Thursday, 18 September 2014

Marvel Premiere #32 - Monark Starstalker.

Marvel Premiere #32, Monark Starstalker
Well, it's certainly been an exciting day here in Le Royaume-Uni as people have been busily rushing to the polls.

Needless to say, I'm on the side of whichever side wins. Unless it's a draw. In which case I'm on both sides. Frankly, all I care about is the Loch Ness Monster. As long as that's happy, I'm happy.

This has been the sort of in-depth political analysis that only this blog can bring you because only this blog doesn't know what it's on about.

One man who definitely knew what he was on about was Monark Starstalker, Howard Chaykin's outer space bounty hunter from Marvel Premiere #32. Like Chaykin's earlier character the Scorpion, when he sets his sights on a target, that target had better watch out.

What happens is this. Starstalker lands on the planet Stormking which somewhat resembles an old wild west town, sets out to bring in a wrongdoer called Kurt Hammer - dead or alive - and quickly brings him in dead.

Marvel Premiere #32, Monark Starstalker
He does this with the aid of a robot falcon that serves as his ears and eyes, thanks to his own senses having been destroyed in an outer space incident some time ago.

Along the way, he picks up a female ally who just seems to appear from thin air, and he ruffles a few local feathers.

I do have to admit that this was probably my least favourite issue of any comic I owned when I was a kid. At the time, I could appreciate that it looked quite pretty but, for whatever reason, I couldn't get into it at all as a story.

I have to say that, reading it again for the first time since then, I still can't get into it. It still looks pretty enough but the visual story-telling is often confusing, needing captions to help make sense of what the pictures are supposed to be showing and there are times when even with captions, it's hard to understand what's going on. For instance, characters just seem to appear and disappear without it being obvious just where they've come from or gone to.

Marvel Premiere #32, Monark Starstalker
Added to all this, Starstalker has no personality at all for the reader to latch onto. He basically shows up, does what he set out to do and then leaves, with no real insight into who he is or why he's doing any of the things he's doing.

In fact, it's not clear why anyone in the tale is doing what they're doing.

In fact, it's not that clear who anyone in the story actually is.

In a way, it's nice to know my eleven year old self agreed with my no-longer-eleven-year-old self and had a wisdom I might have thought beyond him but I like to like things and therefore it would have been nice for him to have been proven wrong.


Anonymous said...

Its a fair point you make about characterisation, Steve. Although for me, Monark and Robin hitting it off and having sex was enough to make them seem closer to real people than pretty much any other Marvel character I can think of offhand.

Really don't understand why you think the story telling is confusing though. Made perfect sense to me.

Maybe Howard Chaykin is just someone whose work you really like or don't. A bit like marmite.


Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, man. I'm with Sean: there's nothing at all confusing about this story. I think it's brilliant, and arguably the best single issue of Marvel Premiere (a series I really liked, by the way).

Steve W. said...

I'm sure there's something wrong with me. I've just re-read it and I still can't make sense of chunks of it. Just where does Robin appear from? What's the deal with Hammer's girlfriend? If you read pages like 4 and 6 without reading the captions and dialogue, you wouldn't have a clue what was going on. To me, it just feels like incredibly muddled story-telling.

Anonymous said...

Steve - Robin is a local who doesn't fit in; she happens to meet Monark when they sit at the same table - reserved for outsiders - and they hit it off. Shaw's aide turns out to be Hammer's girlfriend, which makes sense because Hammer is actually working for Triplanet Metals (Shaw has been set up). Seemed clear to me.

Maybe it doesn't make sense if you don't read the captions and dialogue, but.... aren't you supposed to do that with a comic? I could understand an argument that the text just dumps information on the page in a way that holds up the flow of the story, but I wouldn't agree with it.

Still just seems like a question of taste to me.


Dougie said...

I got it in a Marvel Grab Bag in Morecambe in the late 70s. I liked the cybernetic eagle but it wasn't science-fantasy enough for me. I had liked Chaykin's Iron -Wolf at DC much better. I'd like to re-read this one though.