First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.15: Starman #5

Bass and Siskoid cover Starman #5, which takes place before, during and after episode 5’s Firestorm issue. Finally, the REST of the story. Plus, the Starman legacy and what it means to us!

Listen to Episode 15 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings may apply), or subscribe to First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: First Strike ep.15 Supplemental

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13 responses to “First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.15: Starman #5

  1. What, no mention of Shag’s “peanut butter & jelly” designation for Payton’s original costume? I thought it was in our F&W contracts?

    This version of Starman was one of those comics I was REALLY into for a short amount of time, but I just kind of lost interest. I desperately wanted to be on the ground floor of a big new character, so I tried Starman, Manhunter, Darkhawk, Sleepwalker…tons of late 80s/early 90s characters that just didn’t stick.

    I didn’t realize Eclipso claimed a hand in Payton’s origin. Poor Will, for a character that was still pretty new when Robinson finally got around to him in his Starman, the guy had like 3 origins!

    If only some podcast would chronicle those James Robinson/Tony Harris Jack Knight Starman comics…but who? Oh wait…!!!

    Chris Franklin, co-host of the Super Mates Podcast, featuring The Starman Chronicles Series.

    1. First, yes, I should have referenced the Super-Mates’ focus on Jack Knight, but I was all Will Paytonned out of my mind. Will certainly mention it next time.

      Second, bringing up Shag’s designation for the costume would required me to pay attention to Shag when he speaks, which is difficult.

  2. I was on the road for about four hours today and spent much of the drive listening to this episode and the latest episode of Michael Bailey’s VIEWS FROM THE LONGBOX: Legends Episode 2. It felt like you were there in the car with me, Siskoid!

    The original Starman, Ted Knight, is one of my favorite heroes from the Golden Age. Amazing character design: red costume with a fin on the skullcap (like my beloved Adam Strange), simple star emblem on the chest, gun holster at the hip, and a basic cylindrical-shaped weapon like something Doctor Who or a Jedi would wield. Classic pulp look-and-feel that straddles the Mystery Man and ’50s Sci-Fi modes.

  3. Referring to Tom Lyle as an “it” artist was funny. I suppose he was if you stretch out the meaning. Even though I have a soft spot for Lyle because of all the great Robin minis he drew, his specific awkwardness doesn’t generally do it for me (and I oftentimes respond well to awkward styles). Similar to Jim Valentino, Lyle’s work just looks like he never felt comfortable drawing, like it was always a profound struggle. The fact that, as a rookie, his underdeveloped idiosyncrasies were on display don’t make these Starman comics any fun to look at.

    Same with the previous comic you covered. Power of the Atom is a slog to get through. I’ve never been a fan of Nolan’s toothless rendering, and his earlier work really reflects that sort of blandness, no matter who the inker was. You’d think Roger Stern was being punished, judging by these collaborators (and yet, all his Superman-related jobs during this exact period were stellar).

    Oddly enough, Stern was writing Starman, Atom, and Ditko’s Speedball simultaneously for almost a year. All 3 titles share that old fashioned, back-to-basics approach to super heroics. Stern was basically a one-man war on the oncoming 90s. Too bad only 1 of his 3 soldiers was a master cartoonist.

  4. Will Payton came along during that sour spot where I was exiting my DC reading after the Post-Crisis buzz wore off and before I was drawn back with “Titans Hunt.” I thought he looked awful and served no purpose. In retrospect, with all I’ve learned about Payton in the decades since, I nailed it. His power set is completely generic except for the mild shape-shifting, making him a third option to pretend to be Clark Kent/Superman in an identity jam if the Matrix Supergirl or J’Onn J’Onzz were busy and super-speed clothes changes were out. As I’ve often noted, DC is plenty well stocked on white guys of all ages, but especially twenty-somethings, so he brought nothing to the diversity table. But then again, the only friend I knew who bought a single issue of this book new was black, so what do I know?

    I’m going to have to agree with Michel Fiffe on Tom Lyle. The only book I ever liked him on was The Comet, and !mpact was the rare sort of line where Lyle could have been considered an “it” artist. More likely, Tim Drake bring marketed heavily as the new Robin in a solo outing at the peak of the speculator boom carried Tom Lyle with him. But then he jumped ship before the long running and quite successful ongoing series in favor of getting laid off along with others responsible for Clone Sage Spider-Man comics and soon after leaving the industry. Worse, they launched the Robin ongoing with Tom Grummett, an undersung hero of DC’s Chromium Age, so nobody missed Lyle on a property he helped develop. And the thing is, I don’t dislike Lyle’s work (with the exception of Starman,) but I’m not moved by it, either. It’s on the flashier side of pedestrian. I wouldn’t kick him off a book I already liked, and I can think of a bunch that I wish he’d done instead of lesser lights I suffered through*, but he was never my first choice on anything. And yes, he had his ticks– his very particular heads/squish faces and that action figure anatomy.

    *For instance, Power of the Atom, as I find Graham Nolan on the Alex Saviuk side of pedestrian. By the way, Roger Stern wrote two series about heroes who very pointedly turned down the JLI while also openly criticising them in favor of continuing to have boilerplate adventures little regarded then and largely forgotten today. Say what you will about Indiana Governor Mike Pence, but hitching his wagon to a walking worst case scenario was the best career choice he could have made, given his prospects. Maybe if Will Payton just held his nose and jumped aboard, he wouldn’t have been the sole casualty of The Darkness Within. Ditto Roger Stern, who never recovered from leaving Marvel for DC for Marvel again. His glory days ended the second he switched teams at the precise moment when his brand of storytelling was falling out of fashion, and he only aggravated that by badmouthing by proxy DC’s next big thing. Do note that Keith Giffen specifically killed Payton.

  5. Excellent show Bass and Siskoid. Like Firestorm, Starman was a series I did not collect at the time so it was interesting for me to hear this aspect of the Invasion storyline that I had not picked up.

    The Will Peyton character was someone I only came across irregularly. Apart from a humourous JLA issue, where Guy Gardner and Will have a massive dust up as Guy offered Starman membership of the JLI, and his role in the Superman storyline “Krisis of the Krimsom Kryptonite”, the main storyline I know Will Peyton from was Eclipso: The Darkness Within Crossover, where Giffen and Fleming had Eclipso turned Starman and used his shape shifting powers to (a) disguise the fact that he was eclipsed and (b) infiltrate other heroes to eclipse them. As Starman had faced Eclipso in the last tale in his solo series before it got cancelled, it was a neat way to use that history to fuel the Eclipso crossover. I had read the revelation that Will Peyton was alive in the James Robinson Starman series but never got to the realisation of that plotline so must trace that down.

  6. Will Payton is one of my favorite Non Magnificent Seven DC characters. About a year after I started collecting the Superman titles I began checking out other titles and STARMAN was one of them. I remember buying issue four to read as I waited for a haircut and it was only because of the trifecta of spotty newsstand distribution, a lack of disposable income and the fact that I was 12 and thus had no means of getting to the Trexlertown Mall on a regular basis that kept me from buying the book on a regular basis. In the summer of 1989 I picked the book up again (thanks in no small part to a Superman guest appearance that sort of crossed over into an issue of ACTION COMICS) and found that I really liked this Will Payton guy. In 1997 I finally broke down and bought the entire series and found it to be an extremely enjoyable read. I am a mark for Roger Stern and while I liked the Tom Lyle art I was also fond of Dave Hoover’s work on the title.

    The fact that I liked Will so much isn’t surprising. He was a fairly straight ahead super hero that did the right thing because it was the right thing to do. He had a great supporting cast and he was likable even after finding out the truth behind his powers. Stern brought in Kitty Faulkner, a Superman character that I was also fond of, and for awhile she was a nice addition to his support system. Plus it was cool to see Rampage again. Will’s ultimate fate was extremely disappointing and was a waste of a good character. While I was happy that James Robinson referenced the character and even brought in one of his supporting cast the ultimate revelation of why Will got his powers in the first place (the second for those keeping score) was a real let down. I won’t go into why because Jimmy hasn’t read those books yet. Suffice to say I think Robinson undercut what made Will his own character in an attempt to tie all of the Starmen together.

    Great episode as always, gentlemen. As usual you are doing the Lord’s work.

  7. Hooray! The Will Payton Starman!! Love this character! I’ve told the story many times (so I won’t cover the details here), but this Will Payton STARMAN series is responsible for pulling me back from Mature/edgy/Vertigo books, back to enjoying superhero comics again!

    Nice coverage! It was fun to see someone else discover Will Payton. One of the things Stern was going for was to create a new young, likable hero (sort of like Firestorm in his early years) and have him be somewhat “meta” about being a hero. Payton knew he was a new superhero in a world full of superheroes. So he would frequently compare his actions to Superman (i.e. “What would Superman do?”). Made it fun to watch him try and figure out the whole superhero business.

    And Chris Franklin is right above, poor Will ended up with at least 3 different origin retcons. He was a simple, straightforward hero that deserved a simple, straightforward destiny. They didn’t need to bog it down with retcons, death, and resurrection/transformation. Would have been nice to just have him around helping saving the day. At least they found a way to keep some of his supporting cast around (but that’s a spoiler for another day, and someone else’s podcast)

    Still loving this podcast!!! Great comics and great coverage!! (and 100% better than the CW Invasion crossover episodes – YUCK!)!

    PS: Starman Will Payton “Peanut Butter and Jelly Costume” < Starman Will Payton Black and Red Costume

    1. Despite the announcement that Swamp Thing would be next, we ARE going to do a CW Invasion episode first. I’m not done yet, but I’m barely more enthusiastic than you are at this point.

  8. Wait, really? Judging by a few scattered comments, I thought Invasion was turning out great. I haven’t seen it yet but have been very much looking forward to it. Sounds like it’s flopping–?

    1. Some of my problems are at least contextual and won’t interfere with other people’s enjoyment. You’ll just have to listen to next week’s show to find out the details! 😉

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