Sylvester Pemberton as the Star-Spangled Kid in Infinity Inc. #31 (October 1986)
Art by Todd McFarlane
|First appearance||Star Spangled Comics #1 (October 1941)|
|Created by||Jerry Siegel|
|Alter ego||Sylvester Pemberton, Jr.|
|Team affiliations||Seven Soldiers of Victory|
Justice Society of America
|Notable aliases||Star-Spangled Kid, Skyman|
Sylvester Pemberton, alternately known as The Star-Spangled Kid and Skyman, is a fictional superhero in the DC Comics universe. Sylvester first appeared in Star Spangled Comics #1 (October 1941) and was created by Jerry Siegel and Hal Sherman.
Starting October 1941, the character headlined his own comic, Star Spangled Comics, which introduced his sidekick, Stripesy. 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.
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.
Fictional character biography
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. 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.
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. 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."
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. 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). 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.
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.
Powers and abilities
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
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. 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.
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
- Sylvester Pemberton / Star-Spangled Kid appeared in the live-action Smallville TV movie Absolute Justice, portrayed by Jim Shield. This version bore a strong visual resemblance to Jack Knight / Starman, most notably Pemberton's use of the Cosmic Staff. Pemberton warns Chloe Sullivan about someone hunting down and killing superheroes before he is killed soon afterward by Icicle. 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.
- A news radio reporter called Sylvester the Skyman makes a vocal cameo in the animated short film DC Showcase: Green Arrow, voiced by an uncredited Steve Blum.
- A variation of Sylvester Pemberton appears in the live-action 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. 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 Pemberton's successor. In the two-part season one finale, "Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.", a man claiming to be Pemberton searches for Pat in California.
- Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-1605490892.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 978-1605490892.
- Markstein, Don. "The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
- Nevins, Jess (2013). Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. High Rock Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 978-1-61318-023-5.
- Justice League of America (vol. 1) #100–102 (August–October 1972)
- All-Star Comics (1976 revival) #58 (January/February 1976)
- "Infinity Inc." #51–53 (1988)
- Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1 (August 1999)
- JSA #11 (June 2000)
- Turchiano, Danielle (December 12, 2018). "Joel McHale Cast as Starman in DC Universe's "Stargirl"". Variety. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
- JSA Fact File: Star-Spangled Kid I
- Earth-2 Star-Spangled Kid Index
- DCU Guide: Star Spangled Kid
- Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy at Don Markstein's Toonopedia Archived from the original on March 16, 2017. Additional WebCitation archive on June 4, 2017.
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October 1941 (See also: Star-Spangled Kid and Pat Dugan)
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