Starbrand And Nightmask #1
STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK #1
One of the fascinating things about this latest Marvel re-launch has been watching the various storytelling lines take shape. You have the X-Men off in their usual niche, and the Inhumans trying to establish their own franchise, and a couple Avengers books covering the establishment side of the tracks, and a whack of assorted oddities set in Hel or the old west or Weirdworld that seem destined for early cancellation. You know — the usual! What feels fresh is the emergence of an unofficial Marvel “Tweener-verse,” comprised of books like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Devil Dinosaur, Nova, and Hellcat, all of which occupy a kind of second-tier-hero space — not because the heroes are second-tier so much as because they are young. In ages past we would have called them sidekicks, or the Teen Titans, but these characters are clearly something different — more deliberately diverse, with a whiff of “all-ages” suitability, and a mission to reach “new” readers (anyone other than older white guys, basically). I like most of these books, but Starbrand and Nightmask … not so much. It checks most of the boxes — young heroes, a school setting, even a cameo from Squirrel Girl — but where those other books have mostly felt the organic product of newish voices, this title feels manufactured, like it exists only for the purpose of filling out this new emerging line, without really having anything to say for itself. For me, the biggest failing was in the characters. I came into the book vaguely aware of Starbrand as something at the center of a childish vendetta against Jim Shooter, and Nightmask as something you wear to combat sleep apnea, and I left knowing not much more. Apologies in advance if these guys are your favorite characters, but here they are wet noodles, whistled up out of Young Adult Central Casting to act awkward and out-of-place on the first day of school, but doing precious little to get me onboard aside from some perfunctory superheroics and a throw-away reference to one of the adultish-looking characters actually being only three earth-years old. Even an appearance by my old-fave Nitro (virtually unrecognizable as drawn by Domo Stanton) couldn’t rescue writer Greg Weisman’s tale. Dunno. Maybe I’m just too old.
Approachability For New Readers
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