Sunday, March 28, 2010

Starman Rundown

Starman 101:

Theodore Knight- was an astronomer and physicist who developed a staff that can manipulate stellar energy. He decided to become a mystery man with it and joined the JSA. His cousin Sandra Knight, by coincidence, also became a "mystery man" [well woman] as the first Phantom Lady. He remained active until the JSA was forced into retirement in 1951. In his civilian identity he was involved in developing the atomic bomb and later suffered a breakdown over the guilt. He later resumed his superhero career along with many of his JSA colleagues. He was trapped in another dimension for several years and resumes his superhero career on an infrequent basis until his son David takes over. His first appearence was in Adventure Comics #61 (1941). He was created by Gardner Fox and Jack Burnley.

Starman of 1951- was an unidentified person who operated only in Opal City using star themed gimmicks. He only was seen for a year. [Batman had a brief identity as Starman in Detective Comics #247 (1957)

Mikaal Tomas/Michael Thomas "Blue Starman"- was an alien who came to Earth during the 70's to conquer it, but turned against his people to defend it. He was named Starman by people because of his blue skin. He wore a sonic crystal that later became embeded in his body and could fire a blast of energy. He first appeared in 1st Issue Special #12 (1976). He came from Talok III the sister planet (Talok VIII) of Shadow Lass from the Legion Of Super-Heroes.

Prince Gavyn- was created by Paul Levitz and Steve Ditko in Adventure Comics # 467 (1980). He is an alien from a world named Throneworld. He was a mutant who could survive in space, he then aquired wristbands and a staff which allowed him to channel cosmic energies. Originally he had a secret identity as a spoiled prince until his sister, who ruled, was assassinated. He supposedly died during the Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Will Payton- was an Earth man who gained super strength, durability, the ability to fly, shoot energy bolts and alter his appearence from a beam of light from outer space. He used these powers to become a superhero and took the name Starman. He was created by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle in Starman #1 (1988).

David Knight- first showed up to challenge Will Payton for using the Starman name in Starman #26 (1990). Payton was unaware of a Starman legacy, but a headstrong David started a fight. David lost the fight and realized that he had made a mistake in attacking Payton. He decided that he was not ready to be Starman yet and until he was, Payton would do the name justice. Then when Payton died he resumed his career only to be killed by the son of the Mist.

Jack Knight- reluctantly took up the mantle when his brother died. He was the main character of the series.

Thom Kalor/Danny Blaine- is the adult Star Boy of the Legion Of Super-Heroes from the 31st Century who came back in time. He spent time on Earth-22 (Kingdom Come) and is a current member of the JSA even though the time travel has given him some mental health problems.

Farris Knight- is a descendant of Jack Knight. He is from the 853rd Century and was seen as part of the DC One Million event in JLA #23 (1998)

The O'Dares- are a family of cops going back several generations in Opal City. William "Billy" O'Dare befriended Ted Knight when he was Starman. His sons and daughter all became cops and friends of the Knights. There is Clarence, Matt, Barry, Mason and Hope.

The Shade- started out as a Golden Age Flash Villain who had gained powers over an energy from another demension that appeared as shadows in ours. Alternating between vicious and rediculous in his crimes he never aged and had been made immortal by the same energy long before he encountered the Flash in the 40's. Whatever crimes he has committed or will commit, he would never break the law in Opal as he considers it his home. He also believes that Opal's most famous protector will be reincarnated and he thinks that Jack may be it.

The Savages- are another family that have been protectors of Opal through history. Brian "Scalphunter" Savage was raised by native Americans and became a lawman. He was sheriff of Opal during it's early days in the 1880's. His son Stephen Savage became a WWI hero and adventurer in the 20's known as Balloonbuster.

The Series (in TPB)

Sins Of The Fathers (Starman #0,1-5)- The Mist, a dying villain of the Golden Age Starman, launches one last crime spree trying to kill his old foe and his family and the city he loves. The Mist is helped by his son and daughter. When the current Starman, David Knight, is murdered his younger brother Jack is forced to pick up the mantle of his brother and father to prevent further attacks. He finds an ally in another villain, The Shade, who calls Opal City home. The Mist is defeated and is declared to have dementia. Then Jack receives a visit from the ghost of his brother.

Night And Day (Starman #7-10,12-16)- Jack finds the blue alien Starman of the seventies in a traveling freak show that has a sinister owner. Then Jack stumbles onto a gentle version of Solomon Grundy. And finally the Mist's daughter Nash escapes, goes through the same process that gave her dad powers and becomes the new Mist. She orchestrates a revenge plot. Revenge for the death of her brother at the hands of Jack Knight and for something that was taken from her father when several people were shown a "secret lair" of his by Ted Knight. This is played out over several issues that are the same day just from different peoples POV and includes a fight between the elderly Ted Knight and Dr Phosphorus and a gamot that she tests Jack with.

A Wicked Inclination (Starman #17, 19-27)- Jack investigates disappearences caused by a poster that is a gateway to hell (and the inspiration for Dorian Grey). He is sidetracked by David's ghost returning for a visit. This time he brings his mother along to see Jack. Then the Golden Age Sandman calls for some help in a case and Jack can't resist a team-up with the pulp hero. Returning to Opal Jack faces the demon responsible for the poster. And the Knights and O'Dares spend Christmas Eve together.

Times Past (Starman #6,11,18,28, Annual #1, Starman Secret Files #1)- These are a collection of one issue adventures in the past that had some bearing to the current story arc but were not a part of the arc itself. Jack and Ted each talk about their feelings about the other to a stranger. The Shade has an adventure in 1882 Paris. The fresh out of limbo JSA go after Rag Doll and his murderous cult. The Golden Age Starman and Mist meet for the first time and the secret lair is shown off to people who helped defeat the Mist (this leads to the events in Night and Day). In 1976 the Mikaal Starman battles another of his race. And in the 31st Century the Shade tells some children about the Prince Gavyn Starman and how the O'Dare and Knight families became friends

Infernal Devices (Starman #29-35, 37-38)- Introduces Jake "Bobo" Banetti, a super strong and near invulnerable foe of Starman's from the late 50's and early 60's(made up for this series). He is released from jail and instead of robbing a bank he ends up stopping one from being robbed. As a mad bomber threatens the city the ghost of Jon Valor, The Black Pirate asks help from Jack to release his trapped soul by solving the murder of his son. When Grundy is injured in a blast Jack inlists the aid of Sentinel, Batman and Jason Woodrue to enter the mind of Grundy to wake him up. Then during the final confrontation with the bomber he loses his powers (along with most DC heroes during the Genesis event) and the Shade saves the city. Finally the Mist relates her killing of a "Justice League" team to her infant son and reveals that he will soon meet his father.

To Reach The Stars (Starman Annual #2, #39-41, 43, 45, Power Of Shazam #35-36)- Jack meets a girl and falls in love. He tells her three stories about "heroes" and love while discussing their relation ship. He tells how Scalphunter met a rich society woman and they fell in love, but it ended when their worlds (high society and gunslinging) clashed. He then tells about his father's affair with the Golden Age Black Canary. Finally he tells her how his brother broke up with his fiance over being Starman. She then tells him that she is Will Payton's sister and she is certain he is alive and she asks Jack to find him. Jack first gets involved with proving that the WWII hero Bulletman is not a traitor after evidence is uncovered that he worked for the Nazis. Bulletman once saved Starman's life so both Ted and Jack feel they have a debt to repay. This brings Jack into conflict with Captain Marvel. Meanwhile the Shade helps Matt O'Dare to become clean by eliminating the mob that "owns" him. Then Jack makes preparations to leave on his quest to find Will Payton. He gets help from the JLA, a ship from the Shade (Verne/Wells like Victorean era rocket) and visits several people to make sure Opal is protected.

A Starry Knight (Starman #47-53) In space Mikaal and Jack find a version of Solomon Grundy. While Jack battles him David's ghost visits Mikaal. They then pass through a black cloud and find out they are in the 30th Century when they meet Star Boy and Shadow Lass. They find out that the dark cloud that brought them here has engulfed Star Boy's home planet. When trying to return to their present they overshoot and arreive on Krypton and meet a young Jor-El. They escape ending up in a zoo and return to the correct time, but not before Jack helps nudge history. They then land on Rann and help Adam Strange when an old enemy of Mikaal's kidnaps his daughter Aleea.

Stars My Destination (Starman #55-60) Starts off withan alien who changes stories of a battle envolving Starman (Kirby homage included). Then the story goes to Earth and all the heroes that are protecting Opal while Jack is away. Then the "true" events of that story unfold as Jack and Mikaal find out someone has taken over Throneworld by marrying Gavyn's widow. They join a rag tag resistance group including Fastbak of the New Gods and Tigorr of the Omega Men. They find Will Payton, who is also Prince Gavyn and restore him to the throne. Sardath then sends Jack and Mikaal back to Earth via Zeta Beam.

Grand Guignol (Starman #61-73) Jack returns and then goes off to the first few JSA adventures. When he returns Opal is a mess under seige by the Shade and a bunch of criminals he has recruited including Grundy and the Mist II. It turns out that the Shade is being controled by his enemy, Culp, who shares the same source for powers. Over the centuries he has been able to take periodic control over Shade which accounts for his strange behavior. Now he wants to be in control for good and take over Opal City. He has been manipulating people since the start of the series and has had Barry O'Dare in his pocket. Amidst the chaos, Ted remembers when the wives and girlfriends including his future wife of the JSA donned versions of their costumes to rescue them. The heroes finally turn the tide against Culp, after Adam Strange and Gavyn/Payton arrive with help from Rann and Throneworld. The Mist suddenly reappears with his full mind and kills Culp after his powers are removed. The Mist announces he plans to destroy Opal City with a nuke. And a Starman makes the ultimate sacrifice for the city. The city then has the funeral for the fallen Starman.

{Grand Guignol is a term from a French theatre. It is became used to describe a certain style of play that was popular at the turn of the century in Paris. These were pieces that had characters involved in the midst of some horrific calamity that often claimed the lives of the characters at the climax in a naturalistic way with realistic stage effects.}

Sons Of The Father (Starman #74-80) Jack is left without a father and with a child. He comes to terms with this and the fact that his girlfriend has left Opal. He then goes into the past to find out who the Starman of 1951 is. Once he has finished his adventure in the past, Jack decides that Opal is safe and he can find his girlfriend and live a normal life. He gives his cosmic staff to Courtney Whitmore to carry on the Knight legacy and she changes her name to Stargirl.

Issues # 36,42,44 and 54 are not reprinted. They were more Times Past stories. In order, they are a Will Payton Starman and Batman story, a GA Starman and Demon story, a GA Starman and Phantom Lady story and a Scalphunter story.

Further Reading:

See JSA Rundown

The Shade #1-4 (1996) mini series

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1-14 or Vol. 1 & 2 TPB

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