Starbrand And Nightmask #1


Capsule Review

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


Read #2?


Sales Rank

#94 December

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.


Starbrand And Nightmask #1


About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published every now and then at!

Posted on January 27, 2016, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I agree ..they don’t do anything to bring me back for a second issue and they don’t seem very compelling from the start…there are no stakes and no element of danger to this title in the very least…the art is okay…but okay, dose not get the job done…very very blah title…


    • Hard to understand how this book got greenlit in the first place — it seemed pre-destined for cancellation (which should come any day now). If all these “tweener-verse” books were under a common editor, with line-wide trade-dress and a real attempt to tie them all together, then maybe you could launch a weak sister like Starbrand and (hope) it would get a lift from those other books. But even that strategy doesn’t make much sense — those other books are also among the poorest-selling in Marvel’s line, with titles like Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel making up their monthly losses with stronger trade paperback sales.

      Starbrand was certain to have poor monthly sales, and who is going to buy the collection? Doomed.


  2. Yeah….I might have bought a title that had rebooted versions of the New Universe in the book itself……If they had rebooted villains and heroes from the New Universe to deal with that would have made the book something different and interesting..DP 7,, Justice,Spit Fire.. Merc Hazzard….Psi Force…..take those concept update them bring ’em into the present and mix them with Star Brand and Night Mask then you got a party.


    • It’s almost as if someone in Marvel editorial noticed, at the last minute, that as this new relaunch was destroying/folding the Ultimate universe into main continuity that they shouldn’t forget about the old New Universe characters, either.

      If only the Ultraverse were afforded the same respect!


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