Fire & Water #155 – First Issue Special #12: Starman

This week Rob and special guest Chris Franklin (SUPER MATES PODCAST) discuss FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL #12 (March 1976) starring the all-new, all-different Starman, by Gerry Conway, Mike Vosburg, and Mike Royer!

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Opening theme, "That Time is Now," by Michael Kohler. Closing music by Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

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17 responses to “Fire & Water #155 – First Issue Special #12: Starman

  1. I listened to this episode at six in the morning, but now that the episode is posted here on the website, I don’t remember what I was going to say. 😛

  2. Rob, how could you not read the entirety of Starman? Fix this immediately! truly, it was arguably the best series of the 90s (along with Hellboy and Astro City). The regular storylines are fantastic; but, my favorites were the interludes, the Talking With David segments, where Jack would meet up with the ghost of his brother, who catches up with Jack every year and brings him a few surprises (including one that brought tears to my eyes when I first read it.

    The other great part is the Times Past stories. They are little trips to various eras in Opal City history, featuring adventures of Ted Knight, Brian Savage, aka Scalphunter, who became a lawman in turn-of-the-century Opal, the past of The Shade, and more. These segments would feature guest artists, like the awesome Gene Ha, and often have guest stars, like an adventure with Ted and his cousin, Sandra Knight, aka Phantom Lady.

    There is a great crossover with Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont (it’s a toss-up as to whether Jack is a bigger fan of Wes or Dian); and excellent one with Jerry ordway’s Power of Shazam series and To the Stars, as Chris said, has tons of guest stars, including the best use of Adam Strange (who would turn up later, on Earth) since the Bronze Age JLA stories.

    The parallels to The Man Who Fell to Earth are deliberate. Robinson includes narration that mentions that the Starman name came from a bystander, who thought Mikaal looked like Bowie.

    Loved First Issue Special, Especially the Code Name: Assassin feature. It was an excellent premise for a hero, though the execution was a little shaky, in parts. It ended on a great cliffhanger, that didn’t get resolved, though I know the title turned up inrecent years (don’t know if the character did. Of course, the Warlord debut is the most famous. The Return of the New Gods launch was pretty good, though the first issue of the revived series was really the high point, for me. That run is so-so on the story; but, has some awesome Don Newton artwork. It was a victim of the Implosion, so the story was wrapped up in Adventure comics and JLA, with the JLA and JSA crossing over with the New Gods.

    I loved all of the Starman iterations, even Will Payton, though I was never fond of either version of the costume. Roger Sterne wrote some great little stories and Tom Lyle really came into his own on the series. There’s a nice story where Will meets David Knight and they battle over the name. This, too, would be referenced in the James Robinson series. Robinson tapped into everything.

    1. Amen on all points!!!

      I can’t believe I forgot to mention Adam Strange, who becomes a supporting character in the title for a while. I mention Space Cabbie, but not Adam. Sheesh.


  3. Listening to the episode, I realize I got the “official” number of each Starman wrong, at least if you go by the Robinson/Harris series. Here is the list (no spoilers):
    1. Ted Knight
    2. The Starman of 1951 (Batman in Pre-Crisis continuity, but a mystery in the series, until the last story arc)
    3. Mikaal Tomas (Michael Thomas)
    4. Prince Gavyn
    5. Will Payton
    6. David Knight
    7. Jack Knight

    So Jack is the 7th (!) Starman by the time the series begins. Wow!


    1. And then the Legion’s Thom Kallor became Starman (as Danny Blaine) in JSA, although perhaps Kingdom Come would be his real first appearance.

  4. Awesome episode as always. Long time listener, first time commenter.

    DC’s Starmen have always been my jam, and Mikaal is no exception. A fun old concept that Robinson managed to make an exceptional character.

    Don’t forget the ever-so-brief appearance of a Starman in the 1950s. Pre-Crisis it was a disguise Batman used to confuse his enemies, but later it was retconned by Robinson as a disguise used by Dr. Mid-Nite.

    So that gives us Ted Knight as Starman I, the Starman of the 50’s as Starman II, Mikaal Tomas as Starman III, Prince Gavyn as Starman IV, Will Payton as Starman V, David Knight as Starman VI and Jack Knight as Starman VII. Phew!

  5. Thank you, gentlemen, for letting me know where to go to find out how this story finally “ended”…

    Rob, I suspect the use of “Coming Soon” in the Batman V Superman trailer was to allow for it to be used as an international trailer in other (English-speaking, at least) countries in which the release date of the movie may be different. This is only a guess…

  6. Yeah, I didn’t want to add him in, because it gets murky with him and the DC 1 Million Starman. I guess Thom is Starman 7, but you also have Courtney as Stargirl….


  7. Am I the only one who bought this issue because of the Robinson/Harris series? Same for some Prince Gavyn Adventure Comics issues. For a long time it was the oldest comic I owned.

        1. No, I found the old DC message boards were far too troll heavy. I used to joke about it being a “wretched hive of scum and villainy”. I can’t remember if I ever tried out the Starman forum, but I did hang out in the Batman forums for a bit. Yeesh!

          I don’t have that DCCP! It’s something I need to rectify, but I tend to leave finding old books like that for hunts in “the wild” rather than get them off ebay, etc. Makes looking through longboxes more fun. I just haven’t come across that one. I know Robinson retold elements of that story in Starman Annual #1.


          1. Really good story, from Jim Starlin. I liked the blue costume redesign, as the original Ditko Red and yellow just looked a little too old school and generic. This one was less busy and emphasized the star better. Plus, it showcased the energy bands better. The white imperial cape, seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths was the perfect topper.

            I didn’t buy this, in the day; but, did in college, when I bought several issues of the series for less than $.50 each, at the local comic shop. Of course, they didn’t have the Warlord intro; but, I found it that same summer, in St Louis, for a reasonable price. The only First Issue Special I recall reading near publication was the Metamorpho issue and that was because my cousin had it.

            I had to dig it out and reread it, when Robinson brought Mikaal into Jack’s world.

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