Comic Review -‘Starman’ #1 (October 1988)

Starman #1 

Written by Roger Stern

Art by Tom Lyle

“Grassroots Hero”

In outer space, satellite Stellaron 5 absorbs radiation from the outer reaches, beaming this cosmic energy to a dish atop a building in Utah.  Below in a secret lab, Dr. Melrose and his lab assistants are using this energy to create new heroes.  However, Stellaron 5 is soon destroyed by space junk, causing the beam of energy to fly widely, its target and destination unknown.

Two hikers in Colorado find a man lying atop a mountain. They try to revive him but alas it’s too late, he is already dead. The male hiker notices a charred area around the body. The body is taken to a local morgue and as a doctor begins the autopsy, the deceased man springs to life, causing the doctor to stumble backwards and faint. A cop enters the morgue and pulls his gun on the recently revived man. The man crashes through a nearby window to escape and begins to fly. He lands safely on top of a truck. The truck stops at a diner and the man sneaks off and goes inside. Upon paying his bill, the man looks at a calendar and notices the date is June 22nd, he has lost at least a month of his life.

We learn that this man is named William Payton. As he makes his way through town, he encounters bank robbers. One of the robbers shoots William and the bullet bounces off him. Angered, William gives off bright light. The driver of the car, trying to run William over, is blinded by the light and crashes the car. With the robbers subdued and in custody, William flies off before he can answer any of the policemen’s questions.

William flies nearly 500 miles away to Phoenix, Arizona to his family home. He is greeted by his sister, Jayne. William shows Jayne his newfound powers. 3 days later, Jayne gives William a costume: purple and yellow with a star emblazoned on it. As the two discuss the costume, breaking news about a construction accident comes onto the television. William gets dressed in the costume and flies to the site. A man’s legs are pinned under heavy machinery. William tries to lift the machinery off the man, to no avail. As William psyches himself up, he’s able to lift the machinery off the man, but the weight is too much for William, and he ends up getting crushed. As the crowd looks on, the ground beneath the construction equipment begins to melt, as William bursts forth, unharmed.

A victorious William returns home and he and Jayne begin to discuss his future as a superhero. William has some misgivings about becoming a hero because he is afraid his sister and mother will become targets. William also realizes he has a lot to learn about his newfound powers and asks Jayne for help, which she agrees to wholeheartedly.

Dr. Melrose is given a newspaper with Starman on the front page. The hero has enhanced strength, flight, and the power to generate heat like a star, powers that were theorized that could be developed with their project. Dr. Melrose tells his assistant to find out all the information he can on Starman. If he received the power meant for the test subjects, the scientists are going to get it back from him one way or another.

Will Payton’s run as Starman ran for 45 issues from 1988 until 1992.  Will is 25 years old in issue one and he has a lot of problems like you and I.  After initially returning home, he begins looking for a job but is unable to find one, much to the dismay of his mother. Kinda reminds you of that ol’ Parker luck in Amazing Spider-Man. Will is hesitant at becoming a hero at first because he doesn’t like the new crop of heroes, specifically Booster Gold, who became a superhero solely for the notoriety and money. After some reassurances from Jayne, Will begins his path as a superhero by the end of the issue.

Will and his sister Jayne would be featured in James Robinson’s opus Starman in the mid to late 1990s. It was their resurgence in Starman that made me want to learn more about Will Payton’s turn as Starman and that it why I tracked down issue one not too long ago.

For those of you that like legacy heroes and rookie heroes just starting out, Starman #1 is definitely worth your time and attention.