Now I must confess that despite Steve Ditko's involvement with the feature of Starman, I mostly went to the quixotic Adventure Comics
of this era for the Plastic Man feature by Mike Barr and Joe Staton. Staton I thought the ideal artist for Plas as my beloved E-Man
by Staton and the late Nick Cuti had been partially inspired by Jack Cole's classic creation. But if I went to the dance for Plas, I wasn't to sad to spend a bit of time with Prince Gavyn, better known as Starman, one of a myriad of chaps who have held that title.
The first was the Golden Age Ted Kight created by Gardner Fox and Jack Burnely for early issues of Adventure Comics,
who discovered the power of the "Gravity Rod" and used it to become one of the more powerful superheroes of his time. Later dubbed the "Cosmic Rod" it was loaned to Star-Spangled Kid when a younger generation of heroes took charged of the Justice Society on what was once called Earth-2. What it's called today is anyone's guess.
Gerry Conway and Mike Vosburg created a second Starman who alternately owes his name to the DC original or Ziggy Stardust or some variation of that. He lasted all of one issue of 1st Issue Special though later he was dusted off and made part of the larger DCU canon as a character who pushed the boundaries of not outer space but sexual orientation.
The fourth Starman was eventually revealed to have become a superhero as a result of getting a charge of energy from Prince Gavin who was the Starman we are most focused on today. This Starman's career blossomed and wilted in the 1980's as recorded by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle among others.
And finally (I think) the heritage of Ted Knight is returned to when both of his sons become Starman in turn. One is killed while the other has a reasonably long career in the 90's as reluctant hero. James Robinson was the writer and worked diligently to tie together the threads of a saga of "Starmen" from across a number of decades.
The Starman that Ditko drew for DC was heavily inked by Romeo Tanghal and created by Paul Levitz. He gets a bit of inspiration visually from Ditko's own Captain Atom,
created for Charlton with Joe Gill decades before I believe. Those sparkles on his costume give more than hint of his pedigree.
The sparkly look was something used by Jim Starlin when he revamped another stellar superhero for Marvel Comics called logically enough Captain Marvel.
The common blonde hair might also be a reminder of where these similar heroes hail from.
Ironically enough (or by careful planning) after a somewhat decent run in Adventure Comics
alongside Plas and later Aquaman, Starman's adventures come to an abrupt halt. He was a royal who had the ability to live in space and was tapped by an enigmatic alien to use two wristbands ("Nega Bands" anyone?) to channel stellar energy. He used these powers to protect a queen who was also his sister and to rescue many among them his true love another chick of royal blood.
All this is undone when after the cancellation of the series the story is wrapped in DC Comics Presents and features Jim Starlin using Mongol as the villain who usurps the throne and kills the queen. Prince Gavyn becomes emperor, changes into blue duds and ends up teaming with Superman to not only defeated Mongol but destroying the empire itself which we learn was literally held together by the stellar force of the crown itself. Once free the assembled planets vamoose and the empire is no more but Gavyn is free to find love at long last.
After the debut Ditko did not draw anymore Starman covers, but talents such as Jim Aparo, Joe Staton, Rich Buckler, Brian Bolland and Ross Andru did many, with the focus shifting among the heroes who shared the title at the time. Here are the covers from the Starman era.