My origin story for liking comic books involves a basement where I sat while my parents had dinner at another couple’s house, and the man of the house let me pore over his comic book collection. Longbox after longbox. I never wanted to leave. I have no idea who that guy was, but he was my radioactive spider. I started off with Spider-Man, but soon The Avengers became a favorite book. I remember when Warlock and Thanos came along, and that oversized issue was one of my prized possessions.
But it wasn’t until much later, 1982, when at the tender age of 12 I discovered Dreadstar. Literally, this was another “everything changes” watershed moment for me. If my first books were my radioactive spider, this was like when Doc Ock took over Spider-Man. I saw comics as something more mature. The glossy paper made the stories look and feel more important—like art. The characters and subject matter were deeper. They weren’t complex like an X-Men soap opera, they were complicated on a personal, character-based level. It was because of Dreadstar that I started reading books like Flaming Carrot, Fish Police, Nexus, and Badger. It expanded my vision.
It also inspired me to go back over Starlin’s catalog. He was best known, of course, for creating cosmic characters like Korvac, Starfox, and Drax the Destroyer and reviving Captain Marvel—and then killing him in the very first Original Graphic Novel ever published. But he also created Shang-Chi, KGBeast, Pip the Troll, and Nitro. He was a cocreator of Heroes for Hope, the 1985 charity book that represented an early use of famous novelists in comic book writing (featuring stories by Stephen King and George RR Martin, among others). And he killed Robin.
And what with a little character known as Thanos getting so much airplay nowadays, and today being the release date for Guardians of the Galaxy, I thought I’d pay tribute to Jim Starlin with my top ten favorite Starlin comics! Hit next to start!