Nostalgia is a funny thing. It has the power to instill positive feelings, to bring comfort and peace in times of uncertainty, or when a person is feeling as if the world they know now is beyond their control and their place in it is becoming diminished. The song that was playing when we had our first kiss is one of the greatest songs ever written. Watching Star Wars at the age of 5, with your dad, at a drive-in theater…man, all movies made now suck in comparison. Clothing, toys, social activities, cars…everything was better back in the day.

Of course, none of this is true. Memory is selective and is often a liar. The bad things, the unjust things, and the negative things are all swept under a fuzzy haze of false perception. We collect nostalgia and put it in safe corners, a cocoon to protect us. As Milan Kundera wrote, the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

James Robinson’s much-beloved run on Starman is steeped in nostalgia. Its titular hero, Jack Knight, is a modern Sisyphus, pushing ever uphill against the modern. He is, as his father refers to him, a “junk man”, who traffics in ye olden times. His shop is, humorously, named Knight’s Past. Clever, that. Jack is all of us, the collectors, the board and baggers, the original packaging fanatics. He is our everyman.

It is Jack’s growth, and his conflict, that forms the crux of the series’ narrative.

This is the first arc of Jack Knight’s journey, Sins of the Father, which collects issues 0-5 of what would become a stunning and seminal 80-issue run.

With art by Tony Harris, Robinson introduces us to the fantastical Opal City and its hero, Starman. Starman is a complex character in the DC Universe, the nomenclature used by a variety of individuals over the decades. But the focus here is on the Ted Knight iteration and his 2 sons. Hence the title.

Most of these issues are preludes, with hints and allegations of the long story Robinson had mapped out. But there is, of course, a concise tale. Robinson plays the origin of the new Starman relatively safe: A conflict, a self-discovery, a bad guy, good triumphs, etc.

Yet, complexity exists. A family dynamic that is fractured. A city that is a character unto itself. A villain who is not a villain. Supporting characters are introduced, characters who have history and will be important to Jack’s journey. A phallic weapon. And lots of emo exposition. It is the 90’s after all.

A hero’s journey writ small with cosmic implications.

This article originally appeared as the introduction to episode 81: Starman: Sins of the Father.

The Collected Edition is a comic book podcast where the hosts discuss the famous and infamous runs and story arcs throughout the history of comics. Please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Sticher, IHeartRadio, and Spotify.