The Small Lebowski:
Characters Appearing: Dr. Strange, Geatar, Hulk, Northstar, Nova (Rich Rider), Thanos
Secret Defenders #11
Issue(s): Secret Defenders #11
Dr. Strange does show up in astral form, but he's not in a good mood.
Nova tells Strange about the robot. Strange tells Nova to keep tracking it, and he'll send help "when I'm able". That help comes in the form of Northstar.
Yes, the art in this is terrible.
Northstar is faster than Nova, so they are able to keep up with the robot, with Nova riding Northstar's slipstream. But neither are powerful enough to stop it. So Dr. Strange later brings in the Hulk.
This was the only issue of Starblast that i read in realtime - i bought it for the Hulk appearance, because i apparently never learned - and there was nothing here that made me want to read the rest of the crossover. There's nothing here that feeds back into the larger story. Not even a next chapter blurb. For years i assumed that Starblast was a bunch of random fights with robots. Granted, if i knew that Starblast related to the Starbrand and the New Universe, it wouldn't have made it more likely that i picked the rest of it up. And Tom Grindberg's art is so unappealing here, such a poor fit both as a sci-fi adventure and as a match to the light, quippy dialogue, that it really just made me want to close the issue and forget about it (for what it's worth, it seems there were deadline issues based on the "and company" credit for the inks). But it's still amazing how little was done to channel readers towards the rest of Starblast.
Regarding Dr. Strange, his appearance here feels really incongruous based on what had been published so far in his own title. Never mind the larger continuity issues that i deal with in the Considerations section below. Dr. Strange's house was destroyed in Siege of Darkness, and in that same crossover Dr. Strange was replaced with the entity known only as "Strange". Now, later Dr. Strange issues (and other Midnight Sons titles) will show that Strange's astral form was still around (albeit beardless). But at the time of publication that wasn't seen yet. It is possible to squeeze this in during Siege (more on that below), but at the 1,000 foot level, i.e. to an average reader, this feels badly coordinated.
To avoid that going forward, the next Secret Defenders arc will avoid the use of Dr. Strange in a fun way. There's a set-up for that at the end of this issue.
I dinged Grindberg's art as a bad fit for this story and just for generally not looking very good. But i do like the way he conveys Geatar's emotions while he's considering his options in accepting Thanos' help.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part three of Starblast. Part four is in Starblast #2.
As noted in the last Secret Defenders entry, we don't know how much atmosphere Geatar had in his suit, so we can let him float in space for as long as we need to. Thanos' appearance by necessity takes place after Blood and Thunder due to Dr. Strange's status.
Nova's costume is colored incorrectly. The bands that should be red are colored yellow. But they are there, just miscolored. And the red was visible in his earlier appearances in this crossover. Hulk and Northstar's appearances are context free.
As for Dr. Strange, his appearance here is at the crux of the continuity conundrum between Starblast, Blood and Thunder, and Siege of Darkness. First, it's worth noting that he's appearing here as "Dr." Strange, and his astral projection is showing facial hair. Not only does Dr. Strange more or less get replaced by the masked "Strange" entity in Doctor Strange #61, but Dr. Strange shaves in that story, and when we do see Dr. Strange's astral form again after Siege of Darkness (e.g. in Nightstalkers #16), his face is clean-shaven. So this issue definitely takes place after Blood and Thunder (since Dr. Strange was in that crossover, was "normal", and his house was still standing). It definitely takes place after Doctor Strange #60, when his house was destroyed, and that is part 7/17 of Siege of Darkness. But it takes place before Doctor Strange #61, which is part 15/17 of Siege. So this issue, at least, takes place some time during Siege of Darkness. A good spot seems to be circa Marvel Comics Presents #145, when Strange is coordinating the Midnight Sons while they are split up into subgroups. He can be managing this Secret Defenders configuration at the same time.
Even sticking this in the middle of Siege of Darkness doesn't (by itself) remove the need for a gap in Starblast. As i've stated in previous entries, we know that the early part of Blood and Thunder takes place before and concurrently with the early part of Starblast (thanks to the coordination around Warlock). It's possible to say that the rest of Blood and Thunder takes place at the same time as the rest of Starblast, but Siege of Darkness definitely has to take place after Blood and Thunder, because Dr. Strange appears in both B&T and Siege, with the major status quo changes for him happening in Siege. So it's linear for him, not concurrent. So it would seem that there has to be a gap in Starblast while at least the first 7 issues of Siege of Darkness happen.
BUT... that's really only applicable to Secret Defenders #11. As i noted in Starblast #1's entry, the fact that this is labeled as a part x of y crossover doesn't really make it so. Nothing that occurs here has any bearing on the rest of Starblast. The robot could have been a sleeper that didn't get activated right away. It's all a matter of how long the Starblasters' robot slept before it activated, and how long Nova was chasing it before going to Dr. Strange for help. If you took Secret Defenders #11 out of the equation, you could say that the rest of Starblast occurs concurrently with both B&T and Siege. And then you could say that this issue just takes place later than the rest of Starblast. It wouldn't affect the Starblast story at all. So we could potentially at least shorten the gap during Starblast by placing the rest of Starblast (or at least the Quasar/Starblast issues) out of order, before this issue.
But i'm hesitant to unilaterally go against the official numbering of the crossover. I do intend to do something unorthodox with regard to the two "streams" of the later Starblast issues (Quasar/Starblast and Namor/Fantastic Four). But i don't want to go totally out of order. And i've already identified where there can be a gap in part 2 of Starblast, Quasar #54, while the characters are traveling into deep space. I also think just for general readability it makes more sense to let the rest of Siege play out, and then get back to Starblast, rather than trying to intersperse individual issues of the crossovers. So i am going to drop this issue in the middle of Siege, which is necessary. And then i'll place the rest of Siege and then get back to Starblast. If you're thinking about it as a timeline, you can still assume that the remainder of Starblast is happening concurrently with Siege. But the physical issues have to be placed in some kind of order, and i think it's more desirable to read large chunks of related issues all at once with the understanding that they're happening concurrently with the other events.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
At the MCP we assumed that poor Rich was chasing the robot a LONG time.
Posted by: Michael | March 27, 2017 11:25 PM
Plus, if the Star Masters left the robot as a distraction to dissuade pursuit, it doesn't make sense for it to be a sleeper.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 28, 2017 12:15 AM
What a mess... no, not Tom Grindberg's artwork, which I find oddly endearing, but the continuity between the THREE bloated crossovers that Marvel was running simultaneously. Okay, most casual readers don't really give the working out of the chronology of these issues anywhere near as much thought as people like fnord. But the simple fact that Marvel had THREE separate crossovers involving multiple titles going on at the exact same time is crazy. It's no wonder that this is just a few short months before the majority of their line suffers a major implosion.
By the way, considering that it takes a majorly-unimpressed Hulk only a few seconds to destroy the Starblasters' robot, it sort of feels like Ron Marz is taking the piss out of the pointlessness of this whole crossover and its villains. I might be more amused if Marz wasn't simultaneously eating up thirteen whole issues having Crazy Thor and his imaginary girlfriend beating up a bunch of cosmic-powered characters.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 28, 2017 3:57 PM
Its trigger could have malfunctioned.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 28, 2017 4:44 PM
@Ben- the implosion was beginning as these crossovers took place. Darkhold was cancelled during the Midnight Sons crossover, Quasar was cancelled a few months after Starblast, etc.
Posted by: Michael | March 28, 2017 10:38 PM
@Ben Herman: Perhaps Marz could only fully concentrate on one crossover at a time?
Posted by: D09 | March 30, 2017 3:00 PM
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