Reviews of Old Comics: Starstream #3
Posted on: April 5, 2014 /
No Spoilers this week, as this is an anthology published by Whitman in 1976. I seem to recall that my original copies were purchased at a discount store (think K-Mart-ish) when I was five or six in a pack of 3. That means to get all four issues of this series, I must’ve ended up with multiples of something. The premise of the anthology is that there are comic adaptations of science fiction short stories, with an occassional original thrown in. The caliber of artists is quite good for the most part, with only few exceptions. At another time, I may cover the other issues, but I have a reason for getting to this one first.
Also, I used the synopsis for the April Fool’s entry, What If #34.
Again, no spoilers, since for the summary, I’m just going to copy from the contents page.
Born of the Sun (by Jack Williamson, art by Don Heck) One by one, the planets were disintegrating while a religious fanatic was destroying man’s only chance for survival!
A Day in the Life of Dr. Moon (by Harry Dawes, art by Frank Bolle) A fatal disease threatens to wipe out Lunar City unless the carrier can be found and destroyed!
Microcosmic God (by Theodore Sturgeon, art by Adolfo Buylla) Kidder’s “people” were a race of super beings created to solve Man’s problems – but could they solve the ultimate problem?
Last Voyage of the Albatross (by A.E. VanVogt, art by A. M. Williams) Contact with aliens leaves a trail of mysterious clues in this sea adventure from one of science fiction’s most respected old-timers.
The Crystal Singer (by Anne McCaffrey, art by Frank Bolle) A crystal singer could mine a fortune and live almost forever – unless a mach storm robbed her of her sanity!
The gem in this issue is Microcosmic God, a personal favorite of mine in its original prose. It’s such a good story, that this adaptation is too short to do it justice. Buylla’s art has a very fresh style, even over 30 years later. I would love to see this story adapted with the same quality of artwork in a full-length comic format. Some inventions are dated, but I could see this adapted to present-day very easily, especially given that the core scientific concept at work is evolution.
The first story is not the best of Don Heck’s art, and with more and more scientific knowledge, the story comes across as more and more fantasy than science-fiction. The antogonist is rendered in a borderline racist style more at home in the 1940s rather than the 1970s.
The second story finds its place in an anthology, and artwork by Frank Bolle doesn’t hurt it, but in light of modern research on low gravity and it’s effect on human physiology, the story becomes somewhat simplified.
The fourth story is adequate, and the only thing hurting the artowrk are the flat colors. A little more rendering on this exquisitely naturalistic artwork would be fantastic. It’s a sad victim of the limitations of the time.
The final story is a very satisfying ending to the anthology. Frank Bolle’s artwork is great here, and reminds me very much of the Supergirl stories that first drew him to my attention. His women in general are beautiful, and the lead character is no exception. The gem to the story is its simplicity, and maybe that’s why Bolle’s artwork works so well for it. He details exactly what is needed for the scene and nothing more. Technology is believable, but not so much that it distracts from the story.
This issue has been collected in Questar Illustrated Science Fiction Classics (ISBN: B000KCL3B8) As far as finding it, good luck, you can find issues for sale online, but beware of the condition, as I’ve never seen a well-preserved copy. It seems that Whitman used very bad newsprint for this series. A Near-Mint copy lists for $12.00, but I’d be surprised if you couldn’t trip over a copy for a little bit of nothing. Someone once let me know that they found all four issues on eBay for 99 cents each. If you come across it in a bargain box at a convention, snatch it up, regardless of condition, as long as it’s complete.
FINAL RATING: 7.0 (out of a possible 10)
It’s an anthology and not everything is a gem. The good stuff is really good, but the bad stuff is just distracting.