The solicitations for this latest “Black Hammer” spinoff miniseries made it seem like it was borrowing a lot from James Robinson et. al.’s classic series “Starman.” Not only was this set to feature a character with “Star” in his name, but it was also set up to revolve around the kind of fractured father/son relationship which drove that series as well. “Black Hammer’s” take on the history of comics can tread towards self-congratulatory navel-gazing at times and “Doctor Star” looked like it was going to cross right over that line. At least until I found out that the title character’s real name was James Robinson in the “Sherlock Frankenstein” series and I was hoping that creator/writer Jeff Lemire was aiming to inject some kind of metafictional take here.
That’s not the case as Lemire notes in the backmatter that Doctor Star’s real name is really just a nod to real “Starman” writer Robinson. Paradoxically, this miniseries winds up being more disappointing for not being a riff on the relationship which drove “Starman.” No, “Lost Tomorrows” is a bog-standard story about a scientist who discovers a new source of power, uses it to become a superhero, and neglects his family life in the process. Don’t expect any twists or surprises here, the story of Doctor Star’s life plays out with the same familiar beats of sadness and regret all these stories have.
Even if the miniseries is effectively hobbled by its strict adherence to storytelling convention, it’s at least supported by some noteworthy craft. Lemire does manage to give the story an appropriately melancholy tone with a finale whose uplift feels appropriate and earned. I was also impressed by artist Max Fiumara’s work, as he’s come a long way from his work on “B.P.R.D.” and “Abe Sapien.” He channels the superhero weirdness of the “Black Hammer” universe quite well and gets it to mix seamlessly with the more grounded human concerns at the heart of the story. Dave Stewart’s colors help here as well, giving the flashbacks a brighter look compared to the grays of the present day. All the creators involved with this story are doing good work here, it’s just too bad that they’re not doing it in the service of a more interesting story.