Starman (Jack Knight)
Jack Knight, the Modern Age Starman.
Cover artwork for Starman vol. 2, #63
by Andrew Robinson.
|First appearance||Zero Hour #1 (September 1994)|
|Created by||James Robinson
|Alter ego||Jack Knight|
|Team affiliations||Justice Society of America|
|Abilities||Wields the cosmic staff;
Trained in martial arts
Starman (Jack Knight) is fictional character, a comic book superhero in the DC Comics Universe, and a member of the Justice Society of America. He is the son of the original Starman, Ted Knight. Created by James Robinson and Tony Harris, he first appeared in Zero Hour #1 (September 1994).
Starman is also the name of the popular and critically acclaimed comic book series chronicling Jack Knight's adventures, which ran from October 1994 to August 2001, totalling 81 issues as well as some annuals and special issues.
Fictional character biography
Jack is the son of Ted Knight, who, as Starman, was a Golden Age superhero. Although Jack is fascinated by his father's heroic life as a child, he becomes more and more rebellious as he grows older. By the time he reaches adulthood, Jack is disdainful of his father's past. Jack's older brother David takes over his father's mantle, while Jack often regards the superhero role with open disdain.
Although Jack is shown as both schooled and talented in fine art, his true passion is collectibles. He eventually becomes the owner and operator of an antique and collectibles store.
Jack's role in the family changes after David is murdered by the son of the Mist, one of his father's old arch-foes. The Mist then attempts to murder Jack as well, who narrowly escapes by using one of his father's old gravity rods. Jack resolves to track down the Mist out of a desire to protect his father. He eventually kills the Mist's son in battle and captures both the Mist and his daughter Nash, who vows revenge. The Mist later succumbs to dementia after the death of his son.
Jack reluctantly makes a deal to become Starman if his father agrees to devote his vast scientific knowledge to the betterment of mankind. Jack eschews a "uniform", instead opting to wear his street clothes (though he eventually supplements them with a small sheriff's star and a leather coat with a stylized star symbol on the back); his only "superheroic" accessories are his cosmic staff and a pair of tank driver's anti-flare goggles to protect his eyes during flight, and from the brilliant light generated by the staff.
Nash returns as the new Mist and attempts to become Jack's nemesis. She drugs and rapes Jack, with the intent of becoming pregnant. She later gives birth to Jack's son, Kyle Theo Knight. Mist intends to raise him to hate Jack and all he stands for.
Although Jack discovers many latent heroic qualities within himself, he only fully embraces them when Nash theorizes that she and Jack are two sides of the same coin. Jack vows to prove her wrong. To do so, he travels to Hell to rescue two men he hardly knows, tries valiantly to save a friendly incarnation of Solomon Grundy, and helps prove Bulletman's innocence when he is accused of having been a Nazi agent during World War II.
Later, Jack joins the Justice Society of America, following in his father's footsteps. Working alongside his father's contemporaries, Jack fights the wizard Mordru, the terrorist organization Kobra, and the time-traveler Extant. Jack has to split his time between Opal City and the JSA's hometown of New York, making him a part-time member. He resigns from the team following his father's death and the end of his super-hero career.
Jack lives and operates out of Opal City and has a number of allies. First are the O'Dares, a family of Opal City police officers. In addition, Jack regularly receives advice from a fortune teller named Charity, who has a shop in the alleys of the Opal. (Charity had appeared before in a 1970s series called Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion where she appeared as narrator and host to self-contained stories, not unlike the numerous DC comic horror series.) Jack also rescues Mikaal Tomas, an alien who briefly operated in New York under the name Starman during the 1970s. Jack's most intriguing ally is the Shade, an immortal Golden Age super-villain who aides Jack because he considers Opal City his home and wants it to remain quiet. Over time, Jack comes to question whether or not the Shade's motives are more noble than he lets on. Jack also finds common ground with Jake "Bobo" Benetti, a retired super-strong bank robber from his father's days.
Among the Stars and Return to Earth
During his heroic career, Jack comes to fall in love with a woman he met, Sadie. When she reveals that she is the sister of Will Payton, yet another hero to bear the name of Starman, he vows to set off into space to find her missing brother.
Jack first seeks help in his journey from both Captain Marvel and the Justice League of America. Finally, equipped with his father's consciousness duplicated in a Mother Box, and joined by Mikaal Tomas, Jack sets off on an intergalactic journey. However, a chance encounter diverts Jack from his intended route, and he is lost in both time and space. He meets the Legion of Super-Heroes, counsels Jor-El, father of Superman, and then helps Adam Strange fight an invading empire.
As prisoners of the empire, Jack foments revolt to escape, working with members of the Green Lantern Corps, the Omega Men and the New Gods. Jack meets Will Payton, his body merged with the mind of yet another Starman, Prince Gavyn. Together, the many Starmen work together to save Gavyn's empire. Jack leaves Gavyn/Payton to run the empire, and returns to Earth to tell Sadie her brother's fate.
Upon his return, Jack faces almost all of his foes in a massive battle that nearly destroys Opal City. During the battle, Jack's father sacrifices himself to save the city. Following his father's death, Jack undertakes one final adventure, to resolve the mystery of the last recorded Starman, the Starman of 1951. Having the answer to that final riddle, Jack retires and takes his son to live with him and Sadie in San Francisco.
After Jack Knight
Jack has passed his cosmic rod onto Courtney Whitmore, who calls herself "Stargirl" and currently operates with the JSA. Jack had an appearance in Identity Crisis #1, a non-speaking cameo, sitting next to Stargirl at Sue Dibny's funeral.
James Robinson currently has a deal with DC Comics enumerating that they cannot use his Starman characters without his permission, which is why Jack has appeared very little since the end of his series. However, Robinson has stated that he intends to one day write a "lost" Starman story arc about Jack's adventures in Japan.
According to Manhunter vol. 3, #23, he is still living in San Francisco.
James Robinson returned to the Starman series in January 2010 for a single issue (#81) that was a tie-in to the DC event, Blackest Night. It was one of the 8 "dead" titles being revived for one issue. This issue did not feature Jack Knight, but instead focused on Opal City, the Shade, and a Black Lantern Starman. During the events of the issue, David's corpse is reborn as a Black Lantern and attacks the Shade and Hope O'Dare. David taunts Shade by telling him that he plans on going to San Francisco in order to kill Jack, but he is ultimately defeated.
In the acclaimed alternate future tale Kingdom Come, Jack has a teenaged African American successor known as "Stars". Though he takes his name and motif from the Star-Spangled Kid, Stars uses Jack's cosmic staff and dresses in a similar leather jacket and bandana. Though Jack's ultimate fate is not explicitly mentioned, Thom Kallor has replaced him as Starman in this reality.
In the alternate future of the Titans Tomorrow, Courtney has changed her name to "Starwoman" and now carries Jack's trademark jacket in addition to the staff. This is based on an earlier concept introduced in Young Justice: Sins of Youth when Courtney and Jack temporarily changed roles after being turned into an adult and child respectively.
Powers and equipment
Jack Knight has no superpowers. Although he has been told by Charity that he possesses the same sight as her, only to a lesser degree, he has never truly explored it. Instead, he wields a "cosmic staff", a device invented by Jack's father Ted, the original Starman. The cosmic staff utilizes the same technology as the prototype "gravity rods" that Ted once wielded, and which Jack used before his father created the cosmic staff for him. The cosmic staff grants Jack powers including rapid flight, levitation of objects, and energy manipulation. The staff absorbs stellar energy, which can then be manipulated into defensive force fields, and offensive energy blasts of incredible power. Jack can use both powers at once to protect himself from atmospheric damage in high velocity flight. Another power of the rod, seen late in the series, is that it is capable of receiving Jack's mental commands from a distance (this is a feature of the device, an ability to "attune itself to the user", and not a power of Jack's). At present, the staff is attuned to its current wielder, Stargirl; it seems difficult to quickly change the staff's affiliation.
Jack is also a competent martial artist, trained primarily in jujitsu.
In other media
There was a television series planned based on Jack's adventures, from the creators of Smallville and Birds of Prey. Both Jack and his father would have featured, it would have been set in Opal City and would have apparently aimed to follow the comics as closely as possible. However, in 2003, after the failure of Birds of Prey, the series was described as "indefinitely on hold" and there is presently no sign that it will ever be produced.
Additionally, on Justice League Unlimited, Stargirl wields Jack's cosmic rod. The only Starman seen on the program is Prince Gavyn, and the origin of Courtney's powers and history on the series remain unknown.
Jack was made into a DC Direct figure in 1999 during the early years of the line. Additionally, a variant figure was released that featured re-colored clothes and a goatee. Figures of both Ted and Jack Knight as Starman were released in Wave 15 of Mattel's DC Universe Classics line. A figure is planned for the Eaglemoss DC Comics Super Hero Collection for July 2011.
- [dead link]
- Renaud, Jeffrey (October 12, 2009). "Starman’s Back, But Not Jack Knight". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Starman vol. 2, #1 (November 1994). p. 7.
- "Starman". Comics2film.com. August 23, 2003. Retrieved 2007-01-28.
- Smallville. Season 9, episodes 11-12: "Absolute Justice".