Monday, June 15, 2020

Darkstars #1

Of all the thousands of comic books I own, this is probably the most 90est of them.

I don't remember too much about this comic book but I'm pretty sure the pitch was this: "Imagine Green Lantern but with more police brutality and drawn by one of those Image boys!" Then four guys in suits dropped their pants and began jerking off into their briefcases full of money.

Just look at this gorgeous artifact of 90s comicdom! A super hero with a testicle for a head, full of gritty, sketched-in shade lines. His fists don't attach to his arms because that kind of perspective is difficult. Better to have flaring blasts of power or big wrist cuffs on their gloves! His thigh is nearly as thick as his chest. There's a huge fat guy that is just drawn in that Kingpin fat guy Tweedle-Dum style because actually drawing obese people isn't something 90s artists practiced. Although I'm not sure how much they practiced actual anatomy either and that didn't stop them from drawing and inventing all sorts of musculature. Anyway, I'm sure I picked up this issue not because the art blew me away but because it was 1992 and there was a "Sensational 1st Issue!" blurb on the cover. It was an investment! And judging conservatively by the fine price of this comic book at Mile High Comics, I've made more than double my money!

This series was written by Michael Jan Friedman whose name first made me think, "Wait. It was written by the Renegade guy?" But that was Michael-Jan Vincent. My next thought was, "Didn't this guy write Babylon 5 too?" But that was J. Michael Straczynski. This is just some guy who wrote a bunch of Star Trek novels. The artist is Larry Stroman whom I didn't recognize by name but judging by this cover, I wasn't surprised to see he worked on X-Factor for awhile.

The issue begins with the testicle-headed Darkstar on space patrol trying to pull over some low level criminals. Why were we all so obsessed with stories about space cops? Not that I was! I just bought this for investment purposes! Besides, I've always been critical of the role the Green Lanterns play in the universe. If they were a space EMT force, I would hardly have any problems with them. But when they're portrayed as space cops trying to keep some kind of intergalactic Guardian law, they just seem like a bunch of fascist dicks. Especially when one of the human Green Lanterns uses lethal force simply because the criminal is non-human. I'm pretty sure that's something that happened and I commented on it in a past review and not just a strawman I made up to justify hating on the Green Lantern Corps. Do I really need rational reasons to hate on space cops? I hope not because I'm really getting excited to hate on the Darkstars!

Aha! So he's a disenfranchised Darkstar who's going to need to be reminded why what he does is important. Or maybe he'll just be a gruff asshole to his young new partner I'm sure he'll be getting soon.

Apparently this Darkstar had a case go bad on some planet called Jenuwyne. So now the job has lost its shine and he's not even sure what he does helps in the slightest. It probably doesn't! Who needs any kind of police force that oversees so many different cultures across such vast distances in space?! How do they keep all the laws straight?! You know they occasionally get confused and beat some guy for not signalling and later find out that signalling is a huge insult to that race. I mean, I get the appeal of a pitch for an adventure comic book about space cops. But ultimately, it seems to just expose the fascism behind forcing people to follow arbitrary modes of behavior. At least in the Star Trek universe, the laws are decided by a federation of civilizations that have willingly joined the community. In Green Lantern (and presumably Darkstars though I admit I don't quite remember what kind of space cops they are), the laws have been decided by a group of little blue men who think they know better than everybody else. I'm pretty sure, with the exception of a few of the adjectives, that describes fascism.

There are three huge differences between the Darkstars and the Green Lanterns. The Green Lanterns are mostly green while the Darkstars are mostly red. The Green Lanterns use a ring on their fingers and the Darkstars use rings on their entire hands. The Green Lanterns create constructs out of emotional light energy while the Darkstars just blast shit with an orange beam that goes "VEEEEEP!" There might be more differences but I'm only on page 3.

I'm not going to cynically decide, on page 5, that Colus is exactly like Hal Jordan. I mean, Hal Jordan's head doesn't look like a testicle so that's one big difference between them.

Now that Colus has cracked the case of the hijacked medicine, he's being put on the next case: investigate Earth! He probably has to look into the concept of "love" and find out why these humans, with all their emotions, are so special.

Meanwhile on Earth, some cop with the head of a typical Chicagoan totally wants to rough up the person he's talking to for information but she's a nun so he's all, "Fuck. Can I get away with that? I can probably get away with it, right? But, I mean, I guess I believe in God and that slim belief is really all that's keeping me from doing whatever the fuck I want. I mean, the law ain't gonna stop me from beating this nun senseless for information. Last I checked, the District Attorney liked the police being cooperative and is smart enough to know that sending a police brutality case to a grand jury would mean a lot of cops are going to suddenly stop helping the District Attorney's win percentage. So I could probably beat this nun but there's that possible God and heaven thing. I guess I just have to let her disrespect me this one time. Just this one fucking time." Then he goes off to intimidate some homeless people because who's going to advocate for them, you know?!

I feel like I remember this Chicago-headed Dallas cop becoming a Darkstar. He's investigating the same case as Darkstar Colos: an alien drug called Loco or Loku being sold on Earth.

Colos arrives on Earth to discover the homeless guy who was intimidated into being an informant to Detective Chicago Head, Mo, trying to save some other homeless people from being attacked by people on Loco. Colos intimidates him into being his Earth informant as well. Hopefully Mo will get his own Darkstars band too.

The Dallas cop raids the warehouse where Mo told him the Loco was being distributed. What he finds is a huge alien creature and a brush with death. Or maybe death since the issue ends with the creature attacking him. But I'm pretty sure the guy becomes a Darkstar himself. I don't think I'd have an image of a Chicago-looking cop with a thick mustache and thicker head in a Darkstars uniform in my head otherwise and I'm not laughing at your perverse alternative reason for it.

Darkstars #1 Rating: B-. It's just a cops in space comic book but more so than Green Lantern. I'm revising my pitch to this: "So if the Green Lanterns are sort of space cops, imagine Green Lanterns that are even more space copier! They'll be so much like cops that they'll hire an Earth cop immediately!" I think this was before John Stewart was known as a marine and Guy Gardner was known as a cop (or son of a cop? I'm so bad at remembering the DC history I should remember. I blame my brain having to react to all the retcons and crises). So having a legitimate cop on the space force would have been a novel idea. Oh, also, it was a mediocre cops in space comic book.

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