Atomic Two-on-One: GAVYN GAVYN GAVYN!

Deane Aikins and Rod Keith continue their head-to-head customizing with another look at the Starman legacy—Prince Gavyn.
Deane:
Whereas Ted Knight was the Starman of my childhood, thanks to a reprinted adventure with the Mist in an issue of WANTED, the Starman I first collected was Prince Gavyn, completely by accident.  In 1980, my brother was a big Plastic Man fan and bought his appearance in ADVENTURE COMICS.  As big a fan of Joe Staton as I was, Steve Ditko’s Starman attracted me immediately. 
Rod Keith:
I have a similar tale!

I moved to a smallish rural school for grade 6, where I made friends with a gregarious jock who jumped on the idea of collecting comics in tandem with myself. The one title he really liked that I didn’t collect was Adventure Comics, and that started with issue #467, Starman’s debut. At the time I was the Plastic Man fan (since I had managed to read early Jack Cole stuff in several library books, notably Comix: An Illustrated History by Les Daniels, Secret Origins of DC Super-Heroes, and others) and, despite liking Joe Staton’s E-Man as a tyke, I didn’t find the current Plastic Man up to snuff. So I chose not to buy that book (I had to make choices—I wasn’t the millionaire I am now) and instead leafed through his copies. He quite liked Starman, but at the time I had been so confused by Ditko’s Shade The Changing Man I couldn’t get into it. But I completely associate Prince Gavyn and those Adventure issues (which ran to #478) with my friend then.


Deane:
Paul Levitz wrote a very medieval story of a royal family that required all siblings of royal ascendancy to be put to death after a coronation, to prevent uprisings.  Prince Gavyn turns out to be the unfortunate brother in question, yet he has received mysterious star powers and fights off threats to the throne disguised as Starman.  


 


He palled around with a mysterious alien named M’ntorr (nice), had a girlfriend who knew his identity.  His sister, the Queen, did not know Starman’s identity, and would hit on him.  

That’s known as a “galactic gross”.


RK:
Reading through the entire run, for the first time, for research for the figure, I was surprised actually how much I enjoyed it. And the virtual nigh-incest that underpins the stories is certainly one of the more interesting features. And oddly prescient, considering the George Lucas-like storyline which predates both Empire and Return of the Jedi. M’ntorr is sort of an Obi-Wan with the green skin and gruffness of Yoda. 
Deane:
He had a bright and busy costume that looked very superheroey, despite the STAR WARS emphasis.


RK:
Despite not connecting with the stories themselves as a lad, I did like the design. I remember particularly liking the goggles/glasses/eye cover thingies that Starman had, and the mask allowing the hair to be seen. Back in 1980 those details were somewhat fresh.
Deane:
The story was hurried to a close, with Starman eventually becoming ruler of his empire. RK:
Kind of a startingly abrupt cliffhanger, actually.



Deane:
Flash forward a year to DC COMICS PRESENTS #36 when Paul Levitz and Jim Starlin return us to Throneworld, where we learn that Starman’s family ruled the cosmos through threat of a doomsday device that Mongul now wants.  A newly costumed Starman is joined by Superman to defeat Mongul, at the cost of the device that had kept the kingdom in line. 



RK:
This followed a series of DCCP issues that Starlin worked on, #26-#29, which matured the title considerably. I remember thinking at the time that this was the way Superman was supposed to be—dealing with grand space opera, villains more powerful than him, Death, and even God (I’ve since grown to appreciate the full scope of stories that Supes can offer). Seeing this new, serious, responsible Starman as part of this work was a perfect representation for showing that both comics and people (and even adolescent readers) could grow up.

Deane:
Prince Gavyn was not heard from again into a single-panel death in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, where we see him die fighting Anti-Matter clouds.

RK:
James Robinson elaborated on this undignified end into a grand, tragic tale in 1996’s Starman Annual 1, in which Prince Gavyn is joined into his Starman ‘family’. A very touching re-examination and elaboration on the character, much as he did with Mikaal Tomas, the Shade, and many others, but this is accomplished in 16 pages. 



And then, Robinson does something very interesting with Gavyn and his legacy in the penultimate Starman storyline, but it’s controversial enough to not be considered an ‘official’ part of Gavyn’s story– unless one chooses otherwise…

Since then, Gavyn has also made cameos on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, which has merited a JLU figure for him. Not exactly accurate, since he wields the staff he gets from M’ntorr he’s only seen with in his later incarnation, but perhaps his JLU adventures take place between the end of Adventure #478 and DCCP #36…



Deane:
I built the Starlin Prince Gavyn from the Black Suit DCUC Superman, the head of DCUC Superman Blue, and the goggles from a DC Direct JLA Black Lightning. 

RK:
Serendipitously, I chose the Superman Red figure for the earlier ‘hothead’ incarnation of Gavyn, which sets off the cool Supes-Blue serenity of the responsible ruler Gavyn.



My choice was to sculpt the bracelets, bootcuffs, and goggle/eye-thingies. As we’ve discussed before, I’m more of an organic fine-art guy in my approach, while you’re more of a rational ‘scientist’ with your mathematical accuracy ‘n’ such. 

Deane:
The New Odd Couple.

RK
I’m Starsky, he’s Hutch.

Deane:
The figure needed only slight puttying to complete the mask.  I added little gems to the bracelets and constructed M’ntorr’s staff from an aluminum tube covered in putty.


 



RK
Thought about gems (got a whole bag left over from Mikaal Tomas and his pendant), but really wanted to make sure I got the oval look.



I’m impressed that you engineered the staff with a gap in the middle, so it fits in the hand more snugly. 

Deane:
Starman’s star symbol is fashioned from 3M pin striping tape.


RK:
I think you only let me do the Ditko Starman because the painting job is way more complicated. 



Deane:
The star of this build is the paint.  I’ve been doing customs for a while and folks have really been excited by this figure.  I think it’s the paint.

RK:
I was behind on this one, and once I saw your sweet, sweet, metallic blue, I realized that mine needed the same pizzazz. Only I went too far and used gloss black and pearl white. Once I finished something was wrong. I realized that was the wrong direction—EVERYTHING was popping forward, which meant nothing was. It just made the colours difficult to look at. 



I had to go back and repaint the blacks with a rich but flatter Tamiya black, and just use a flat white. But it made all the difference—the white and black recede now to allow the red, yellow and golds to gain dominance. A good lesson in paint dynamics.



Deane:
I really was unimpressed with Starlin’s redesign when it first came out.  I thought the blue was boring.  Now that it’s staring at me, I gotta say I’m completely won over.  The simplicity and colour scheme really works in three dimensions.  


RK:
One day we’ll get these things in the same room to compare. 

For now, it’s pretty awesome to see Starmen on the shelf. Hopefully Mattel will follow suit. It’s hard to pick what to customize with DCUC—they could hit us with almost anything in the next wave. Though my guess is that we’ll see Ted, Jack and Courtney before the others. So it’s best to fill in the gaps that are more likely.



Deane:
Unless you’re desperate for a character, like Martian Manhunter.

NEXT UP: Martian Manhunter.

Ha! No. Actually, we haven’t talked about it yet. 

But feel free to throw out some suggestions, of interesting characters with contrasting looks, folks!


 


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