Thursday, November 6, 2008

If You Blinked You Missed...Howard Chaykin's Monark Starstalker!

Howard Chaykin is one of the greatest comicbook artists ever (just ask him!). If that's not enough, he happens to be one of the best comicbook writers ever, as well. Since breaking into the biz in the early days of the Groovy Age, Chaykin has kept fandom abuzz with his hard-fisted, hard-headed, he-man heroes like Iron Wolf, the Scorpion, Dominic Fortune, Gideon Faust, Cody Starbuck, (I'll get to all of those, Groove-ophiles, never fear!) Ruben Flagg, the Shadow, Blackhawk, and many more. He's has also been nominated for many awards (mostly for American Flagg), including Eagle (for which he's won several), the Hugo, and the Nebula. He has also been successful in television, writing and/or producing such shows as the Flash, Mutant X, Earth: the Final Conflict, and Viper. Recently he's found his way back to the drawing board, working for Marvel (Squadron Supreme 2; War Is Hell: Flight of the Phantom Eagle; Punisher War Journal) and DC (Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage).

One of Chaykin's most intriguing and original creations appeared in a single issue of Marvel Premiere #32 (June, 1976). Monark Starstalker was a pulpishly magnificent mix of science fiction, westerns, high adventure, and noir that should've been a huge hit. Unfortunately, soon after creating Starstalker, Chaykin got roped into doing a comic based on some piddly little sci-fi movie...Space Wars? No...Star Wars, that's it. For some reason, that became one of the best-selling titles in Marvel's history--seems like the movie did pretty well, too--so everyone kinda forgot about Starstalker and his awesome robotic falcon-shaped telepathic nervous system, Ulysses. Them's the breaks. But I think Starstalker could clean Skywalker's clock!

If you have any doubt that Monark Starstalker had potential to make a big splash in comics, check out the letters page from Marvel Premier #34...Ol' Groove'd sure dig some new Monark Starstalker sagas! Wouldn't you?

4 comments:

  1. there was a rumour doing the rounds a couple of years back that Chaykin was going to do a new, extended version of the first Monark Starstalker tale, with the possibility of a series to follow, but, unfortunately, a rumour was all it played out to be. this was a great comic. actually, around this time, Marvel Premiere & Marvel Spotlight were two of my favourite titles on the stands ( back when we got our comics from stands ).

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  2. Man, I wish that rumor had panned out. Since Chaykin is doing work for Marvel (just learned he's drawing a Captain America mini-series), maybe there's at least a shred of hope.

    I'm with you--for a while, Marvels Premiere and Spotlight were the most exciting titles going (along with Marvel Preview and the revived Showcase)!

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  3. Howard Chaykin may be my all-time favorite comics creator and this may be my all-time favorite story, severely limited in duration as it is! I think we would be deluding ourselves to believe this would ever be revived. In his career, Howie has seemed to enjoy creating characters who appear for a brief time, then using ideas from them for later work. So, Monark is there, but not by name.

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  4. Monark Starstalker makes his return to Marvel mainstream in an Uncanny X-Men/Nova/Iron Man crossover in 2014. Unfortunately, it's as a down on his luck version resorting to hiring Death's Head to do a job for him.

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