By Clyde Hall. In the annals of superheroics, the Scientist-Adventurer occupies a unique niche. Their astonishing breakthroughs turn theoretical applications into wonder weapons, insect translation helmets, matter-condensing particles, and anti-gravity boots. While they can be the coolest of heroes (Tony Stark) and even the heavy-hitters (Bruce Banner), most often they’re bookworms who venture onto the battlefield armed with their gonzo science and their superior intellect. They must spend copious time in the lab making their breakthroughs, and then more manhours endlessly improving what they’ve wrought. Such a studious life coupled with practical application of their labors as superheroes would necessarily take a toll on personal relationships. On family.
That’s the crux of Jeff Lemire’s unfolding tale in issue #2 of Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows. He also lovingly pays tribute to a classic character of the Scientist-Adventurer stripe, Starman, in a manner that hasn’t been done this well since the early issues of Astro City. That includes honoring James Robinson’s DC series centered on the legacy of the Starman character; Doctor Star’s secret ID is named ‘Jim Robinson’, and he resembles the writer.
In 1951, after he and his superhero allies have proven themselves on the battlefields of WWII, Doctor Star continues his work in astronomy, searching for intelligent life among the stars. He’s contacted by extraterrestrial beings in need of his help, and Doctor Star charges to the rescue. His exploits are the sort that get statues raised in your honor. But as a wise TV character once mused, “It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of ’em was one kinda sombitch or another.” And the result of Star’s mission is a permanent wedge between himself and his family.
In issue #2, we learn the bitter cost of chasing lofty dreams and becoming too immersed playing the hero. Lemire ably gambols from exhilarating interstellar exploration to decimating personal regret for our protagonist, his primary fault simple human error. Lemire’s is a subtle twist on superhuman ability fouled with all-too-human inclination, not as dramatic as a Lagos explosion but even more devastating. His dialogue is noteworthy, its style reflecting the early days of Star’s career one moment, transforming to decidedly modern discourse the next.
Artist Max Fiumara’s work is firmly aligned with Lemire’s storyline, fluidly moving setting to setting, period to period. He makes that daunting task look far easier than it is. Dave Stewart’s colors are exceptional here, the brighter tones brought to bear on Star’s glory days, mired and tired muted washes shaping the rueful present.
Dr. Star’s past milestones and mistakes, his resultant modern malaise, have all been set down. What remains is seeing what lengths he’s willing to go to redress his current situation. And maybe work in some homage to a certain corps of ring-slingers along the way.
Dark Horse Comics/$3.99
Written by Jeff Lemire.
Art by Max Fiumara.
Colors by Dave Stewart.
Letters by Nate Piekos of Blambot.
7.5 out of 10
Check out this five-page preview of ‘Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows’ #2 from Dark Horse Comics!