 to my stack for this week, and promptly read it. And then a funny thing happened. I liked it… a lot.

Let me say this: If DC Comics were to start publishing a Starman/Congorilla ongoing series based on this one issue, I would happily subscribe to it and buy every issue.

I know, right? I’m shocking myself! So what was it that made me enjoy this comic book so much. Is this some sort of devious, ironic enjoyment sort of thing that hip/in the know people like me often do? No, not at all. I enjoyed this comic, 100% sincerely and here’s why…

First, James Robinson clearly admires these characters. I’ve been reading Justice League of America, which has been a challenging read as of late. I don’t know if it’s because there’s too many characters or too much going on, but something has been missing from that book. If you go back to a year ago with the Blackest Night tie-in issue of Starman, we got treated to Robinson doing what he does best, writing characters that he admires and knows really well. This issue focuses on Starman and Congorilla in a way that cannot happen in the pages of Justice League of America because of the large cast. There is a rhythm and cadence to his dialogue between the two characters that worked for me in the same way when Bendis gets going with his overly conversational issues of Avengers. I found myself completely enraptured with the back and forth between these two characters. Even with the vaguest notion of what was going on (I’m not a big DC fan/reader so other characters in this book and references to the past… hell if I knew what they were), I was able to latch on to what the initial conflict was and run with it. In addition to the elegance and rhythm of the dialogue, when Robinson is doing his best, he injects a certain amount of real human emotion to his characters. Vulnerabilities and emotions become present subtly, bubbling under the surface. In this one issue, I got more from the Starman and Congorilla characters than I have after reading all of Cry for Justice and the Justice League of America. I connected with these characters, felt their pain or understood their plight, and that is what makes for a writing win.

Secondly, the  storytelling method of breaking linear time, starting at one point, and rewinding and bouncing between the present and the past is a well known and used tool for storytelling within comics, especially within recent years. Most of the time, with most average writers, it just works. You bounce and you see the story unfold while getting the back story you need. But in this case, Robinson teaches a class on how it’s done. Never spending too much time in the past, and spending the right, brief amount of time in the present, you’re willed to keep reading and turning pages to see just why these two characters are in the fight they’re in and what the heck is going on.

Finally, it’s that Brett Booth thing. I can’t explain it. I love the guy’s art. Maybe this is one of those ironic enjoyment things, but on a subconscious level. I’m sure there are many of you who won’t understand this and criticize his work. But that’s the thing. You can’t understand it. For some reason Booth’s art works for me on aesthetic appreciation level.

I completely did not see this Pick coming, but at the end of the day and the end of my stack, I found myself reflecting back on the fun I had while reading Starman/Congorilla #1and thinking, “you know, if this was an ongoing, I’d buy it.” James Robinson shines by focusing on the characters he wants to and in the process made me laugh and enjoy some great superhero action, senseless plot development (senseless in that as a causal reader I had no idea what was going in the grander scheme of things and yet the story still worked for me), and a reminder of an artist in Brett Booth, that I love.  For me, that makes for some good comic book reading and is enough to earn the Pick of the Week and hope that maybe this is a sign of things to come.

Ron Richards
Seriously. Ongoing. I’d buy it.


  1. plot twist!

  2. The skewing of Conor’s 2011 ‘By the Numbers’ article begins! 

  3. awesome!

  4. Oh man! I was so close to buying this! Held it in my hand and thought “Oooh, I like Brett Booth…but haven’t liked Robinson in several years, plus monkies…nah.”  Sounds like a bad call.

  5. Completely agree.  Just finished it and I was laughing out loud while reading the last page.  And you’re spot on with saying that there’s something special when James writes characters he loves.  Also, I want to see the “Thinkoff” that Mikaal mentioned…it would make for strange TV.

  6. Great pick, Josh! (*imagine a double take*) WAIT A MINUTE!  WHAT? RON?  😉

    (I made the same joke last week with Josh’s POTW. See:  http://www.ifanboy.com/content/potw/Pick_of_the_Week_-_12_29_2010_-_Detective_Comics__872#196247 )

  7. I saw this POTW and I was like “WTF!?”. Good thing I reserved this with my shop, I liked these 2 characters ever since their entry into the Justice League.

  8. Is this a one shot?

  9. Guh!?*

    Translation: Wha!? 

  10. @Gabe  Yes.

  11. COMPLETELY agree. They are my favorite characters in JLA right now.

  12. Thought this was a direct tie-in to Justice League book and did not pick it up. Luckily, I have to run to another store and pick up another book I missed so I will pick this up too. I may have been one of those few people that loved Cry For Justice and just could not stay with the Justice League book after several issues, so maybe this will get me back on the title when the new arc starts up.

  13. Cool review Ron. But Congorilla doesn’t have a penis on the cover and that concerns me.

  14. I found this comic to be unbearable. What you found clever, such a the playing with time, I found forced and uncessary. Not to mention all the continuity erros, big and small. The art was nice though. My pick would have been Avengers: Prime, but hey thats why my name is not Ron Richards. 🙂

  15. I feel that this year is unfairly balanced to DC and that clearly Ron is a fanboy and being paid by DC, 100% of all the picks of this year have been DC and clearly there is something afoot, Ron and IFanboy hates da Marvel.

    I didn’t even look at this book, will have to go take a second look next week. 

  16. Walking Dead #80 is my pow. 


  17. Mikaal and Congorila were certainly things I didn’t hate about Cry For Justice…in fact, I dare say I kinda liked their scenes together!

    Until you mentioned it here, I had no idea that Robinson was exploring the dynamic of these characters even deeper, since I’ve been keeping away from his JLA book in a way that I would stay away from something that would give me the Black Plague. I am a little more interested in the book now, as these silly character relationships are always a blast. I’ll definitely check this out, and perhaps I’ll read the JLA book when that Doomsday crossover rolls into it.

  18. Cool pick.  I didn’t get a chance to read this because my shop was sold out by the time I got there, but I look forward to hearing about it on the podcast.  As usual, I’m two weeks behind on my books because I was out of town last Wednesday, so my pick will be delayed.

  19. This really was fantastic…I need to start trusting my gut more.  I got my charge outta this one and was just sure that this would get passed over. Quite a disappointment to learn that it was just a one shot, especially considering the odd assortment of characters they picked up over the course of the issue.

  20. This was a small week for me and I kind of wanted to keep it that way, despite liking Starman and Congorilla.  Robinson just doesn’t do it for me, but I’ll head to the LCS during my lunch break and check it out.

  21. What?!?!
    Can’t wait to hear this pick of the week podcast. 

  22. and BOOM!

  23. BWUH?

  24. Looks like I’ll be adding this to my pull list!

  25. @ronrichards remember back when Booth did the Backlash/Spider-Man two issue mini? Solid GOLD! Love Brett Booth, and was a bit disappointed with his Larfleeze special but I think that had more to do with his inker and colorist. This book looked gorgeous!

  26. You zigged when I thought you were gonna zag and now you have me excited about going back to the shop to get this issue. Awesome review.

  27. Gorillas ALWAYS make things better – It is a DC flash FACT!

  28. First Connor’s article with all its horrible FACTS and now this?? Damn you Ron, why can’t you just pick Avengers Prime or some X-Book and confirm all my baseless assumptions?!?!?

  29. So is this a Vertigo book?

  30. You sold me, I’ll go get a copy today. I picked this up and thought it looked interesting but still haven’t gotten to Starman yet so I passed. Got me interested though.

  31. Hmmm..not sure. CBR said this issue was sinfully boring, cliche and unnecessary.

  32. @Firebreather  Well, do you normally like the same things Ron does?  Also, is CBR just one guy? How tall is he?

  33. Who Is Jake Ellis? was my pick of the week. Opening sequence sold the series for me.

  34. @NawidA, I agree. I was hooked from the first sequence.

  35. Is that a Deadpool Gorilla on page 3? Really liked…glad the POTW review helped my decision (that and the avengers: children’s crusade will be available in tpb by June).

  36. Okay Ronald, I went out of my way (went to a comic shop other than my regular LCS on the other side of town) to get this issue. You better not be wrong!  😉

    (Actually, looking at the art work, I would say it’s worth the purchase.)

  37. @Poopmonster  I think it’s actually a Grifter Gorilla, not Deadpool

  38. @Josh I like a lot of what Ron picks, I was just stating maybe Ron’s wrong on this one.  Sorry if I’m not one of the cool kids that says ,”Oh golly, I hope there’s a copy for me!” Just a different take is all.

  39. @Firebreather  Ron can’t be wrong. It’s HIS pick. You might not like it, CBR might not like it, everyone else in the entire world might not like it. As long as Ron liked it best he can’t be wrong.

  40. @ Conor Your right. Poor choice of words on my part. I disagree completely is all I meant and now I’ve typed more on this subject than I ever would have imagined. Differing opinions are welcome though, eh?

  41. @Firebreather  People disagree with the Pick all the time. Nothing new there.

  42. No matter how good this comic may be, it’s probably going to be my pick for most odd cover for 2011. There’s Starman (IV?) blasting through the air from the star on his chest, and Congorilla is doign what a Congorilla do. Let’s ignore that where his junk should be is just splayed out at you.

  43. Oooh, I wanted to like it, I really did.  But I didn’t.  I keep giving Robinson a chance because I loved Starman so very much, but I’m afraid I’m going away disappointed again.  Ah well…there’s always the Shade series this year (hopefully).

  44. Very nice review Ron, I loved this book too. The only area we’re in disagreement was in the timeshifting, which rarely clicks with me – I think the story would have been just as strong told in a linear manner. What the heck, though, it was a lovely looking, entertaining book and I’d buy you that subscription!

    @MountNJ The book is, and isn’t, a direct tie-in to current JLA – it’s showing us what Bill and Mik are up to while their colleagues are stuck in a Jade-generated dome in Washington DC.

  45. Batman Beyond bringing in the Justice League

  46. This issue was great!  I wish JLA was more like this.

  47. My LCS got damaged copies! I have to wait until this wednesday to read it now 🙁 

  48. I enjoyed this issue a lot too. I do feel that Justice League is lacking (I dropped it), but since Cry For Justice I have been very fascinated with the Starman/Congorilla friendship. The chemistry they share seems to be the best thing Robinson is pulling off right now.

    Though i’m confused as to why Prometheus would devote so much time analyzing the power of the Tasmanian Devil. I admit I don’t know much about this character, but when Malavar said that a meta had been captured by Prometheus “in an attempt to isolate the man’s power” I thought it would be a hero with a power more complex than enhanced strength, claws, and fangs. Is there more to the Tasmanian Devil than what I understand? 

    Fortunately that didn’t ruin the chemistry between the main characters, which is what I bought the book for anyway. I definitely support an ongoing for Starman/Congorilla. 

Leave a Comment