Sylvester Pemberton

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Sylvester Pemberton
The Star-Spangled Kid (Sylvester Pemberton).png
Sylvester Pemberton as the Star-Spangled Kid in Infinity Inc. #31 (October 1986)
Art by Todd McFarlane
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceStar Spangled Comics #1 (October 1941)
Created byJerry Siegel
Hal Sherman
In-story information
Alter egoSylvester Pemberton, Jr.
Team affiliationsSeven Soldiers of Victory
All-Star Squadron
Justice Society of America
Infinity Inc.
Notable aliasesStar-Spangled Kid, Skyman
Abilities
  • Superb athlete
  • Hand to hand combatant
  • Cosmic converter belt

Sylvester Pemberton, alternately known as The Star-Spangled Kid and Skyman, is a fictional superhero in the DC Comics universe. Sylvester first appeared in Action Comics #40 (September 1941) and was created by Jerry Siegel and Hal Sherman.[1]

Starting October 1941, the character headlined his own comic, Star Spangled Comics, which introduced his sidekick, Stripesy.[2] Fall 1941 was a boom period for patriotic superheroes as the country prepared to enter World War II; during this period, comic book publishers also launched Miss Victory, Miss America, U.S. Jones, the Fighting Yank, the Flag, Captain Flag and Yank and Doodle, among others.[3]

The Star-Spangled Kid and his sidekick, Stripesy, appeared in Star Spangled Comics until issue #86 (Nov 1948). The comic continued after that, primarily as a vehicle for Robin the Boy Wonder. In issue #131 (Aug 1952), the book was renamed Star Spangled War Stories. The Star-Spangled Kid also appeared in World's Finest Comics from 1942 to 1945.[4]

A version of Sylvester Pemberton, now named Starman, appears on the DC Universe streaming service show Stargirl played by Joel McHale. The show also appears on The CW Network.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Star-Spangled Kid[edit]

The original Star-Spangled Kid was Sylvester Pemberton, a Golden Age character. He became the Star-Spangled Kid in order to battle Nazi spies and fifth columnists during World War II.[5] Sylvester was a spoiled, pampered rich kid who snuck out of the house to fight crime; his parents never suspected what their son was up to.[6]

He was unique in that he was a kid superhero who operated with an adult sidekick, Stripesy a.k.a. Pat Dugan, the family's chauffeur.[7] Both he and Dugan were superb acrobats and had sufficient training in hand-to-hand combat. They devised a series of acrobatic maneuvers that allowed them to build upon one another's strengths: the Kid's agility and Dugan's prowess. They also built the Star Rocket Racer, a bubble-topped limousine with the functions of a rocket and helicopter.

According to Jess Nevins' Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, the Kid's enemies "range from ordinary criminals and Axis agents to the mad scientist Dr. Weerd, False Face, the Black Magician, the moon-mad Moonglow, Presto the criminal magician, and the rope-gimmick using Rope."[8]

The Kid and Stripesy were members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory as well as the All-Star Squadron. In 1948, Pemberton and Dugan were joined by Merry, the Girl of 1000 Gimmicks, who supplanted The Kid and Stripsey from their own feature.

The Seven Soldiers were lost in time in 1950 and rescued decades later by the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America. Aquaman, Wildcat and the Silver Age Green Lantern rescued the Star-Spangled Kid, who was 50,000 years in the past and hiding in a cave so his flu would not wipe out humanity.[9] Sylvester then joined the JSA, at which time a then-injured Starman loaned him his cosmic rod (it was later revealed that Starman wanted the young man to become his heir as neither of his sons expressed interest in carrying the mantle).[10] Soon afterward, the Kid refined the technology of the rod, devising a belt with similar powers such as energy projection, flight and matter transmutation. Eventually, Sylvester temporarily retired from superheroics to reclaim his inheritance and his father's business, plus movie studio Stellar Studios, from his corrupt nephew, who was using those funds to run his own evil organization, Strike Force. In addition, he patched up his long-neglected relationship with Dugan and later became the hero known as Skyman post-Crisis after founding the heroic group known as Infinity, Inc.

Skyman[edit]

Pemberton's debut as Skyman in Infinity, Inc. #31 (October 1986). Art by Todd McFarlane.

Sylvester eventually changed his name to Skyman and took leadership of the team Infinity Inc. During this period he formed a partnership with the city of Los Angeles to commission the team as for-hire protectors. He also purchased property to revitalize related movie production facilities.

He later confronted Solomon Grundy, who was under the control of the third Harlequin. She herself was under the employ of the Dummy's Injustice Unlimited. During the incident, Solomon Grundy used the fatal touch of Mr. Bones to kill Skyman.[11]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Star-Spangled Kid has no superpowers, but is a superb athlete and hand-to-hand combatant. For a time he used Starman's cosmic rod. Later, he wore a "cosmic converter belt" which enabled him to fly, increased his strength and agility, and gave him the ability to create solid light objects and project energy blasts. When he reconfigured the belt into his new costume as Skyman, he initially only had the power of flight, but as time went on, he modified the suit so it possessed all of the other powers that the converter belt had as well.

The Second Star-Spangled Kid[edit]

Pat Dugan's stepdaughter, Courtney Whitmore, finds Sylvester's Star-Spangled Kid suit and cosmic belt and Pat's old Stripesy costume while snooping through Dugan's belongings. She steals Sylvester's suit and belt and, after redesigning the suit, calls herself the second Star-Spangled Kid, but only in order to annoy Pat as revenge for him marrying her mother and moving her family to a new state.[12] She later changes her name to Stargirl after an adventure confronting her convict father to resolve her issues with her personal life for a mission in JSA: Allstars (the graphic novel).

Sylvester, as Star-Spangled Kid, later returned with the JSA due to an alternate timeline in post-Crisis continuity to assist the Justice Society against Extant, when multiple alternate timelines came together due to Extant's attempt to collapse reality into a timeline of his creation. During this adventure, he teams up with Courtney.[13]

52[edit]

In the series 52, Lex Luthor bought the rights to Infinity Inc.'s name from the Pemberton Estate and gave the codename 'Skyman' to a new superhero, named Jacob Colby. Jacob had a relationship with Natasha Irons, and was portrayed as one of the more sincere heroes in Luthor's Infinity Inc. He was later killed and replaced by the shapeshifting Everyman.

In other media[edit]

  • Sylvester appeared in the two-hour Smallville TV movie Absolute Justice portrayed by Jim Shield. He appears as Star-Spangled Kid, warning Chloe Sullivan about someone hunting down and killing superheroes. Sylvester was killed soon afterward by the villain, revealed to be Icicle, and his cosmic staff was taken into police custody and later stolen by Courtney Whitmore. His death, along with Wesley Dodds's, brought about the reunion of the Justice Society of America. He was later mentioned by Chloe in the episode "Checkmate" when her friends were investigating Checkmate. The depiction of Sylvester bore a strong visual resemblance to Jack Knight including the use of the cosmic staff, an overcoat, and facial hair. His car the Star Rocket Racer is also seen.
  • The animated short film DC Showcase: Green Arrow features a short vocal cameo in the form of a news radio reporter in Star City named Sylvester The Skyman. Skyman is voiced by an uncredited Steve Blum.
  • A version of Sylvester Pemberton appears in the DC Universe series Stargirl portrayed by Joel McHale. While this version did operate as the Star-Spangled Kid as a teenager and his costume is inspired by his time as Skyman, his powers and superhero persona take inspiration from Starman instead.[14] Ten years prior to the series, as seen in the pilot episode, he and the Justice Society were attacked at their base by the Injustice Society. The villains' leader, Icicle, fatally wounded Sylvester, but his sidekick and friend, Pat Dugan, evacuated him. In his dying moments, he urged Pat to find someone worthy to wield his Cosmic Staff and ensure the Justice Society's legacy survived. His staff was later found by Courtney Whitmore, who became the show's titular character and his successor.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-1605490892.
  2. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Manning, Matthew K.; McAvennie, Michael; Wallace, Daniel (2019). DC Comics Year By Year: A Visual Chronicle. DK Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4654-8578-6.
  3. ^ Benton, Mike (1992). Superhero Comics of the Golden Age: The Illustrated History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company. p. 52. ISBN 0-87833-808-X. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  4. ^ Benton, Mike (1992). Superhero Comics of the Golden Age: The Illustrated History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company. pp. 184, 192. ISBN 0-87833-808-X. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  5. ^ Green, Paul (2017). Encyclopedia of Weird War Stories: Supernatural and Science Fiction Elements in Novels, Pulps, Comics, Film, Television, Games and Other Media. McFarland & Co. pp. 165–166. ISBN 978-1476666723.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 978-1605490892.
  7. ^ Markstein, Don. "The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  8. ^ Nevins, Jess (2013). Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. High Rock Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 978-1-61318-023-5.
  9. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 1) #100–102 (August–October 1972)
  10. ^ All-Star Comics (1976 revival) #58 (January/February 1976)
  11. ^ "Infinity Inc." #51–53 (1988)
  12. ^ Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1 (August 1999)
  13. ^ JSA #11 (June 2000)
  14. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (December 12, 2018). "Joel McHale Cast as Starman in DC Universe's "Stargirl"". Variety. Retrieved December 13, 2018.

External links[edit]

Star Spangled Comics series was debuted. See Star Spangled Comics for more info and the previous timeline. Timeline of DC Comics (1940s)
October 1941 (See also: Star-Spangled Kid and Pat Dugan)
The first Tarantula was debuted by Mort Weisinger. See Tarantula (DC Comics) for more info and next timeline. →