Comicbook / Starman

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Jack Knight as Starman, in his Civvie Spandex.

James Robinson's most famous series for DC Comics, Starman was one of the steps away from the Nineties Anti-Hero and into The Modern Age of Comic Books. The series followed Legacy Character Jack Knight, son of the Golden Age Starman (there were plenty of others) and something of an Author Avatar. Jack is a reluctant newcomer at first, but over the course of the series, his character develops into something akin to old-school heroes while maintaining a distinct personality.

Starman is also notable for Robinson's dusting off of plenty of older characters. Golden Age Card-Carrying Villain The Shade, for instance, returned as an Anti-Hero, complete with Belated Backstory. The entire Starman legacy was touched upon, with most of the characters involved (especially the original, Ted Knight) growing out of the one-note molds from their original stories. Along the way, Ted Knight's colleagues in the Justice Society of America were highlighted and brought back to prominence, eventually leading to the highly popular JSA title. (Jack was briefly a member, and new-JSA founder Stargirl carries on his legacy.)

Jack Knight first appeared in Zero Hour #1 (September, 1994) and soon graduated to his own title. The ongoing lasted for 81 regular issues (October, 1994-August, 2001), though numbering begun with #0. Starman was also one of the series revived as part of the Blackest Night event.
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    List of Starmen 
The book makes extensive use of previous Starmen. For a brief list:
  • Ted Knight. The original Starman, created by DC editorial and Jack Burnley, who also drew the series for a long time. First appeared in Adventure Comics #61 (April, 1941). Ted was an amateur astronomer who invented the gravity rod when he discovered that he could collect a certain type of cosmic ray as a power source. In his solo career, Ted often worked with FBI chief Woodley Allen to stop various crimes and catastrophes. He also served as a member of the Justice Society of America. Father of Jack.
  • Starman of 1951. A mysterious character taking up the identity. Eventually revealed to be Doctor Mid-Nite/Charles McNider, a fellow member of the JSA. The concept of an established hero using the Starman identity in the 1950s was inspired by Detective Comics #247 (September, 1957). In said story, Batman claims the mantle.
  • Mikaal Tomas. First appeared in First Issue Special #12 (March, 1976). A blue-skinned alien, scout of an invasion force. Decided to side with Earth against his people. Originally a one-shot character.
  • Prince Gavyn. First appeared in Adventure Comics #467 (January, 1980). A member of an alien royal family. Condemned to die to prevent him from claiming the throne against the senior heir. The near-death experience activated superpowers within him.
  • Will Payton. First appeared in Starman vol. 1 #1 (October, 1988). A regular human mutated by a space-faring bolt of energy.
  • David Knight. First appeared in Starman vol. 1 #26 (September, 1990). Son of Ted and older brother of Jack. Claimed the mantle of his father and served as a rival to Payton.
  • Jack Knight. First appeared in Zero Hour #1 (September, 1994). Son of Ted and younger brother of David. Took the mantle of Starman when David was killed in action.
  • Courtney Whitmore. First appeared in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July, 1999). A teenage superhero originally known as Star-Spangled Kid. After Jack Knight retired from superheroing, Courtney received his cosmic staff and mantle. She continues the Starman legacy as Stargirl.
  • Thom Kallor: First appeared in Adventure Comics #282 (March, 1961). First debuting as Star Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes, at least two versions of Star Boy have become Starman. One version eventually went back in time and joined the JSA.
  • Farris Knight: First appeared in JLA #23 (October, 1998). The Starman of the 853rd Century, whose great-grandfather restored the Starman legacy. His discontent at being expected to take the mantle and live up to his ancestors eventually caused him to turn traitor, but speaking with his ancient ancestor Ted Knight awakened his desire to do good, and he sacrificed his life to redeem himself.

This series contains instances of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: [[spoiler:After believing Prince Gavyn dead, Lady Merria eventually married his best friend Jediah Rikane. This turns out to have been a terrible mistake, and not just the way you may be thinking.
  • Accent Relapse: After learning about his past life as Scalphunter Matt O'Dare slips into a Western accent more and more often as he speaks.
  • Action Girl: Hope O'Dare.
  • Addiction Displacement: Mikaal's race has a biological need for conquest and battle, which he displaced with sex and drugs back in the 70's. Lots and lots of sex and drugs.
  • The Alcoholic: Billy O'Dare was this, to the point that it wrecked his health, though it didn't affect his quality as a cop or a father.
  • All There in the Manual: Important bits of backstory which pay off in the "Grand Guignol" arc are found only in the first Shade miniseries and in various text stories, not to mention the re-used backstory from Robinson's The Golden Age miniseries.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: The Mist and his children appear somewhat...off.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Sans his memories, Mikaal is a calm, gentle soul...from a Proud Warrior Race Guy civilization of conquerors. When his memories are restored, his personality undergoes a change that threatens to alienate him from his boyfriend.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Black Condor
  • Anti-Hero: The Shade.
    • Jack starts out at this, but by series end is sort of an anti-anti-hero.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Mist. But in one conversation with his dad, Jack names a rival junk dealer as his Arch-Nemesis.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During the first arc, Jack asks Nash what reason she, specifically, has to kill him when she has a gun pointed to his head. She lets him go. He then proceeds to give her a pretty damn good reason by killing her brother.
  • Artists Are Not Architects: Used deliberately. Robinson goes for a retro look, and relies on Rule of Cool with some Handwave explanations.
  • Art Shift: During the "Sand and Stars" story a flashback to the early days of Ted Knight and Wesley Dodds (The Sandman) was drawn by Guy Davis, matching his work on Sandman Mystery Theatre.
  • Author Avatar: Jack Knight, was blatantly and unabashedly a dual creator avatar. The first volume's introduction has a third party writer note that Jack is writer James Robinson and that he bears a strong resemblance to artist and designer Tony Harris.
  • Author Tract: The series featured a scene where Solomon Grundy referred to Alan Scott as "Green Lantern" despite the fact that he was going by the name "Sentinel" at the time (as editorial decreed Kyle Rayner was the only hero allowed to use the GL name). Upon being corrected, Grundy shrugs and says he'll always consider Alan to be Green Lantern no matter what anyone else says.
  • Avenging the Villain: Nash takes up the identity of The Mist and becomes Jack's archenemy after he kills her brother Kyle.
  • Badass Family: The O'Dares and the Knights.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: The Black Pirate, hanged for a crime he didn't commit, curses Port O' Souls, the settlement that would eventually become Opal City, so that anyone who dies there will be unable to find rest until his name is cleared. A few hundred years later, Culp is able to use the thousands of souls trapped in Opal for his own evil purposes, until the truth is revealed.
  • Belated Backstory: The Shade, as mentioned above.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Culp prefers to speak in French, and his lines (and those of the characters who respond to him in kind) go untranslated.
  • Bi the Way:
    • Mikaal Tomas mentions that as an alien, he doesn't subscribe to human views of sexuality.
    • Nash (Mist II) sleeps with men and women to manipulate them.
  • Blood Knight: Hourman was addicted to the thrill of superheroism as much as Miraclo, neglecting the other parts of his life. He warns Jack about going down the same path.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Heavily implied between the Mist's children Nash and Kyle in issue 3.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Mason for the very, very patient Charity.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Mist. Both of them.
  • Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate: In Starman #13, one of the Mist's goons has a bizarre conversation with the captive Mikaal about who the best big screen Philip Marlowe was. He then admits that he once murdered a man for daring to claim it was George Montgomery.
  • City of Adventure: Opal City.
  • Civvie Spandex: Jack's superhero suit consists of a leather jacket, a pair of goggles and whatever else he happens to be wearing at the time.
  • Clear My Name: Jack and Captain Marvel are called on to clear the name of the aging Bulletman, who stands accused of being a Nazi agent during World War II.
    • This is why the Pirate Ghost is watching and helping Starman; he says he wasn't guilty of the crime he was accused of.
  • Closed Circle: The final arc has a shield placed around the whole city to keep anyone but the heroes of the story out.
  • Comically Missing the Point: This exchange:
    Jack: This one isn't about collectibles but it's the same kind of thing. I'm in a book store ... for new books. I've gone a little bit crazy and I'm about to spend a couple of hundred bucks. I murmur under my breath "money's too tight to mention". Now the guy behind the register, he hears this. He looks at me, nodding his head knowingly like we're in some "club of cool" together. He says, "Yeah, Simply Red" like it's a password, and now we do the secret handshake. And I'm thinking "Simply Red"? Lame English band. More soul at a polka convention. And the book store guy thinks he's on some kind of inside loop with that.
    Sadie: That's the smuggest thing I ever heard. A guy tries to be nice and you stand there hating him just because he hasn't heard of the Valentine Brothers. You're like my ex-boyfriend. He was that way about authors. He'd deliberately drop obscure quotes and references. He'd take over conversations at parties. But none of what he read was for the love of it. His knowledge was like a weapon. Don't tell me you're like that. I don't want another jerk. I've had... Hey, why are you smiling?
    Jack: Because you've heard of the Valentine Brothers.
  • Continuity Porn: Perhaps the poster child for this trope in DC comic books. Notably, not only does Starman rely on the greater DC canon, but it has its own strong internal canon as demonstrated in the last few arcs, wherein every Checkhov's Gun is set off.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: After Grundy is nearly killed, Ted finds himself watching over him, reflecting out loud about how conflicted he feels taking in the person who killed his friend and protegé Skyman, but who seems child-like and innocent now. Grundy's not actually unconscious.
  • Cool Old Guy: Both Ted Knight and Wesley Dodds qualify in spades.
  • Cowboy Cop: Played with with Mason O'Dare. He won't break the law, but he will endanger himself pulling crazy stunts to get a collar.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Jack's first encounter with Sadie is when he bumps into her at a carnival. She chews him out and is gone in two panels.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Shade, ultimately.
  • Dating Catwoman: Averted. Jack's archenemy, the Mist, raped him and gave birth to his son without his knowledge. She frequently talks like they have a Foe Yay relationship going on, but he knows full well how disturbed she is and just wants to get his child away from her.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Nash names her and Jack's son after her brother and his father.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Every real-time year included one issue where Jack talked to his brother, who died in the first issue. Later conversations would also include other deceased DC characters, including their father Ted.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Shade.
    • Jack gets in plenty of riffs of his own as well.
  • Death Equals Redemption:
    • After dying, Kyle meets Jack in the afterlife, and is perfectly sane and stable, explaining that his former life of evil was purely a result of his horrible upbringing, and apologizes to Jack for making him a killer.
    • After her father shoots her, Nash experiences a moment of clarity and calmly hands Kyle Theo over to Jack before dying.
    • The Mist himself comes to realize that his life as a villain was pointless, and shares a last handshake with Ted before they die.
    • David Knight was something of a pompous ass in life. After his tenure as the Starman of 1951, and a stint in the afterlife, he's a lot nicer.
  • Death by Origin Story: Played with. David Knight dies in the first issue after doing nothing of note (apart from fighting the Will Payton Starman), but Jack takes an entire story arc before taking up the mantle. David becomes more interesting after his death, popping up in the annual "Talking With David" stories and even getting his own story arc at the close of the series.
  • Death Is Cheap: Jack's back before the end of one issue via a body made out of new body parts.
  • Declining Promotion: Mason O'Dare has frequently refused to be promoted above a beat cop, like his father, but Charity reveals that he'll be a plainclothes officer within five years. Probably because of their kid.
  • Depraved Bisexual: While in prison early in the series the Mist seduces both guards and fellow (female) prisoners, just to get them under her thumb.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Matt O'Dare starts out as reluctant one of these but changes his life after learning that he's the reincarnation of Wild West hero Scalphunter.
    • Barry O'Dare turns out to have been one of these, as well, with no reluctance whatsoever.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Averted with Stargirl, who only took the name after Jack retired; she was Star-Spangled Kid when they first met.
    • Played straight with the one-off "Stargirl" of the 1940s, who was Ted Knight's girlfriend.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted with the revelation that The Mist raped Jack while he was unconscious, which is very unsettling for him. A lot of his angst comes from the fact that The Mist also got pregnant and plans to raise the child to become a villain, but the rape angle isn't played lightly either.
  • Dying as Yourself: Jediah Rikane became a power-mad tyrant and tried to kill his old friend Prince Gavyn, but as Gavyn burns him to death he seems to finally snap out of it. His last words: "Long live Prince Gavyn.". He's even smiling while he says it.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Jake Benetti hates the nickname the cops gave him. Unfortunately, "Bobo" stuck.
  • Emotion Eater: Bliss is an incubus who feeds on suffering, and especially likes the flavor of the suffering of "special people" (circus freaks).
  • Eviler Than Thou: Double Subverted. For all her talk of becoming a brilliant villain, it seems like Nash is reduced to a mere lackey for Culp...until it turns out she and her father The Mist were playing him. But suddenly The Mist reveals that the plans to destroy all of Opal City, Nash and her son included, and then shoots her after he convinces her to give him her gun.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Jediah Rikane, once one of Prince Gavyn's most loyal allies, found the taste of power he got after from marrying Lady Merria to his liking and quickly became a tyrant.
    • Medphyl, former Green Lantern, sides with Rikane in exchange for a planet of his own.
    • Barry O'Dare is offered a place in Culp's organization, and readily accepts.
  • Fan of the Past: Jack.
  • Flying Firepower:
    • Mikail Tomas: the current Starman has a body which is specifically built for outer space. In addition to being able to fly and survive in a vacuum, he can project energy blasts.
    • David Knight: Starman II, uses the Gravity Rod, which grants flight and the ability to absorb and fire solar energy.
    • The Cosmic Staff, the main weapon used by Starman III (Jack Knight) and Stargirl, grants flight and the ability to project cosmic energy.
    • Ted Knight: the original Starman, used both of the aforementioned weapons.
    • Farris Knight: uses the Quarvat, a mysterious device of unknown origin.
  • Fight In The Nude: The Mist kidnaps, drugs, and rapes Jack, takes his clothes and his gear, and forces him to fight through a maze full of mooks. He succeeds.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Merritt's been absorbing people into his poster for over one hundred fifty years, and when his demon is defeated, all of them are restored to the modern world at once.
  • Flashback: If we had a Loads and Loads of Flashbacks trope, this would qualify.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Ted Knight
  • Foe Yay: In-universe. After becoming the new Mist, Nash refers to Jack as "my love" several times. It's completely unrequited.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Etrigan appears to Ted Knight in 1944, and when the scientist in Ted refuses to believe he's a demon, Etrigan tells him of the hell he'll suffer when his involvement with the Manhattan Project bears fruition. The revelation of the supernatural might have compounded Ted's guilt and helped break him.
    • When we get a glimpse into Barry O'Dare's POV, we see that he thinks of himself as the Only Sane Man of the family, who never takes risks and doesn't stick his neck out. We get to see just how different he is from the other O'Dares during the Grand Guignol arc, when he joins Culp's takeover of Opal City and kills his brother Matt.
    • The betrayal of Medphyl foreshadows the betrayal of Barry O'Dare. Both were police (or the equivalent in Medphyl's case), both turned traitor when offered power and wealth, and both express their surprise at just how easy it was for them to accept.
  • Formerly Fat: Barry O'Dare.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Ted again
  • Gentleman Adventurer: The Shade notes that Merritt's exploits over 150 years of life would be quite admirable...if it weren't for that whole "feed people to the demon in my poster" thing.
  • Ghost Pirate: The Black Pirate.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Averted, as Jack's bomber jacket and aviator goggles are specifically meant to offset the odd conditions of flying with an extremely bright staff.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Jack could be the poster boy, at least early on in the series. He is told, point blank, by the ex-girlfriend he is trying to romance again (using his becoming a superhero as evidence of his newfound maturity) that "You may be a hero, Jack Knight, but that still doesn't make you a nice person."
  • Grand Finale: Grand Guignol. It even has 'Grand' in the title! There's a few issues after it to tie up loose ends but it wraps up the story.
  • Great Detective: Hamilton Drew.
  • Happily Ever After
  • Happily Married: At the end.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: By Farris Knight's time, Jack's tenure as Starman is almost completely lost to history, and Ted is only remembered for his scientific accomplishments—then again, it is over 83,000 years into the future.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam:
    • Although he never became a villain, Mikaal Tomas went from a superhero to a frazzled, slightly unstable junkie, but was considering getting off the pills and changing his life...getting kidnapped, severely drugged, used a living collectible, then a sex slave, then finally a sideshow attraction put paid to that idea.
    • Inverted in "Bobo" Benetti's case. After deciding he couldn't hack it outside of jail, he decides to rob a bank so he can be sent back...only for said bank to be attacked by the Royal Flush Gang. One fight later, he's got a steady job protecting the bank and is on his way to a respectable life. So it's more like someone threw open the Heel-Face door and yanked him inside.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Matt O'Dare
    • Farris Knight, though believing himself genetically predisposed toward evil and working with Solaris, the Big Bad of his story arc, is inspired by Ted to redeem himself with a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Heroic BSOD: As explained in flashbacks, Ted's response to his role in the creation of the atomic bomb. It forced him to live for years in a mental institution.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ted Knight, after learning he has cancer.
    • As well as Good Grundy dying (or becoming the thuggish villain Grundy we're more familiar with) after saving people from a collapsing building.
  • Historical In-Joke: Mikaal claims to have inspired the David Bowie classic Rebel Rebel. Wait... no.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Although the Cosmic Staff has many powers, Jack spends the first half of the series relying entirely upon its flight and energy blasts, at first because he didn't know it could do anything else, and later because he felt that using them would be imitating his father too much. For the fight with Captain Marvel, though, he pulled out all the stops and barely delayed The Captain. He starts using the other abilities more often after that.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: The Red Bee looks upon his life this way. Being a superhero meant a great deal to him, but no matter how he tried he never got recognition, and he was killed before he could do anything great.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Jack, at first.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Mikaal spends his fight with Grundy trying to get through to the good Grundy he knew, but this reborn Grundy isn't having it—until he suddenly dives to save Mikaal from a sniper's bullet, sacrificing his life without being able to explain why.
  • Important Haircut: As his memories start to come back, Mikaal goes from, well, a mullet to something more like he wore in the 70s, complete with sideburns.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: David Knight was a good son, who idolized his father, but he was never meant to be Starman, and Ted knew it.
  • In the Blood: Farris Knight, the Starman of the 853rd Century mentions that there have been several evil Starmen by his time, and chalks it up to a latent strain of evil introduced into the Knight bloodline via Jack and Nash's son.
  • Irony: Terry Sloane notes that in spite of being a genius Renaissance Man, who could master any skill almost instantly, he was somehow never able to make it as a superhero.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: David Knight broke up with his girlfriend because of this, even though she was aware and accepting of the risks.
  • (Jack) Knight In Sour Armor: To put it mildly, Jack has a very caustic personality at the start of the series, though not nearly so much as in his youth.
  • Large Ham: Shade, normally a quiet Combat Pragmatist, practiced in a mirror when planning to go against Flash or Starman in the Golden Age to get the voice and additional gestures right.
  • Last of His Kind: Mikaal thinks he's this. It turns out he's actually the last of his specific tribe. He's a Talokian, a race that would eventually produce Shadow Lass of the Legion of Superheroes—in fact, she's one of his descendants.
  • Legacy Character: Jack is actually the sixth or seventh Starman, depending on how you count; the series inspired many other DCU Legacy Characters.
    • Legacy characters is the main theme of the series, and a lot of the action is driven by Jack interacting with all of them, even going out into space and back in time to do so.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In this case, against Captain Marvel. Needless to say, Jack is horrendously overmatched, even after the fight forces him to tap into some of his staff's more obscure powers that he had never bothered with before.
  • Lightning Bruiser: "Bobo" Benetti has overall superhuman physical abilities, including speed and agility, sufficient to go head-to-head with big-name heroes like the Alan Scott Green Lantern (and to wipe the floor with several lesser-knowns like Iron Munro).
  • Limelight Series: For the entire Starman legacy, but most of all for the Shade, who got two minis of his own as a result - a four-issue one during the series' run, and a twelve-issue one as part of DC's big 2011 relaunch.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The Shade's Backstory is borrowed from a Charles Dickens novel.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Charity's fortune-telling place. Subverted, as she tells Jack she moved in normally.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Merritt and (usually) The Shade think so.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Logical Weakness: The Shade's powers are somewhat weakened in the presence of flame or bright light, and he cannot use his powers at all if there is no shadow.
  • Love at First Sight: Mason and Charity. Though it was more love at second sight for Charity, since she foresaw it.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Sadie hates the danger Jack gets into, but thinks she could have handled it if it was just the two of them. After she discovers she's pregnant, however, she realizes she can't raise a family in that world and leaves Jack. Jack, after some deliberation, decides to give up being Starman and join her.
  • Mad Bomber: The Infernal Mr. Pip is a merely a selfish, amoral mercenary at first. After getting caught in one of his own bombs thanks to Jack and Grundy, the dying Pip flips out and decides to take everyone with him. Everyone.
  • Magic Feather: Although charged with cosmic energy, Prince Gavyn's staff was only a means for him to channel his powers more easily. The true power lay within him all along. Learning this allows him to turn the tables on Rikane, who had been using it to attack him.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: After Jack decides to retire as Starman, he meets his deceased father and brother one last time. With some trepidation he tells them that he plans to quit. Ted's response is basically to shrug and say that there would always be a Starman, no matter who, and when Jack's surprised at how casual he was about it to reply that not everything has to be dramatic.
  • Mind Hive: The Shade has unknowingly been one of these ever since his last battle with Culp.
  • Mugging the Monster: René, a genius dwarf known as the "Pocket Encyclopedia", figured out that Culp was inhabiting the Shade's body, and demanded ten percent of his takings in exchange for silence. A shadow tentacle through one ear and out the other later and René found himself in need of a new sobriquet.
  • Musical Issue: One of the "Talking With David" stories has Jack and David assume the role of pirates. The dialogue disappears for this segment, replaced by a pirate sea-chanty.
  • Myth Arc: The series as a whole was written as such, with several mini-arcs as well.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Jack learned Jujutsu years prior to the series, apparently on a lark, and then dropped it. When the series starts, he's able to take down multiple Mooks barehanded.
  • No Bisexuals: Averted with Mikaal.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • After Ragdoll threatened the loved ones of Starman and his allies, Ted Knight blasted him—he thought—to death, and spent over a decade feeling guilty about it afterward. However, Ragdoll barely survived.
    • Culp's ally Crusher beats a restrained "Bobo" Benetti to death, but in a few hours he comes back to life and breaks free.
  • Not So Different: Nash lays this trope at Jack's feet. Jack spends several issues trying to convince himself she's wrong.
  • The Nth Doctor: Solomon Grundy's Resurrective Immortality is shown to have this as a side effect. Each time he comes Back from the Dead, he comes back with a different appearance and level of physical power, and with a different aspect of Cyrus Gold's original personality rising to the fore. Since Gold was an awful human being who enjoys the power using Grundy gives him to hurt people, this means that kindly, gentle Grundies (like the one seen in this series), are few and far-between.
  • Occult Detective: Very few of Hamilton Drew's cases actually involved the supernatural, but this is what he's remembered best for, much to his chagrin.
  • The Old Convict: After spending thirty years in jail for killing his wife and her lover, "Bobo" Benetti has doubts about being able to live in the outside world.
  • Older Than They Look:
    • After the JSA was subjected to weird timey-junk during a mission, they all began aging extremely gracefully, looking much younger than their actual age. After this was reversed, they all instantly aged rapidly, but Ted Knight less so than some of the others. He ought to be around eighty-something, but physically he's in his early sixties at worst.
    • Jack also apparently looks a good deal younger than he actually is, though the difference isn't actually spelled out.
    • Bobo Benetti notes that in his seventies, he looks like he's in his fifties, and still has the same body he had in his thirties.
    • Mikaal Tomas doesn't seem to have changed in the past twenty years.
    • Merritt allowed himself to age until he hit an age he felt respectable, about 40, then stopped afterward.
    • The Shade hasn't aged a hair since the 1800s.
  • Outside Context Anti-Hero: The Shade's powers explicitly come from a source outside that of supernatural forces such as magic, worked perfectly well when the Genesis event depowered everyone else, and render him immune to being converted into a Black Lantern.
  • Passing the Torch:
    • Just prior to the series, Ted handed the mantle to Starman to his older son David despite knowing all along that it was always Jack who was truly meant to hold the title. After David's death, Jack reluctantly takes on the role of Starman.
    • The Mist intended to pass his mantle to his son Kyle, but upon Kyle's death, his daughter Nash grabs the torch for herself.
    • In the far, far future, the mantle and history of Starman are rediscovered by Farris Knight's great-grandfather, who passes it to his son, who passes it to his daughter, who passes it to Farris who never asked for it.
    • In the final issue, Jack passes the cosmic rod to Courtney Whitmore, who becomes Stargirl.
  • Past-Life Memories:
    • Remembering his former life as Scalphunter is what prompts Matt O'Dare's Heel–Face Turn.
    • On a less story-significant note, Jack apparently has occasional dreams of being a spy in the Napoleonic Wars named Rosa.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted with the O'Dares, a family of cops that assist Jack. They start by capturing the Mist while Jack fights the Mist's son, and they keep that level of competence for the entire series.
  • Powerup Letdown: Doctor Phosphorous notes that his deal with Neron led to him having much more control over his radioactive powers, but also weakened them considerably.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Mikaal's race. Following his trip into space and the restoration of his memories, Mikaal's personality starts shifting toward this, much more than it had been even before he lost them.
  • Psychic Powers:
    • Charity is a fortuneteller who Jack befriends and often consults.
    • Charity mentions that Jack also has some psychic ability, though less so than hers.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The fourth issue involves a shady businessman wishing to acquire a so-called mystical Hawaiian shirt featuring a design said to open a gateway to heaven. His agent, Sands, originally planned to kill Jack for the shirt. When Jack explains he doesn't want the shirt knowing what it can do, Sands asks if he could simply buy it. Jack lets him do just that.
  • Put on a Bus: Jack at the end of his series, at James Robinson's request.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: When Jack is drugged into unconsciousness and raped by Nash, the second Mist, the scene occurs from his point-of-view as a very strange erotic dream. Additionally, while the implication is there in the initial scene, it isn't until many issues later that the series confirms the fact that a rape occurred with a Wham Line.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • On one of the (first) Mist's earliest jobs a bunch of people were put to sleep. He killed one of his own men who tried to molest one of the unconscious women.
    • Nash's rape of Jack is depicted as a horrifying example of her mental instability.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: In "Taxicab Confessions", three different characters tell three different versions of the story of how Jack and Mikaal saved Starfire from space pirates. The issue takes place in the future, a couple of hundred years after the events recounted, so none of the storytellers have objective knowledge on what happened, though one of the stories certainly sounds more likely than the other two. "Rashomon"-Style is also used to do a little metafictional gag on DC continuity: there have been three different DC characters called "Starfire", so in each of the stories Jack and Mikaal rescue a different Starfire.
  • Really Gets Around: Implied of Jack before he became Starman, and shown with Barry O'Dare. In Jack's case it shows what a shallow person he used to be. In Barry's case it makes him look like a sleaze...which makes it foreshadowing.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jack receives an utterly blistering one from Ted after he is attacked by Kyle, David's killer, and Kyle gets away.
  • Red Skies Crossover: The cosmic rod fails in one issue due to the Genesis event... and it is never spoken of again.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Subverted in-series. As part of Jack's original bargain to take up his father's job as the town superhero, Ted had to agree to find applications for the cosmic energy he had discovered and harnessed apart from making weapons. By series end, Ted had apparently patented a number of technologies that would revolutionize the world... but the idea never quite took in the shared universe.
  • Reincarnation: Used in one or two cases, depending on how you count it. Matt O'Dare was the DC Western hero Scalphunter and would later go on to be reincarnated as Thom Kallor aka Starboy of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • RetCon: If you want to keep track of them all, you'll need a scorecard. Many of them were Author's Saving Throws to redeem older characters.
    • Probably the most notable was the retconning of The Shade, an old Flash villain, who was revealed to have been not so villainous after all, and who would eventually turn into an actual hero. The reimagined Shade was so popular he got two mini-series of his own.
    • There was also a hint from fortune-teller Charity that Jack would someday meet an old friend of his father's. The hint was originally meant to refer to Hawkman but Robinson's plans to revitalize the character in Starman were sidelined. Charity even tells Jack later that their paths have changed and he might never meet "the winged hero" after all.
    • Sand and Stars more-or-less canonizes Sandman Mystery Theatre, and retcons out the period in which Sandman wore yellow and purple spandex. (It gets retconned back in later.)
  • Retired Badass: The Shade notes that, seeing the "gentle scholar" of today, people often forget what a physical hero Ted Knight used to be. He can still get the job done when he needs to, though.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The Mist's jail cell has messages like "Jack is to blame" and "Die Starman" scrawled on the wall.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Sadie has no character outside of her relationship with Jack and worry about her brother.
  • Science Hero: Ted Knight, who can still use his knowledge to pull off an Indy Ploy when cornered by the new Mist.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Shows up quite a bit, especially with Jack. At one point he compares the original JSA to the Mercury Seven.
    • This even happens in Jack's internal monologues, where he ponders how he always equated maturity with enjoying the musical numbers in Marx Brothers movies that weren't Chico and Harpo goofing around with the instruments.
  • Sherlock Homage: Hamilton Drew.
  • Shout-Out: More than a few. One example: the "Powdered Toast Man" graffiti and drawing of Ren on a lamppost at the end of issue 1.
  • Shrinking Violet: Nash, for much of the first arc — until Jack kills her brother and she becomes The Mist.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: It turns out Farris Knight feels this way, seeing no meaning in his role as a hero or the legacy he inherited, save the money and women it can get him. Meeting Ted Knight awakens his idealism.
  • Something Completely Different: The issue featuring Space Cabbie. (That's right, Space Cabbie.)
  • Sophisticated as Hell: At one point two gangsters have a profanity-laced argument about which is the better Stephen Sondheim musical. One argues for the "cohesion of words and music" of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, while the other supports the "resonant narrative purity" of Into the Woods. While gunning them down during his Heel–Face Turn, Matt O'Dare vouches for the superiority of Sunday In The Park With George.
  • Split Personality: The Shade and Culp.
  • Stable Time Loop: Farris Knight's great-grandfather discovers the mysterious Quarvat when it slams into the asteroid on which he's stranded, and uses it to become Starman. As Farris is battling Solaris, the evil sun lets loose a parting blast that separates him fron the Quarvat, sending it back in time for his great-grandfather to discover.
  • Starfish Language: How Mikaal's language and Kryptonian are represented.
  • Star Power: The entire point of Ted's research that enabled him to build the Cosmic Rod and its derivatives. It's also hinted that the power-wielded by each Starman/Girl is a unique variant of a unified source, not unlike Marvel's Power Cosmic split amongst various beings.
    • In a crossover with Batman and Hellboy, a group of neo-Nazis build a machine to collect power from the stars in order to awaken an Eldritch Abomination.
  • STD Immunity: Inverted. Turns out herpes affects Mikaal's race like AIDS.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Several C-list superheroes took on the Mist and died horribly, just to establish Mist's cred.
  • Summon Magic: Although the Shade can use his shadow powers in the form of bolts and tendrils, he has a fondness for conjuring demonic-appearing entities. One of them in particular, Smudge, is a sidekick of sorts.
  • Super Hero Origin: The first arc, naturally, plus several in Flashbacks.
  • Super Smoke: Both Mists.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: The Cosmic Rod/Staff can fire energy blasts, create force fields, levitate objects (including the user), project intense heat, make bright flashes, follow the user's mental commands and...be wielded like a club/quarterstaff.
  • Thinking Up Portals: The Shade's powers let him do this.
  • Time Travel: Several instances.
    • Jack and Mikaal travel across space (and time) to arrive in the 31st Century and team up with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Later in the same arc, they travel into the past and visit the planet Krypton, before it blew up.
    • Jack and his brother David, ripped from time before his death, by Doctor Fate are sent back to the year 1951 to help protect Opal City at a time when Ted Knight was still suffering from his breakdown after playing an important role in the development of the atomic bomb.
    • The Shade's powers let him do this, though it takes a while for him to find out.
  • To Hell and Back: Jack, The Shade and Matt O'Dare do wind up going to one of DC's Hells at one point.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: "Bobo" Benetti was a Navy Diver who ran afoul of a floating mine during WWII. Waking up in the hospital with barely any injuries, he discovered his other superhuman physical powers shortly afterward.
  • Un-Cancelled: Came back for one issue thanks to the Blackest Night event; Jack was absent and the story focused on the Shade and Hope O'Dare.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The Comic Book.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Farris Knight, the Starman of the 853rd century, is a jaded burnout who was thrust into the role against his will and ultimately joined Solaris in his attempt to kill Superman, so that he could be freed from it. Confronting his ancestor Ted Knight, with the intention of killing him for starting the legacy, the old man asked Farris to look within himself and accept the good within his heart as well as the evil. It worked.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Mist again.
  • Writing for the Trade: Lots of six-issue arcs.
    • Subverted with a lot of one-shots and smaller arcs thrown in. The trades pre-Omnibus were notoriously difficult to keep straight.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Mikaal is said to have mauve hair, though most of the time he just looks like comic-book-style redhead.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Jack learns to his surprise that his father and the Black Canary had had a brief affair.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Comicbook/StarMan