My association with Starman goes back to 1974. I remember reading both “The Case of the Camera Curse!” (Adventure Comics #66) and “The Menace of the Invisible Raiders” (#67, first appearance of Starman’s arch villain The Mist) reprinted in two of those “100-Page Super-Spectaculars.” Unfortunately, Starman became one of those characters (along with Doll Man, Kid Eternity and Blackhawk) whose stories I would read only once as a kid. I didn’t think too much (or too often) about Starman for the next two decades, not until James Robinson’s post-Zero Hour series.

A couple of years after that series began, I responded to an ad in Comics Buyer’s Guide from a seller looking to get rid of a book I wanted. When I got in touch with him and discovered he lived only a half hour or so away, we decided to meet in person. He was in his 70s and was a big fan of the Justice Society of America having read their adventures in All-Star Comics during his boyhood. He was aware of Starman’s new popularity, but was unwilling to concede that there was anything special or overlooked in the Golden Age stories.

A couple of years later, DC released the first (of two) Golden Age Starman archives and I was able to read for myself that his assessment was correct. The stories were very well-drawn (by artist Jack Burnley), but they were deadly slow-moving, almost like drawing room dramas with a brightly-clad super-hero. Starman wasn’t given much of an origin in his first story (Adventure Comics #61), just a single page (a single panel, really) in which he reveals: “For thousands of years, man have spoken of the mysterious powers of the stars—but I am the first to discover that radiated starlight can be harnessed and used scientifically.” Starman’s complete origin story would not to be told until All-Star Squadron #41, but honestly, there’s nothing there that an imaginative kid of the ‘40s (or adult of any decade) couldn’t have figured out for himself. In his introduction to Golden Age Starman Archives v1, even Jack Burnley admitted: “I hope comics readers will give him a better reception in 2000 than he got from the kids nearly sixty years ago. The many followers of the ‘new’ Starman series can now see how he got his start.” My favorite stories of Ted Knight, the original Starman, are his three team-ups with the Black Canary (the third of which was revealed decades after the fact).

The first two were presented in The Brave & the Bold #61 and #62 (1965) by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson. Inspired by the new series, I bought the first of these as a backissue sometime between 1994 and 1997. [I didn’t notice until yesterday that B&B #61 incorporated the exact same origin panel from Adventure Comics #61.] Even though both characters were married at the time, it wasn’t too much of a reach to extrapolate that Starman and Black Canary were having sex “off panel.” My suspicions were confirmed in Starman Annual #2 (1997)… although how Jack Knight found out about it I have no idea.

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Nice summary of both Starman and your relationship to him, Jeff. Interesting to read.

My relationship is a bit more straightforward; I was introduced to the character in the early JLA/JSA crossovers, then the B&B team-ups with Black Canary (which I later read were try-outs for an ongoing series, as were the Dr. Fate/Hourman team-ups). Star-Spangled Kid became a legacy of sorts in the '70s All-Star revival with his Cosmic Converter Belt (or whatever he called it), adapting Starman's tech to fly, eventually calling himself Skyman (before being killed as the superfluous annoyance he was). Then there was the '90s Starman series by James Robinson. Later I got to read the Golden Age stories in the All-Star and Starman Archives.

Interspersed with the Ted Knight legacy characters were all the other Starmen DC trotted out, including Mikaal Tomas (1976), Prince Gavyn (1980) and Will Payton (1988). And, of course, I had been reading about Thom "Star Boy" Kallor since the early 1960s all along, not suspecting he would someday be called Starman, too -- and not in the far future, but in the present.

So, aside from the Golden Age adventures (and the pre-1963 Jay Garrick crossovers), I read everything in the order it was published.

Here are my thoughts, which aren't terribly different than yours:

1. I'm not always a fan of inserted continuity, but I mentally approved of the Starman-Black Canary-affair reveal in Robinson's Starman.

It was really odd when they teamed in the '60s, not only because the characters had no previous connection (they weren't even the JSA at the same time in the Golden Age), but as you noted, both were married to other people. And they kept throwing not only Canary's husband but Wildcat into the mix, operating on their own.

So it was all very odd from a reader's perspective, especially since Larry Lance kept operating solo, while Dinah and Ted were always together. It suggested that they were a couple, while Larry trying to break the case solo suggested that he and Dinah were on the outs, and he felt the need to do something to win her back.

None of that was intended, of course. Later years revealed the thinking behind teaming Starman and Black Canary, and it didn't go any farther than "it plays like Superman-Batman power-wise and the costumes look good together." But evidently Gardner Fox -- I assume it was Fox, without even looking it up -- felt the need to include Canary's husband (because sexism) and not Starman's wife (because sexism), and threw in Wildcat, which was also a try-out of sorts. (Wildcat also got a try-out in The Spectre and the occasional Brave & Bold. Evidently they had hopes for the character.) The end result was an unintended consequence, of an implied affair (at least to the Li'l Capn's eyes).

So it just feels true.

2. Didn't Ted Knight have some mental issues toward the end? I don't remember where that was revealed. Anyway, I always felt like Watchmen's Mothman, another Golden Age flying character with self-created tech and mental issues, was derived from that. Could be coincidence, though -- I've never read anything to corroborate my suspicion.

3. Robinson's Starman is justly praised, and if for nothing else, the invention of the 1951 Starman, Jack's (dead) older brother. I don't believe, prior to that series, that Starman's progeny had ever been revealed. So Robinson created both characters out of whole cloth, deciding how many kids Ted had, what gender they would be, and which, if any, would pick up the legacy. And it was beautiful work, fresh ground in almost every way.

4. Robinson's take on The Shade was equally fascinating. Just great work, taking a one-dimensional bad guy, growing out a unique back story, and deciding how that would shape his personality. It also explained, obliquely, how a character that powerful had never managed to kill a single superhero. It was because, of course, he wasn't really trying to. Again, beautiful work.

5. Burnley's art wasn't just terrific (and it was). Given the era he worked -- consider his "competitors" -- it was practically a revelation when I read the Archives. The writer on that series, whoever it was, should have been put against the wall and shot. Because Burnley's art was so good, a decent set of stories would have catapulted him into Superman-Batman territory. But no, dull stories killed the series.

6. I always thought, every time I saw Starman in flight that he ought to have a damn strap on the Gravity/Cosmic Rod, tied to his wrist. If the Rod was ever knocked out of his hand in aerial combat, he'd plunge to his death. That seemed a bad risk to take.

7. In Starman's first All-Star adventure -- I think it was his first -- he replaced Green Lantern, whose adventure in that issue had already been drawn. They just white-outed the ring, drew in a rod, and replaced the costume. Voila -- Starman, instead of Green Lantern. Just shows how poorly the stories were written then, that any flying character could just replace any other flying character without a re-write.

Oh, wait. It might have been the other way around. Well, I'm not going to look it up, because I remember seeing the white-outed pages in All-Star Companion or someplace. The two characters were exchanged once after the chapter had been drawn, which is shocking, when you think about it.

And the reason is that every All-Star chapter inevitably turned on punches instead of powers. No matter how weak or how powerful a character was, the solution to every problem was to wade in swinging. Even The Spectre! Man, they loved them some fisticuffs in the '40s. But it sure made for some dull stories.

8. I have loved the JSA ever since I laid eyes on them in Justice League of America #21. I always thought they had huge potential, especially after reading the All-Star Archives, where (as noted above) all the characters were pretty interchangeable and nothing much was done with each character's super-powers. (Those that had them.) So when Robinson started fleshing out JSA history and Golden Age concepts in Starman, I was thrilled. Ditto when Geoff Johns did the same in JSA in the '90s.

9. Speaking of my intro to the JSA, I was rabidly interested in finding out what each "new" character could do. I was a bit disappointed when it turned out so many members of the Justice Society really didn't have any super-powers, or had really mild ones like seeing in the dark -- roughly half of them.

As a youth, I divided the JSA into "punchy guys" and "powerhouses," because that's how they appeared to me.

Punchy guys were those that punched crime in the face until it fell down: Atom, Black Canary, Dr. Mid-Nite, Hawkman, Hourman, Mr. Terrific, Sandman, Wildcat.

Powerhouses were those could have just about ended every All-Star story on page 3, if Gardner Fox had let them cut loose: Dr. Fate, Flash, Green Lantern, Spectre, Starman, Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt, Wonder Woman.

Despite getting older and presumably more sophisticated, my brain still categorizes them that way. The first thing you learn is the last thing you forget.

Jack Knight heard about his father's affair with the original Black Canary from the Sandman of all people in Starman #21 (Au'96). Wes got a little chatty!

In those Brave & Bold issues, Ted Knight was treated as single. No wife was mentioned or inferred. In fact, it wasn't until America Vs The Justice Society that it was confirmed that Ted was married and his wife was a mystery.

Ted Knight's mental problems came from The Golden Age, a Elseworlds story that had some elements leak into continuity.

While Starman was featured in All Star Squadron, he was never a main character and I always felt that Roy Thomas didn't think much of him, writing him as a real bored playboy instead of pretending to be one and not creating the gravity/cosmic rod.

One thing though, that issue of All Star Comics #26 (Fall '45), one of the few with an "AA" logo not a "DC", had Green Lantern drawn to replace Starman so GL had the gravity rod in a couple of panels!

“Interspersed with the Ted Knight legacy characters were all the other Starmen DC trotted out…”

Lately I’ve been doing these “legacy” discussions (Sandmen, Hawkmen), so rest assured I’ll be getting to all those other “Starmen” sooner or later.

“Didn't Ted Knight have some mental issues toward the end?”

That’s from James Robinson’s Starman, but many details were revealed in The Golden Age, also by Robinson. Although The Golden Age was an ElseWorlds, Robinson has said that, as far as he’s concerned, all of Ted Knight’s backstory from that mini-series mirrors the mainstream DCU.

“I don't believe, prior to that series, that Starman's progeny had ever been revealed.”

Actually, David Knight was introduced in the Will Payton Starman series (which I will get to anon).

”The writer on that series, whoever it was, should have been put against the wall and shot.”

Actually, it was Gardner Fox. All except the first, anyway. Oddly, Jack Burnley was adamant in his archive introduction that Fox hadn’t written the first story. He remembered everyone else involved, and admitted Fox wrote the rest, but he was certain Fox didn’t write the first. He checked with the editor (I wanna say Whitney Ellsworth...?), but he didn’t remember, either. That very same archive does credit Fox with “all stories” so I guess we’ll never know for sure.

“Jack Knight heard about his father's affair with the original Black Canary from the Sandman of all people in Starman #21”

Oh, $#!t, I just read that last week. I think you’re right. Still, Jack revealed some details to Sadie (in the annual) that I’m sure Wesley Dodds couldn’t have know.

“No wife was mentioned or inferred.”

Yes, I believe you are correct about this, too. My only excuse is I’ve been reading so many comics of all Ages lately that I’m mixing up what I read where. But remember: the speaker implies; the listener infers.

I don't have Jeff's excuse, Philip, for forgetting so much. Thanks for plugging in the gaps/mistakes in my memory!

The only reason that I can think of to pair Starman and Black Canary was that they appeared together in Justice League of America #29-30 (Au-S'64) and that they, like Doctor Fate and Hourman, had no Earth-One counterparts. Sorry, Doctor Mid-Nite!

They did a sequel of sorts to the Brave & Bold stories in JLA #64 (Au'68) where the Justice Society roster consisted of the Astral Avenger and Blonde Bombshell with Showcase's Super-Team Supreme of Hourman and Doctor Fate plus the Golden Age Flash!

IIRC, wasn't this around the time DC paired Green Arrow with the Martian Manhunter? It seems to me as if they were trying hard to come up with another World's Finest pairing. 

B&B #50 (N'63) was eighteen months before the two JSA team-ups. 1965 was a big year for Earth-Two!

Randy Jackson said:

IIRC, wasn't this around the time DC paired Green Arrow with the Martian Manhunter? It seems to me as if they were trying hard to come up with another World's Finest pairing. 

Reading up on this, Starman and Dr Midnight joined the JSA in All-Star #8(DEC41/JAN42). They replaced Flash and Green Lantern because policy at the time said that if characters had their own books they didn't need to be in All-Star. Wonder Woman was the only exception to this rule.

Complicating this, the semi-autonomous DC/National and All-American comics companies both had characters in the JSA. When it was time to publish All-Star #24(SPRING1945) the two companies had a falling-out. Starman and The Spectre were DC/National characters so had to be removed from All-Star, an All-American title. Flash and Green Lantern were quickly brought back to the roster. I found this art-changed panel, which I think is from All-Star #26, showing Green Lantern holding Starman's Gravity Rod.

All-Star #27(WINTER1945) was the first issue to have the "Superman/DC" logo on the cover because All-American had been bought out, merging the companies as Detective Comics, Inc. Apparently, Starman and The Spectre didn't return to the JSA roster until the Silver Age.

That's one of the scenes I remember from some book where I saw panels like these described, and sometimes the original pencils shown, with white out erasing the Rod here and there, but not--obviously--everywhere. I'm guessing it was in All-Star Companion. But since I have four of them, and I already know from trying to look things up in them (they're basically compilations of Alter Ego articles) that it's impossible to find anything in them, that it's a waste of time to try. Even if I find it, I will have wasted more of my limited time on this planet than it's worth.

Actually the Flash left the JSA in All Star Comics #6 (S'41) and was replaced by fellow Flash Comics bunkmate, Johnny Thunder who was already hanging around!

All Star Comics #8 (Ja'42) did have Doctor Mid-Nite take Green Lantern's spot as both were in All American Comics so Starman actually replaced his fading Adventure Comics roomie, Hourman whose feature would end in 1943. Starman had taken over the cover of Adventure  as DC had high hopes for him. 

Sandman was already revamped in Adventure #69 (D'41) but those changes didn't appear in All Star until #10 (My'42).

Tony Isabella just put up a 1976 pitch for a solo Star Boy book on his blog. It's interesting stuff. 

"Expelled from the LEGION, alienated from the Science Police and the United Planet, STAR BOY stands alone to mete out galactic justice to villains who can topple worlds.

Will he succeed? Can one single hero outwit the underground empire and survive against such immensely powerful forces? If any one hero can win this seemingly endless war, that person is...

STAR BOY"

Hmmm. I can see why it wouldn't fly as it would affect the Legion too much but to this day, I'm surprised that no one ever thought to give Star Boy his original powers back, especially after Superboy was erased from the future.

But a 1976 Star Boy series? 1st Issue Special #12 (Ma'76) already had Gerry Conway's blue-skinned Starman that failed to find an audience and the Star Spangled Kid was a big part of All Star Comics.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Tony Isabella just put up a 1976 pitch for a solo Star Boy book on his blog. It's interesting stuff. 

"Expelled from the LEGION, alienated from the Science Police and the United Planet, STAR BOY stands alone to mete out galactic justice to villains who can topple worlds.

Will he succeed? Can one single hero outwit the underground empire and survive against such immensely powerful forces? If any one hero can win this seemingly endless war, that person is...

STAR BOY"

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