Once again, but for the last time, a cover that features Starman and minimizes Plastic Man (who battles villains called Acid-Tongue and the Skunk), in Adventure 474 (Aug 80).
Starman leads the search for Lady Merria in this story by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal. Following instruction from Mn’torr, he and Clryssa head to Asryx, the prison planet, but wind up getting captured themselves.
Clryssa is in “disguise” – which means she has a strip of cloth over her imperial tattoo. Starman bracelets are taken from him when they are captured, and he is forced to fight some robots single-handed in order to retrieve them and regain his powers. This scene actually looks better on the cover than in the story.
There’s more awkward romance between Starman and his oblivious sister, before they free Merria, as well as Jediah Rikane. Clryssa pledges to reward Jediah for his service.
The chapter ends with a wholly unexpected scene, as Mn’torr suddenly shows up to confront Lord Protector Oswin.
Bad tidings across the empire in the Starman story from Adventure 473 (July 80), by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.
Starman defends the odd bubble ship from an attack by Lord Portector Oswin’s forces, but as they have no idea the Empress is on board, this is taken to mean that Starman abducted and murdered her.
Clryssa knows this isn’t the case, and promises to reward Starman when they return to Throneworld. But the “reward” is a little more erotic than Gavyn is comfortable with, considering it’s from his sister. One of the creepiest, but also entertaining, elements to this serial.
Oswin’s men also pick up Lady Merria and Jediah Rikane, but refuse to listen to anything they have to say. Under the belief that Clryssa and Merria had both died on the ship, Oswin has been made Regent of the Empire. Somehow, Lady Merria being alive and heir to the throne does not change this, possibly because Oswin immdeiately has her and Rikane arrested as traitors, for complicity in the Empress’ death.
I like the cover to Adventure 472 (June 1980), as it sort of shoves Plastic Man to the side in favour of Starman, much like I am doing in this blog.
Starman comes across the wreckage of the Empress’ ship in this story by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal, and is distressed to discover only one occupied life capsule on it.
As both the Empress and Lady Merria were aboard, Gavyn assumes one has died, and is fearful to open it and find out. But he gets doubly good news when it turns out Merria was in the capsule, but saw the Empress taken alive before she got in.
Still, that means he has to find her, but his powers prove useful, and lead him to an unusual craft that appears to be cojoined bubbles from the outside, and trippy hippy decor on the inside.
The craft was keeping the Empress safe, but Oswin has tracked it and presumes it a threat, and prepares to attack as the story comes to a close. Meanwhile, Clryssa meets Starman, but completely fails to recognize that he is her supposedly dead brother. Considering that the costume largely covers his head, and she has no reason to think Gavyn might be alive, I can accept this.
Another split cover on Adventure 471 (May 80), showing Plastic Man saving Woozy Winks from Brickface, and the story I am going to talk about instead.
Lord Protector Oswin has become obsessed with Starman, seeking to learn the secrets of his powers. He also sends his forces under Captain Krydd to attack Akademe, a training world for merchant spacemen. If those two things are related, it’s not clear how.
Jediah Rikane is now living with Starman and Mn’torr on the asteroid, and knows he is really Prince Gavyn. He seems content to take the sidekick role in the story. Mn’torr alerts them to Oswin’s assault on Akademe.
So after a few issues of backstory, we get one of action, as Starman faces not only the normal soldiers, but also the massive Captain Krydd. Not that it proves much of a difficulty to him. Jediah does get briefly captured, but also gets saved by Starman.
The flashbacks continue as the origin of Starman concludes in Adventure 470 (April 1980), by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal. And look, he almost gets the cover all to himself!
Mn’Torr rescues Prince Gavyn, and brings him to his bizarre little asteroid. He informs Gavyn that he was not, in fact, dying, and gives him the bracelets that allow him to channel his power. Gavyn learns little of Mn’torr, or how he knew all this.
Mn’torr also provides Gavyn his Starman costume, and trains him in the use of his powers. Starman makes his first outing protecting a mine colony from a space beast, which looks much cooler on the cover than in the issue itself.
With Lady Merria all filled in, the trio return to Throneworld to see Clryssa safely crowned. Gavyn no longer has any interest in the crown, and stays in the background, content with his new life, but also determined to protect Clryssa from Lord Protector Oswin’s schemes.
Plastic Man fights an albino assassin called Pinkeye in Adventure 469 (March 1980), but that’s not the story I’m going to talk about.
Much of this issue’s Starman story by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Roneo Tanghal is told in flashback, as Prince Gavyn unmasks in front of Lady Merria.
We learn that Gavyn is Clryssa’s brother, both heirs to the crown of Throneworld. Gavyn was a bit of a playboy, and Merria’s boyfriend, but also had plans for reform. Primarily, he wanted to get rid of the tradition that, upon the crowning of a new leader, all other heirs are put to death to prevent rebellion.
When Clryssa is chosen to become Empress, he is distressed to discover that she does not share her views. Clryssa promises to adopt Merria into the royal family as compensation for Gavyn’s death. Though this seems callous, in fact it was probably an extremely considerate gesture on her part. One would expect Merria to be executed or exiled as well in that culture.
Gavyn is taken aboard a spaceship for his execution, and when offered the chance to survive as a pawn, fights for the honour of his sister and Throneworld. There’s a true hero for ya!
The story ends with Gavyn being shunted into space, and dying. Obviously it continues next issue.
Plastic Man fights a killer ballet dancer in Adventure 468 (Feb 80). Look, there he is on the cover. No need to say anything else.
Starman heads to Throneworld, the central planet of the Empire, in this story by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal, in hopes of preventing Lord Protector Oswin from assassinating Empress Clryssa.
He deduces that the crown itself must be part of the assassination plot, and as he fights to obtain it, Mn’torr shows up to help, displaying even more mysterious abilities.
Starman prevents the guards from fulfilling Oswin’s plans to turn the crown into a weapon, but Lady Merria, who comes to retrieve it, is far from thankful, even when he unmasks.
Although his specific identity is not made clear, there are two intriguing hints. Firstly, he has the same forehead tattoo as Clryssa, which Merria got as well in this issue, referred to as the sign that one is a member of the imperial family, and Merria’s statement that Starman has a claim to the throne!