Starman #0 (October 1994)

Rising Star, Falling Son

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Tony Harris
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Letterer: John E. Workman Jr.
Editors: Archie Goodwin, Jim Spivey
Part of: Sins of the Father storyline, DC’s Zero Month
Reprinted in: Starman: Sins of the Father, The Starman Omnibus, Volume One
Art by Tony Harris, image from the Grand Comics Database

Page One
A splash panel depicting Opal City, a never-before seen DC City located somewhere on the North Eastern Coast of America – based on the clemency of its weather, I suspect somewhere between Gotham City to the north and Metropolis to the south. Robinson deliberatly created Opal because he loves DC’s fictional cities, and also to have a city that better complemented his hero (much as Batman is largely inseperable from Gotham).

Of particular note on this page:

  • Opal’s ties to Australia emphasised by the sign for the (fictional) Koala Air. The Opal is the national stone of Australia, which produces about 97% of the world’s opals.
  • Quixote is a reference to Don Quixote, the hero of the eponymous novel by Miguel Cervantes. In the book, Don Quixote is a delusional fool who believes himself to be a knight, and who often hallucinates (famously seeing windmills as giants at one point). In popular use, to call someone a quixote is to label them an idealist and a fool. (BTW, you really should read Don Quixote – it’s very funny.)
  • The emphasis given to the words Times Past.
  • The advertisment for Chesterfield Tobaccos serves to emphasise the out-of-time quality of Opal City – such ads are rarely seen today, and when they are, would usually not feature a WWI era pilot or refer to cigarettes as tobaccos.

Page Two
Panel One – This is David Knight, the current Starman (the sixth of that name). He first appeared in the previous series of Starman, in #26 (September 1990), and was most recently seen taking up his father Ted’s mantle in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #1 (September 1994).
He appears to be standing on the shoulder of a statue of Athena, the Greek Goddess of justice (appropriately) and wisdom (somewhat less appropriately).

Panel Two – His father, Ted Knight, was the first Starman, and David is wearing the same costume and using the same weapon as him. The Will Payton (not Layton) is the previous Starman, lead character of the previous series of Starman – and David’s first appearance, the two battled over the right to bear the name, hence David’s characterising of him as a pretender (although David was more conciliatory at the time). Payton’s death in space occurred in Eclipso: The Darkness Within #2 (October 1992)

Page Five
Panel One – the first appearance of Ted Knight’s observatory – the one inside Opal City, at any rate. And the introduction of the theme of sibling rivalry that will become one of the most important themes of the entire series.
Panel Two – Major Matt Mason was an action figure line introduced in the Sixties, and was very much inspired by the Space Race of the time. Lemmy Caution was the protagonist of the French film Alphaville.
Panel Two – The first time we see Jack Knight (last seen in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #1 (September 1994), his first appearance).
Panel Three – Ted Knight, the original Starman who first appeared in Adventure Comics #61 (1941). Ted is retired now as Starman but is still a scientist.

Page Seven
Panel Three – Morris the tattooist is an old friend of Jack’s – we’ll be seeing him again.
Panel Five – Fortunes, likewise, is something we will see again.
Panel Six – The name of Jack’s shop refers to his name (Knight), but also puns on Nights Past (and subtly recalls Times Past). Note that despite his differences with his father and brother, the shop’s logo includes a star.

Page Ten
Panel Two – The Sylvester Pemberton mentioned is the original Star Spangled Kid, who later adopted the name Skyman, and used – as Ted mentions in the next panel – Ted’s technology as a superhero.

Page Twelve
Panel One – Ted’s Observatory is destroyed, although the site will remain an important one.
Panel Four – First appearance of Nash, daughter of the original Mist, a supervillain.

Page Thirteen
Panel Two – First appearance of Kyle, son of the original Mist and killer of David Knight.

Page Seventeen
Panel One – Skyman’s belt, as mentioned above.

Page Nineteen
Panel One – Ward and Charles Cheney founded Cheney Bros in the 19th century – the business is famous for being one of the first to successfully culture silk in America. Tina Lesser was a designer particularly reknowned for her hand-painted silks, and famous in the 1940s and 1950s. J. Allen St. John was a painter, probably best known for his covers to various Edgar Rice Burroughs books in the Tarzan series.
Panel Two – Salvador Dali was Spanish painter, one of the most prolific and best known artists of the Surrealist school.
Panel Three – Thorne Smith was an American author of humourous fantasy stories, perhaps best known for his character Topper. Sax Rohmer was an English writer, best remembered as the creator of Fu Manchu.
Panel Four – Robert Ryan was an American actor who appeared in numerous crime and war films, notably The Dirty Dozen and The Wild Bunch. Nat Nast was an American clothesmaker and entrepeneur, best known for the many kinds of shirt he created. Starburst was a range of pottery produced by Franciscan Pottery. Dell was an American publisher whose early books, which often featured maps on the back covers, are now sought-after collectibles.
Panel Five – Lee is a famous manufacturer of jeans and other denim clothes.
Panel Six – World’s Fairs were a series of exhibitions held in different cities around the world starting in 1851 – the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2 is based on the New York World’s Fair of the 1960s. The Shawnee are an American Indian tribe originally native to the mid-Atlantic seaboard, now residing in Oklahoma. Kamehameha was a brand of Hawaiian shirt named after a famous king of Hawaii. This Island Earth is a science fiction movie made in 1955. Collier’s Weekly was a long-running American magazine with a focus on liberal social and political causes. Captain Action was an action figure line from the 1970s.

Page Twenty-Two
The Mist, a supervillain and (as of this series) the arch-foe of Ted Knight as Starman. He first appeared in Adventure Comics #67 (October 1941).

Page Twenty-Three
Panel Two – note the Ragdoll grafitti at the extreme right of the panel.

Page Twenty-Four
The name of “Stacie’s Romance of the Sea” is another small piece of foreshadowing.

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