Jedidiah Starr #1 review

Jedidiah Starr - the name screams 'space cowboy'. And that's what we get in the first issue of this new series from View Comics, as a stranger moseys into town - after waking up in a crater.

Jedidiah isn't his real name. He's a starman, a man who fell to Earth, named after her father by bar owner Sarah when he can't recall his identity. He can't remember his past either, but that doesn't stop Sarah offering him a place to stay. Perhaps she recognises an innate goodness.

Or perhaps she's the patron saint of bad decisions. Her choice in boyfriends doesn't point to a terrific knack for reading people - her ex, Dirk, who runs the town, is a nasty piece of work. After Jedidiah stands up to him, he returns the next day with his gang of thugs and sets upon our hero.

With the aid of super-powers that surprise even him, our hero does, of course, win the day.

I say 'of course' because there are no surprises in this chapter - noble stranger defends hapless saloon girl from the town bully. I suspect writer Dave Christian is deliberately hewing a classic furrow before going off in wilder directions (the story's opening and south-western US setting heavily recall the Will Payton version of DC's Starman). The final page certainly points towards a more interesting future.

It's a shame this issue doesn't give us a little bit in the way of originality, though. There's definitely room for more in the way of incident, with several panels given over to needless, wordless moments, such as Jedidiah and Sarah looking at the door Dirk and pal Butch have gone through; Butch just sitting there after Dirk addresses him - is he actually mute?; Jedidiah looking at the door to Sarah's back office.

Sometimes, silent panels are used logically, and well - for scene setting, going from the general to the particular; or for a character beat. More of these and fewer 'moments between moments' would jolly things along nicely.

Artist Jose 'Louie' Hernandez's character designs are decent, and happily consistent from page to page, but there's a stiffness to much of the figurework, and some of the proportions are really rather off. It'll be interesting to see how Hernandez develops, as his storytelling instincts aren't bad (I'm assuming all those extra silent panels are dictated by the script). There are some powerful images, such as our first look at Jedidiah, and a commendable attention to the cowboy country backgrounds. I expect that with time and lots of practise, most of the rough edges can be lost.

Randy Pare is to be commended for hand-lettering in this age of computer fonts, but I'd suggest giving in and using a computer font while practising the hand-lettering - the work here doesn't look great.

So, Jedidiah Starr #1 isn't the slickest of debuts, but there's a likeable old-fashioned quality to the set-up, mysteries to be solved and characters to be explored. And that equals potential.