Starman

Ted Knight created by Gardner Fox and unknown & Jack Burnley
Jack Knight created by James Robinson & Tony Harris

Starman I

NAME + ALIASES:
Theodore "Ted" Knight

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Adele Doris Drew (wife, deceased), David (Starman VI, deceased), Jack (Starman VII, son), Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady, cousin)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice Society of America

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Adventure Comics #61 (April 1941)

Starman VII

NAME + ALIASES:
Jack Knight

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Ted Knight (Starman I, father, deceased), Adele (mother, deceased), David Knight (Starman VI, deceased), Kyle Theo (son), Jayne Payton aka Sadie Falk (wife)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice Society of America

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Zero Hour #1 (Sept. 1994)

History

Theodore Knight was a brilliant scientist who discovered a source of near-limitless cosmic energy in the stars. It took him some time to refine the ability to harness this energy. He first applyied for a government grant to perfect the alloy needed to collect his newly discovered cosmic energy. During this, he met his future colleague, Wes Dodds (the Sandman). The Sandman had recently encountered a saboteur who called himself "Jonathan Smythe." Ted helped Wesley defeat Smythe, whose body was turned into gas by his own invention. (Sandman Mystery Theatre #38-40) Later, Smythe would reappear as Ted's greatest enemy, the Mist.

1939 was a pivotal year for Ted. He went on to serve President Roosevelt's as the United States anticipated the coming of war. He contributed to early research efforts alongside Albert Einstein, which ultimately led to the creation of nuclear weapons. (Starman Secret Files #1) Then later in the year, he sought help from his cousin Sandra's colleague, Professor Davis, to harness cosmic energy with his new "gravity rod." (All-Star Squadron #41, Starman SF #1) Davis' assistance allowed Ted to perfect his technology, and he soon found himself using the gravity rod to fight crime as Starman. (Adventure #61)

He became an early member of the Justice Society of America (All-Star #8) and served with them throughout the war, but took himself off full-time duty afterwards. (#24) Regardless, he frequently assisted the JSA in various cases. And he eventually upgraded his gravity rod to the newer "cosmic rod."

But even the brightest minds and bravest souls sometimes fall prey to life's horrors. In 1951, Ted was dealt a double blow. It began with the murder of his girlfriend, Doris Lee. The resulting depression was compounded by the guilt that Ted felt over his involvement in the creation of the atomic bomb. He suffered a breakdown and was institutionalized. In his absence, Charles McNider (Dr. Mid-Nite) — with the help of Robotman and the Red Torpedo — used Ted's technology to create a new champion for Opal City, Starman II. McNider gave up the role and trained David Knight, Ted's son from the future, when he mysteriously appeared in Opal. (Starman v.2 #77)

Truly, Ted was saved by his own legacy. While in treatment, he received a visit from Courtney Whitmore (Stargirl), another hero from the future. Courtney convinced him to resume his role as Starman in order to help defeat Per Degaton. (JSA #69-72) David Knight was returned to the future by Ted's other son, Jack. Before leaving that era, the brothers (along with Hourman, Charles McNider and Wesley Dodds) stopped the Mist from terrorizing Opal City with LSD. (Starman #78-79)

Ted conquered his demons and met another woman, Adele Doris Drew. The two married shortly thereafter. (Secret Files) They were happily married, but in the heat of battle, Ted also had an affair with his colleague, the Black Canary. They ended their liaison after after a criminal nearly exposed the affair. After this, Adele became pregnant with their first child and Ted became a faithful father and husband. (Starman Annual #2)

Quite early on, Ted guessed that his first son, David, would make a fine Starman someday. In the meantime, another hero benefitted from Ted's technology: Sylvester Pemberton, the Star-Spangled Kid. Sylvester converted the rod into a belt and joined the Justice Society. (All-Star #58) Ted also himself continued to take part in adventures from time to time, including the Justice Society/Justice League team-ups.

Darkness followed this hero of the light. Flash's foe, the Rag Doll, had founded a cult and slayed the family of a famous actor. Starman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wildcat and Dr. Mid-Nite hunted him down and the villain was slain with Starman's cosmic rod. The next day, the three JSAers removed his body from the morgue so that the cause of his death will not be publicly revealed. (In truth, Rag Doll's followers rescued his body and nursed him to health.) (Starman #9, 11, 67-68)

Following the so-called "Crisis," the entire Justice Society voluntarily left to fight an endless battle in another dimension called Limbo. In Ted's absence, David Knight began experimenting with using the cosmic rod. In his first adventure, the Mist (calling himself Nimbus), manipulated David into clashing with the other Starman of the day, Will Payton (Starman V). (Starman v.1 #26-27) The JSA eventually returned from Limbo and Ted shared several adventures with them — until their most tragic hour. The villain called Extant murdered three JSAers and Ted officially retired, passing the mantle on to David (Starman VI). (Zero Hour #1)

David Knight was killed in battle after only a week in action by the Mist's son, Kyle. But thanks to the magic of Kent Nelson (Dr. Fate), David was transported from the moment of his death back to 1951, where he served as Starman while his father was institutionalized. (Starman #76) Fate's magic also kept David's spirit around to guide his younger brother, Jack. After David's death, Jack took revenge on the family of the Mist and reluctantly became Starman VII. But the Mist's daughter, Nash, was also bent on revenge against the Knights for her brother's death. She used her father's technology to became the second Mist. (#0)

Jack's journey led him to discover Mikaal Tomas, the alien Starman (III), who was being held prisoner by a corrupt circus owner. (#7) Tomas became one of Jack's best friends. In continuing to track down the Mist; he sought out Wesley Dodds and his partner, Dian Belmont. (#20-24) He also received advice from dead JSAers, thanks to David's lingering spirit. (#37)

Sylvester Pemberton and Jack Knight leave one another with the seeds of inspiration. From Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (1999); art by Chris Weston and John Stokes.

The Mist's destiny was officially tied to the Knights' when Nash kidnapped Jack and impregnated herself with his semen. She used their son, Kyle Theo, as another taunt against Jack. Everything culminated in a grand scheme where the Mist amassed an army of villains to terrorize Opal City. Jack and Ted gained the upper hand, but Ted was forced to sacrifice his own life (and that of the elder Mist) to remove a nuclear bomb to explode in space.

Just before this, the Mist killed Nash, which finally left Jack in custody of his infant son. (#72) After Ted's funeral, Jack learned that his girlfriend, Sadie Falk, was pregnant with his child. Their relationship had been strained by the revelation that she had misled Jack about her identity (she was Will Payton's sister, and wanted Jack to help her find him). But afterwards, Jack realized that Sadie was the girl for him and proposed marriage. He retired as Starman, bequeathed his staff to Courtney Whitmore, the second Star-Spangled Kid. (#73)

Jack was also a founding member of the newly reformed Justice Society, but his tenure was short.

As for the other Starmen, Mikaal Tomas learned that he was destined to return to the stars. Will Payton was killed by Eclipso, but his spirit merged with another outer space Starman: Prince Gavyn of the Throneworld. Jack discovered this when Sadie (who was actually Jayne Payton, Will's sister) approached him for help finding Will.

Ted Knight's legacy is said to reacy far into the future. He was once paid a visit from Farris Knight, the Starman of the 853rd Century. Farris told Ted of his millennia-long legacy and confessed that he had betrayed the Justice Legion to their enemy Solaris. After talking to Ted, Farris decided to do the right thing and sacrificed his own life in the battle. (Starman One Million)

In Jack's absence, an eighth Starman has mysteriously appeared. This hero exhibits heroic tendencies, but schitzoid tendencies. Could he be Thom Kallor, Star Boy from the 30th century Legion of Super-Heroes, as Kallor himself told Jack Knight (Starman v.2 #50, 80)?

Special thanks to Tom Morrow

   

The Starman of 1951: Charles McNider, Starman II (Starman v.2 #77), then David Knight, Starman VI (Starman v.1 #26)

Starman III,
Mikaal Tomas (
First Issue Special #12)

Starman IV,
Prince Gavyn of Throneworld (Adventure Comics #467)

Starman V,
Will Payton (Starman v.1 #1)

Notes

Ted Knight's personal history was altered by the reorganization of history that resulted from Zero Hour. In pre-Zero Hour continuity, Ted married his girlfriend Doris Lee in the late forties. They had no children and Doris died sometime before Ted returned to the Justice Society as Starman.

Ted's pre-Crisis origin was never told before All-Star Squadron #41. The post-Crisis revision arose from Sandman Mystery Theatre #38 and Starman Secret Files #1. Originally, Ted Knight was little more than a playboy and his friend Professor Davis discovered the cosmic energy, not Ted himself. He also decided to become Starman because he was inspired by an encounter with Batman and Robin.

The Starman of 1951 (Starman II) may be inspired by a pre-Crisis Batman story. In Detective #247 (1957), "The Man Who Ended Batman's Career," mad scientist Professor Milo causes Batman to develop a phobia against bats. Unable to continue as Batman, he adopts the identity of "Starman," armed with an array of star-gizmos, including a star-shaped aircraft.

+ Powers

Starman was a brilliant physicist and a good fighter. He used a cosmic rod, which allowed him to fly, shoot bolts of cosmic energy, and repel attacks. Earlier in his career he used a less powerful version of the cosmic rod, called a gravity rod.

Each person who weilds the cosmic energy does so to slightly different effect. The energy is partially controlled by the mind, using the technology in the cosmic rod/belt/staff.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:  

  • All-Star Comics #8-23
  • Brave & Bold #182
  • Flash v.2 #134

» SERIES:

  • Adventure Comics #61-102 (April 1941 – Feb./Mar. 1946)
  • Starman v.2, 80 issues (1994-2001)