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.