Starman and the Impact It’s Had

It’s safe bet a lot of us here read comics. It’s an even safer bet there are some that hold a special place in our hearts for one reason or another. While there are many DC Comics I read, there’s one that I cherish not only because of the comic itself, but the impact it had on me. That comic is James Robinson and Tony Harris’ work on Starman.

It’s funny because I came to the book very late. I was a fan of the Will Payton Starman and I had only heard one or two things about the then current series featuring Jack Knight as the titular character. Payton was dead by this point and I wanted to see what relation, if any, Jack had to him. My local library had the third trade (A Wicked Inclination) and I decided to borrow it to see what it was about. The first thing I noticed were The Shade’s journals; I had never seen a comic start off with an excerpt from a villain’s personal diary. Then I read the issues contained within. Even though he was different to Will Payton, I really liked Jack. He had an appreciation for older things and collected random stuff much like I did.

I remember the Sand and Stars issue where Jack goes to meet Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman. He arrives at the apartment nervous about meeting one of his heroes. You’re meant to think it’s Wesley, but it turns out he’s nervous to meet Dodds’ wife and famous author Dian Belmont. How that was written along with Jack’s enthusiasm to meet a writer hooked me. I finished the trade and went on the hunt for anything else I could find. I was trying to catch up to the series because the issues being published at the time were the search for Will Payton and I wanted to be there when it happened.

I’d been toying around with the idea of getting serious about writing in High School. I didn’t know if I had the chops or not to do it. When I read Starman, I saw things I’d seen in comics before but wasn’t aware of: foreshadowing, bringing back old characters in new ways, deep characterization and knowing the ending of your story long before the first issue is published.

That resonated with me. It made my idea of writing seem like a goal worth striving for. Eventually I made it to college and I got an AA in Writing Literature and a BA in Creative Writing. After some time I self-published an anthology of short stories (admittedly, I needed an editor on that but I put it out) and to this day I still write. All that time Starman was in the back of my mind. It, along with a few other influences were the inspiration I needed to put my money where my mouth was and do something with my passion.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet Tony Harris in 2002 at a convention in Madison Square Garden where he signed a comic for me and did a makeshift sketch of Jack in my program. He was one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet. And I was EXTREMELY lucky to meet James Robinson randomly at my first New York Comic Con in 2010. He wasn’t scheduled to be there, he was just walking around. I didn’t want to go all crazy fan-boy on him; I tapped him on the shoulder, introduced myself and talked to him for a couple of minutes saying how much I enjoyed his work and that it was an inspiration. He was very down to Earth and gracious and even took a picture with me. Later I’d meet him again at another New York Comic Con where he was scheduled to be there and he signed the same comic Tony Harris did.

When it comes to Starman I’ve read the comics, I have most of the trades, all the omnibus editions, I’ve got the DC Direct figure, the statue and I was even gifted the watch last summer…but even if you take all that away, the best thing I got from Starman is a story that’s impacted me for almost twenty years and still holds a special place in my heart.

I hope you all have that comic in your lives and thank you for letting me ramble and share my appreciation for this comic. Thank you!



I always wanted to read Sandman so I only skimmed your OP, but I have read a single story arc and found it quite good and I’ve seen tons of people talk about it as one of the best runs of all time. I respect your passion for it and hope to share it one day.


Your essay is so true. I read Starman for the first time with somebody’s old custom bound volumes I bought on eBay. I couldn’t stop and read the whole thing in a month. The story, the characters, and the art all work on a level that few other books ever have or will. James Robinson made something special in the ‘90s, and it wasn’t Cry for Justice.


Thank you both for the kind words. I guess you’re right…it turned into an essay when it was supposed to be how I felt on the series lol I take it as a compliment.

@Batwatch, it’s definitely worth looking into. The good thing is, you won’t have to hunt down the omnibus editions because the series is here on the app. I would’ve given anything to have something like this when I was first reading the series and hunting down the issues I was missing.

@Batwing52, I love comic bindings! I’ve had a few made myself and they’re amazing. I always wanted to have my issues of Starman bound, but when I thought about it, the omnibus editions came out. Robinson definitely made something special here. He also managed to weave so much DC history (which is totally responsible for my love of Golden Age characters and one of the reasons I picked up JSA when it launched with that Secret Files)


I read Starman on a monthly basis beginning with that first 0 issue. That title went on to become one of my all time favorite series, second only to Sandman. I’ve purchased the omnibus collection, and have vol. 1 signed by James Robinson. I strongly recommend this series to everyone.


@ mceddard.91225 You got in from the start?! That’s so cool! I wish I could’ve followed it from the beginning. I think when I started getting into the series and on my hunt for trades, the series had to have been around issue # 54 or 55. When I started getting the comic monthly I think it was towards issue # 70 (hence the photo for this topic as it’s one of my favorite covers of the series)

That’s awesome you got to meet him and get vol.1 signed!


Yeah, from the beginning. I’ve dated myself, that series came out 25 years ago. Robinson was a very cool guy, very genuine.


Great post Superby! That’s what comics are supposed to do, entertain, support,challenge, inspire. It was great to hear such sincere appreciation of a title.


Great post superby1!

Starman is one of my all time favorite runs! I got into it because I was looking for an simple Halloween costume in 1998. :joy: With some help from a few friends I found the cover to Starman 45 in my local shop and went with it.

At some point in 1998 I read the issue picked up a few before and a few after and I was hooked. I went to a few shops and picked up every issue which I was missing up to that point and read it all. I fell in love with the characters, story, and the art. I related to what Jack was going through at times and his love of things past and collecting. I loved the relationship he has with his father. The great supporting cast of family, friends, heroes, and villains.

It is a spectacular series and I recommend it to everyone who will listen to me. I have the issues, some trades, and all the omnibus volumes, I have the statue, a couple figures and I still have my costume jacket I made in 1998.

I cannot express how special this series is and how much I love it. If anyone has not had the chance I 100% recommend anyone to read it.


@KamAndi80 (great name, btw. I realized it when I was typing it out) Thank you for the kind words.

@Jackknight_73, you went dressed as Jack?! That’s awesome! How did it turn out?? I have the statue, too. The first one I had, the fingers broke and the cosmic rod was messed up. I was lucky enough to find another one in a second-hand store for a good price. It rests on top of my book shelf. I’m always on the look out for the DC Direct badge and pin. A friend of mine was kind enough to donate the watch to me last summer.


superby1, every now and then I will search for the badge, I think I have only seen one in a store ever.

As for the costume, I thought it turned out great. The symbol on the back was hand made and drawn on myself out of stiff felt and ironed on the back. I borrowed sunglasses goggles from a friend, found a gold mop handle which was telescoping and used crayola magic mold to make the head piece of Jack’s staff. The magic mold was light so it was easy to shape and carry. I used some pvc pipe fitting to connect the head piece to the handle. It lasted for years and I brought it out now and then.

I attempted a Blue Beetle which was so so. I did a Dr Midnite and then a version of Red Robin and could interchange a lot of parts for each. The Red Robin had shell casings in a bandoleer and the center of an isolating fan made the symbol painted and attached. They both turned out well.

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@Jackknight_73, that sounds AMAZING! Also, kudos for a Dr. Midnite costume!


Resurrecting an old post I see…but I also (obviously from my name) love this Starman series. I started with issue #0 and have every issue, plus the Annuals, Secret Origins, JSA, Shade, and anything else I could get my hands on. I have several issues signed by James Robinson, and a few of the artists including Alex Ross on one of his covers. Sadly, I’ve never been able to meet either of the regular series artists and I really hope to! I also have the statue and action figures…my love of Jack has transferred to Courtney and Stargirl as well.


Ya…old post. I’m actually 4 issues in reading it for the first time, so I thought it was worth commenting. Pretty captivating. I’ve never believed that a guy didn’t want to be a hero as much as jack before. And the Shade is awesome.

I don’t know much about Starman or JSA characters, for that matter, except for a few event series and crossovers. I feel like I’d benefit from a little more research. I’d actually take any reading recommendations so I can familiarize myself with these characters as I continue with Starman.


You’ll find out a lot more about the JSA while continuing to read Starman, however seeing some of their early appearances in All-Star Comics would also be fun. They had a good reintroduction in the Justice Society of America 8 issue mini that came out in 1991 before they ended up getting their own series JSA again, which was co-written by James Robinson for a bit and featured Jack early on.

The Shade had 2 minis on his own, a 4 issue mini that sadly isn’t on this site, and a 12 issue one which is.

The concept of legacy in the DCU is what makes it so special and nothing brings that more home than how well Starman did it. Glad you’re enjoying!


@c-m-woodworks Stick with it. You’re in for something truly special! :slight_smile:



I had the chance to meet Tony Harris YEARS ago at a convention in MSG. He was a really cool and down to Earth guy. He did a simple head sketch of Jack in my program that I still have to this day. I have the statue too! Technically I had two. The first one I got, the fingers snapped off as did the top of the cosmic staff. I was bummed about it until I found another one at a second hand shop like five years ago. I’ve got the watch, too. My holy grails are finding the pin and the badge but you don’t see those in the wild or on ebay these days. The people that have them are holding onto them for dear like.

I loved that four issue Shade mini-series. I think it’s not on here because it hasn’t been digitized yet. I checked Comixology to make sure and they only have the twelve issue mini. If they don’t have it, we don’t have it so it hasn’t been digitized yet. Fingers crossed it does, though. I love that story with the Ludlow family, especially the final issue where he visits the last of the Ludows (we think) and they sit down to have a nice conversation.


And there’s this Tony Harris Starman Poster I’ve always had my eye on.


You really like starman, now I really feel bad that I didn’t enjoy it that much. Honestly seeing how it impacted a few people I might be willing to go back, and I’m currently reading that action comic you’ve mention.

Edit: action comic 792


You don’t have to feel bad. If it didn’t connect with you, that’s okay. Much like anything else, art is subjective :slightly_smiling_face: Believe me, you’re good!

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