Starman is a name used by several different fictional DC Comics superheroes, most prominently Ted Knight and his sons David and Jack. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Jack Burnley, the original Starman, Ted Knight, first appeared in Adventure Comics #61 (April 1941). An astronomer, Knight invented a “gravity rod,” later reinvented as a “cosmic rod,” allowing him to fly and manipulate energy and donned a red and yellow costume with a distinctive finned helmet. Like most Golden Age heroes, Starman fell into obscurity in the 1950s. In the ensuing years, several characters, with varying degrees of relation to the original, briefly took the mantle of Starman.
The only Starman of the 1950s was actually Bruce Wayne (Batman) who briefly took up that mantle in Detective Comics #247 (1957), using variants of his usual equipment but with a star motif instead of a bat.
Starman should not be confused with Star-Man, a costumed villain who fought Batman only once, in 1960.
A renegade scientist, Professor Milo, gathers three members of the underworld in his secret laboratory to discuss the problem of Batman. He explains that others have failed at crime because of the caped crusader, but believes he shall succeed by defeating Batman through a phobia. After many years of research, he has developed a substance so precious it can only be used once, a substance that will make Batman helpless against their march of crime.
The next day, at a charity benefit, where Batman is an honored guest, Milo paints the phobia liquid on a spotlight lens which mimics the bat-signal. When Batman is introduced, Milo's henchman projects the image of the bat into Batman's eyes. Batman is stunned by the bright light, begins to feel a little dizzy, and excuses himself as he is helped off-stage by his partner, Robin. The heroes return to their home and their civilian identities of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.
That night, when Batman and Robin are summoned with the real bat-signal, Bruce finds he cannot look at his own bat emblem. He rips the emblem off and dons his costume. When they reach the Batmobile, Batman finds he cannot enter it, and the duo are forced to tend to the crime on foot. Shortly, at the Gotham Art Museum, Batman and Robin confront three art thieves. When Batman pulls out one of his batarangs, he goes into a sudden panic, and the criminals escape with the stolen artwork. The thieves report back to Professor Milo that the phobia works.
The following night, Batman and Robin again answer a call from the police. When Batman corners the criminals on a building rooftop, one of them opens a small box and lets loose a bat. Batman is so panic-stricken, he falls off the edge of the building. Robin saves his partner, but the criminals again escape with their stolen goods.
Later, back at the Batcave, Batman concludes that someone has given him an artificial phobia against bats. In the days that follow, Batman's phobia gets so bad that he is forced to retire. Batman brings Robin to Police Commissioner Gordon's office to inform the police that, from that moment on, Robin will be working with a new partner, Starman. Within an hour, news of Batman's retirement spreads around the world.
The next time the police are faced with a crime they cannot handle, they project a star-signal into the night sky. Starman and Robin arrive at the crime in progress in a hovering Star-Plane. Using their fists and a handful of star-darts, the heroes capture the four thugs and bring them into custody.
Back at their new headquarters, the Star-Loft, Bruce confides in Dick that it won't be long before people guess that Starman is actually Batman, and criminals will begin to use his bat phobia against him once more. When Dick asks if there are cures for phobias, Bruce explains that the person can be made to realize that there's nothing to fear, but it usually takes time. Before he can react, Dick straps Bruce to a chair and rolls out a news reel projector. Dick begins showing films of the exploits of Batman, deafening himself to Bruce's pleas to stop. As scene after scene flashes before him, Bruce begins to relax. Elsewhere, Professor Milo proclaims to his men that it is obvious that Starman is really Batman in another costume. Milo states that he has come up with a bat-scare that will finish Batman for good.
Later that night, as bandits make off with a factory payroll, Starman and Robin arrive. The criminals are prepared, and unleash a huge bat-shaped balloon. Instead of being frightened, as expected, Starman and Robin jump aboard the bat-balloon and ride it towards the thieves. Two are captured immediately. Starman then captures the remaining two who are fleeing by slashing the floating balloon with a stararang. Starman quickly learns of Professor Milo's whereabouts from his prisoners. He soon arrives at the secret lab, confronting Milo. The cunning scientist quickly holds up a paper cutout of a bat, believing it will stop his attacker, but Starman merely punches through it and into Milo's jaw. Starman then reveals his Batman costume underneath, showing that the phobia no longer has any effect. The world soon learns that Batman is back.
Batman's brief tenure as Starman was quickly forgotten, but the same costume Bruce had designed fell into the hands of Doctor Mid-Nite of the JSA after Batman's bat-phobia had been cured. Since Wayne no longer had any use for his old Starman disguise (now only a bad memory), Doctor Mid-Nite donned the old suit and used it as Starman in Opal City for a brief time. (Starman [second volume] #61, January 2000).
Before Batman took up the mantle of Starman, a hero resembling Starman was active for a year and a day, from January 1951 to January 1952. This hero was, in fact, two separate individuals: Dr. Charles McNider, a.k.a. Dr. Mid-Nite, and David Knight, the time-traveling son of the original Starman.
Charles McNider replaced Ted Knight, the original Starman, who had suffered a mental breakdown, from January 1951 to early December 1951. When David Knight, the fifth Starman, was snatched from the moment just prior to his death and transported through time to early December 1951, he was trained by McNider as his replacement. David was active from December 1951 to January 2, 1952, and was believed by the general public to be the same Starman that had been fighting crime for the last eleven months.
The post-Crisis Starman was first mentioned in Starman [second series] #2 (December 1994), made a cameo appearance in Starman Secret Files #1 (April 1998), and made his first full appearance in Starman 80-Page Giant #1 (Jan 1999).
Powers and Abilities
Bruce Wayne has been trained in numerous fighting techniques and is an expert in hand-to-hand combat. He is a man of great intelligence and ingenuity and, as Batman, is renowned for his superior detective skills. As Starman, he flew a robot controlled Star-Plane, which was kept at its secret hanger, the Star-Loft. Among other weapons, Starman wielded star-darts and the stararang.