Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Your ‘Starman’ timeline!

[I did this timeline after I wrote my original Comics You Should Own about Starman, and much like the Daredevil one, I thought I should put this here. I reference some of the comments in the original post, which you can find here. The comments are actually pretty good. This was fun. I haven’t read anything since Starman that is so tightly plotted, time-wise (maybe The Wicked + The Divine, but that’s not quite as non-linear as this series), but I would like to, because it’s fun to unravel it. Enjoy!]

I enjoy comics that have discernible timelines, because then I can put something like this together! Starman was anchored in “real time,” but even as it started to drift, we can still see some discernible dates for when things happen. And, of course, everything in the past is very closely pegged to a date, so it’s fairly easy to construct a timeline. So that’s what I did! And don’t forget – MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW!!!!

Starman isn’t just the regular series, of course. So I used abbreviations:

StM = Starman, the ongoing series
StM Ann = Starman Annual
Sh = The Shade mini-series
SFO = Secret Files and Origins
80-Page = Starman 80-Page Giant
Jour = The Shade’s journal
JSA = JSA All-Stars
ShC 95 = Showcase ’95
ShC 96 = Showcase ’96
St & STRIPE = Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E.
PoSH = Power of Shazam!
Mist = The Mist one-shot
Bat/Hell/StM = Batman/Hellboy/Starman

All right, let’s get to it!

1568: Jon Valor fights at the Battle of San Juan de Ulúa. The date is easy to peg because the battle actually took place. (StM 31)

1625/1626: Jon Valor fights his own son, Justin, who’s working for the Spanish. They part friends. This date is a guess based on when Charles I became king of England, which happened in 1625. Valor implies that it’s fairly early in Charles’s reign, and it would have to be, given the span of years between 1568 and Charles’s reign. (StM 31)

c. 1630: Jon Valor gets a letter from Justin, who’s in trouble. He sails for Port O’Souls and meets Cob Dunning. Later he’s framed for Justin’s murder and hanged, but not before he curses the people of Port O’Souls to know no peace until his innocence is proven. When he dies, he has to be at least 80 years old, if we assume he was 18 in 1568. (StM 31) (In SFO, Port O’Souls is founded in 1648. It’s possible, I suppose – there’s no date given in issue #31 – but the Battle of San Juan de Ulúa, as I pointed out, actually occurred in 1568, so Valor would have been almost 100 when he was hanged if it was 1648. I guess it’s not that important.)

1835: Burnley Ellsworth is born. (StM 5, 33)

1838: Dickie Swift (whose name we don’t learn for a while) becomes the Shade. The next day, with no memory, he meets Piers Ludlow and his troubles really begin. Emma and Rupert Ludlow swear revenge after the Shade kills their entire family. Charles Dickens finds the Shade and reminds him that they’re friends (he also mentions Culp, which is interesting). (Sh 1) We later learn that Culp gained his powers on the same night as the Shade. (StM 66)

1850: The Shade and Culp fight in India. (StM 66)

1857: The Shade meets Hans Christian Andersen at Charles Dickens’s house. (StM 6)

1864: Burnley Ellsworth founds Opal City, “using the riches he’d amassed gem mining in Australia.” Sort of, as there was already a town in the spot. (StM 0)

1865: The Shade is attacked by and then kills Rupert Ludlow. (Sh 2)

1866: The Shade fights Culp in Vienna. (StM 66)

1869: The Shade kills Emma Ludlow’s oldest son in Paris. (Sh 2)

1877: Damon Merritt meets Oscar Wilde at Oxford. (StM 24)

1879: Merritt summons a demon and exchanges his soul for immortality. (StM 24)

1880: The Shade visits Opal City for the first time (SFO)

1881: Ben Luddy is born. (StM 68)

1882: The Shade meets Oscar Wilde in Opal City. Jason Mayville asks him to help get his sister, Annette, away from Lune, the “mesmerist” in the Pepper Troupe. The Shade receives a rose for his payment (plus 10 percent of Mayville’s wealth). (StM 6) Culp “saves” the Shade from a Ludlow assassin while he’s meeting with Wilde. (StM 66)

1884: Brian Savage becomes sheriff of Opal City. (SFO)

1880s (?): Brian Savage kills Benjamin Ludlow, Rupert’s oldest son, because he owed the Shade a favor. (Sh 2)

1889: Carny O’Dare (I assume) arrives in Opal. (StM 1 – Hope simply says that “an O’Dare” came to the city in this year, but it’s probably Carny)

1891: The Shade leaves England, returning only once more during World War II, and settles in Opal City. (StM 18)

1891: Merritt spends the year as a riverboat gambler. (StM 24)

1891: Brian Savage hooks up with Margaret DeVere but can’t stay with her because their lives are too different. (StM Ann 2)

1893: The Shade battles Marcus Ludlow. (Sh 2)

1894: Cyrus Gold is murdered in the swamps of Gotham City. (StM 34)

1894: Brian Savage and the Shade get involved with a case in which an African totem is the central clue. (80-Page 1)

1898: Ben Luddy fights with Teddy Roosevelt in “Panama.” Is that a mistake, or is history slightly different in the DCU? (StM 68)

September 1899: Herman Moll builds his rocket; his cousins hire the Shade to kill him. He refuses, but they eventually have Herman committed to an asylum. (StM 54)

December 1899: Brian Savage kills the Tuesday Club. Jason Mayville kills Savage. Carny O’Dare kills Mayville. O’Dare becomes sheriff. (StM 74)

c. 1900: Jack and Mikaal visit Krypton. (StM 51)

1901-1910 (During the “Edwardian era”): The Shade visits Bill Lofthouse in Iceland. Bill and his bride are killed at the wedding rehearsal by a Ludlow, whom the Shade pursues into the wilderness. There the Shade meets the Devil. (Jour)

1908: Ben Luddy opens law offices in Ivy Town. (StM 68)

1909: The “great expansion” begins. (StM 68) Issue #0 says this took place in the 1920s, although the Shade’s journal says 1909. According to SFO, it took place from 1909-1930. That clears that up!

December 1911: Ben Luddy meets Hamilton Drew. (StM 68)

1912: The Shade plays rummy on a train to Vienna with Darios Carlei and Basil Trent, who later reveals that he’s a Ludlow. The Shade kills him. (Jour)

1914-1918: Steven Savage, Brian Savage’s son, fights in World War I. It’s unclear if he waits until the U.S. joins the war or not. (StM Ann 2)

1918: Mob wars in Opal, culminating in the siege of Garlic Lane. Carny O’Dare ends the wars. (Jour)

1919: Merritt sells guns to the Black and Tans and then to Michael Collins. (StM 24)

1920s (presumably): The Shade becomes friends with John Gilbert. Louis B. Mayer drove Gilbert out of the industry, which is why the Shade “kills” him later. (Jour)

1922: Opal City Hall is built. (StM 17)

1923: Sanderson Ludlow becomes friends with the Shade and kills himself rather than fight the Shade. (Sh 2)

1926: Hamilton Drew and Ben Luddy learn of Merritt and pursue him for years afterward. Eventually Drew is dragged into the poster and Luddy is committed to an asylum. (StM 24)

1929: Burnley Ellsworth dies. (StM 5, 33)

1931: Merritt flies mail planes in the Andes and learns the secret of his power. (StM 24)

1931: The Shade and Marguerite Ludlow fall in love, but then she poisons him and he has to kill her. (Sh 2)

1931-1933: Harry Ajax appears on a beach (in, we assume, Hawaii, although it’s never stated in the text), begins painting Hawaiian shirts, then disappears after he claims he painted the “gateway to Heaven” on the back of one. (StM 4)

1936: The Book of Tunes is stolen from a Turkish convent. (StM 42)

1939-1940: Ted Knight assists in developing the atomic bomb. (SFO)

20 November 1939: In his journal, the Shade records the first sighting of Starman. (Jour)

1940: The Shade and Captain X team up in London (prior to Dunkirk, probably). (Sh 2)

13 October 1940: The Shade decides Starman is jake after he defeats Johnny Sorrow and rescues a bunch of people from the burning Gladstone Towers. (Jour)

1941: The Shade fights Culp in London. A bomb hits them both, merging them. (StM 66)

August 1941: Ted Knight fights the Mist for the first time. I’m using this date because that’s when Adventure Comics #67, the first appearance of the Mist, came out. I haven’t read that issue, but I imagine it’s completely different than the story told in Starman #18, in which the Shade writes of their first meeting. But that’s okay. It’s just an imaginary timeline. (StM 18)

November 1941: Ted Knight fights German agents in Opal. (JSA 4)

9 February 1942: The Normandie sinks in New York harbor (in real life, it was accidental). Ted Knight and James Barr (Bulletman) are in Alaska thwarting a Nazi plot. Years later, Barr is framed so that people believe he was part of the group of saboteurs that sank the ship. (StM 39)

December 1942: Wonder Woman and the women in the heroes’ lives fight Brainwave. According to Ted, it’s before Shiera became Hawkgirl, which occurred in All-Star Comics #5, which came out in April 1941. (StM 69) [Edit: I originally had this in 1940/1941, but Chaim points out in the comments that it’s actually a retelling of All-Star Comics #15, which came out in December 1942. So I’m putting it there. It seems like All-Star Comics #5, which was Hawkgirl’s first appearance, might have been a one-off for a time, so maybe that’s what Ted remembers.]

1943: Starman saves an O’Dare. Later this is revealed to be Billy O’Dare, and it’s during Ted’s first encounter with the Prairie Witch. (StM 1; StM Ann 1)

1943: The Shade gets involved in his adventure with Howard Hughes. (Jour)

Halloween – 10 November 1943: Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady) fights the Prairie Witch. Ted pitches in. (StM 44)

1944: Ted and Wesley Dodds battle the Gambler. (StM 21 & 22)

1944: Solomon Grundy arises from the swamps. (StM 34)

1944: Ted meets Etrigan and stops a group of Nazis from using the Book of Tunes to call up a monster. (StM 42) Later we find out that the dimension the Nazis were going to use is still there, waiting for Culp to use it. (StM 68)

Sometime between 1941 and 1945, Ted gets caught up in the case involving the African sculpture. (80-Page 1)

1946: Ted has a nervous breakdown, partly because he helped develop the atom bomb. (StM 42)

1950: Jay Garrick retires from superheroing. The Spider moves to Keystone City from St. Louis and becomes the new hero in town. (Sh 3)

1951: The Shade learns about the Spider’s origins. Linda Dalt falls in love with the Spider. The Shade kills the Spider. (Sh 3) We later find out his name was Tom Ludlow Hallaway and he had a son (Lucas Ludlow-Dalt), whom Culp recruits. (StM 68) Interestingly enough, in Starman #1, we find out that Dalt’s Bank is “one of the leading financial institutions in Opal City.” Did Robinson forget this, or did Linda Dalt found the bank after her lover’s death?

1951: Jake Benetti fights Starman. Is this David, or is it Charles McNider? I think it’s McNider, because David was only Starman for the last month or so of the year, and it’s clearly summertime. Maybe Robinson didn’t know yet that McNider would be Starman for a while? (80-Page 1)

Early 1951: Doris Lee, Ted Knight’s girlfriend, is murdered. (StM 77) (According to SFO, this takes place before 1950, but in issue #77, David tells Jack it happened earlier in 1951.)

1951: Ted Knight leaves Opal City and meets his future wife, Adele Drew. (SFO) This doesn’t really jive with Jack’s adventure in 1951. Ted seems to have been in the asylum for a while and not gallivanting around, but maybe Robinson changed his mind, as SFO came out a few years before issue #77.

29 December 1951 – 1 January 1952: Jack is placed in this time by Kent Nelson, and he meets David and they fight the Mist together. David says the Starman of 1951 was around for a year and a day, and he has three days left. So it’s the 29th, right? Maybe the 28th. Jack meets his dad, who’s in the mental institution. Later, he convinces Ted to go to the party where he meets his future wife. (StM 77-79)

1952: Jake Benetti and the Shade team up to stop assassins from killing Starman. At the same time, Ted is teaming up with the Jester to fight the Fiddler, the Icicle, and the Gambler. (StM 46)

1953: Merritt exhibits paintings in Belgium. (StM 24)

1953: The Shade meets Sam Mild for the last time. (Jour)

1956: Ben Luddy dies in a “madhouse.” (StM 68)

29 October 1957: The Shade kills Louis B. Mayer, and claims the Hollywood establishment and the LAPD covered it up. Mayer died of leukemia, so I wonder how the Shade killed him to make it look like that. (Jour)

1957/1958: Matt O’Dare is born. As Omar pointed out in the comments, in the 80-Page Giant, Mikaal mentions that Tiffany stole the statue from a kid who had just applied to be a police cadet. Matt was the last person to own the statue, so it’s obviously him, and he would have had to be 18 or 19 in 1976. (80-Page 1)

1959: The Adele Knight wing of the museum is dedicated. (StM 4) This doesn’t make too much sense, as Adele Knight was still alive in 1959. Perhaps Robinson originally had her dying earlier but realized that Jack and David needed to be younger than their mid-30s when the book began, which they would have been if they had been born before 1959. It’s not a mistake – in Starman #1, Jack narrates that it was her dying bequest, so in issue #4, Adele Knight was dead by 1959, even though later she’s obviously alive in the mid-1960s. Nobody’s perfect, especially with a sliding time scale!

1960: The Shade kills another Ludlow during an adventure in which he meets the Vigilante and Sierra Smith. (Sh 3)

1960s: Johnny Peril fights Merritt. (StM 24)

Mid-1960s: Ted and Dinah Lance have an affair. At the end of it, Ted’s wife is pregnant with David, and David is probably around 30 when he’s killed in 1994, putting this no earlier than, say, 1963 and no later than, say, 1968, because David is older than Jack and Jack already owns his business in 1994. (StM Ann 2) (SFO was published in February 1998, and David’s birth is listed as “thirty-four years ago,” making the date of his birth 1964.)

1968: Jack Knight born. (SFO)

Sometime before 1976: The young O’Dares foil the Cardboard Gang. Clarence, the oldest, is already on the force, but the rest of them are pre-teens, it seems, so if Mason is in his mid-20s when the series begins, the mid-1970s seems about right for this story, but it’s before Mikaal’s story. (80-Page 1)

1974: The Mist and the Icicle kill the Invisible Hood in Austin, Texas. (StM 2)

1976: Mikaal comes in contact with the African statue and kills No Mercy, also known as Louis Soul (Frankie Soul’s father). This has to take place before his fight with Komak (see below), because he’s abducted right after that. (80-Page 1)

1976: Mikaal fights Komak in a disco and kills him. Then he immediately gets abducted and disappears. According to Jack, reading the Shade’s journal, Mikaal ended up at the circus in 1988. This contradicts issue #8 (see below). (StM 28) (According to SFO, Mikaal relocated to Opal and then disappeared. This contradicts issue #28, which shows him getting abducted immediately after his fight with Komak.) (I don’t know why I missed that Mikaal is actually in Opal when he fights Komak, but thanks to Omar in the comments for pointing it out. So SFO and issue #28 don’t actually contradict each other.)

Between 1976-1985: The Shade and Dr. Fate fight Culp, who is trying to recreate the ritual that created the Shade. I get this date from the fact that Jay Garrick appears briefly in the story, so it’s after he was re-introduced to the comics, it’s after The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly came out (so it didn’t happen in the 1940s/1950s), and it’s before Crisis on Infinite Earths. Easy-peasy! (ShC 96 4 & 5) As I noted above, this is part of Culp’s plan. (StM 68)

1980-1985: Prince Gavyn is active (StM Ann 1) (In SFO, Robinson uses the “sliding scale” of comic book time – you know, “such-and-such years ago” instead of a hard and fast date – to put Gavyn’s heyday in 1991-1994, but he “dies” during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, so that’s that.)

1981/1982: Batman starts vigilante-ing. (StM 11)

August 1982: Ragdoll goes on a killing spree, and Ted eventually kills him. (StM 9; the full story is in StM 11)

1984: Sylvester Pemberton visits Ted Knight (it’s right after the beginning of Infinity, Inc., which began in 1984). (St & STRIPE 0) Jack is a snotty 17- or 18-year-old.

1985: Mikaal ends up at Bliss’s circus, which, as I noted above, is contradicted by the Shade’s journal. (StM 8)

Before 1986: Charity and John Zatara are lovers. Zatara says it was brief and then they were “friends for much longer” right up until his death. He died in Swamp Thing #50, which shipped in April 1986. (StM 37)

1986: The JSA goes into “limbo.” According to kdu2814 in the comments, this took place after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

July 1990: Will Payton fights David Knight, which took place in issue #26 of Payton’s series, which came out in July. Apparently David was only “Starman” for this fight, then quit until a few years later.

1990: Will Payton fights Aaron and Lupe Bodine. (StM 36) (In SFO, this takes place “four years ago,” meaning 1993 or even 1994, but Robinson at that point is using a sliding time scale, so we’ll just ignore it.)

March 1992: The JSA returns from Limbo. Again, this is thanks to kdu2814 in the comments, who points out it happened in Armageddon: Inferno #2, which came out in March.

August 1992: Will Payton is “killed.” (His series ended in early 1992, so I assume he was killed either in the final issue – #45 – or elsewhere, but I don’t own his series.) [Edit: As Chaim points out in the comments, Payton died in Eclipso: The Darkness Within #2, which came out in August of 1992.]

1992/1993: Culp, as the Shade, meets René in Vienna. René has figured out his secret, so Culp lobotomizes him. (StM 66)

July 1994: Ted Knight is wounded by Extant in Zero Hour #3, which paves the way for David to become Starman. Thanks to kdu2814 for pointing this out in the comments.

The day before the next item: David breaks up with his fiancée, Anne. (StM Ann 2)

Late summer 1994: David Knight is killed after being Starman for about a week. The date comes from the publication date of Starman #0, which was August 1994. That same night, Ted’s observatory is blown up, and Jack’s store is burned down when he’s attacked by Kyle, the son of the Mist. (StM 0)

Overnight after David’s death: The Mist’s crime wave. (StM 1)

The next night: The attack on the Adele Knight wing of the Opal County Museum. (StM 1) Jack escapes and gets his gear, then gets attacked by the Mist’s men. Jon Valor saves his life. Nash lets him go. He makes it to Charity’s shop. The Shade meets with the Mist, then kidnaps Ted from the hospital later. (StM 2)

The next night (or possibly the same one?): Jack fights Kyle and kills him. The Shade leads the cops to the Mist’s hideout. Nash swears revenge for Kyle’s death. (StM 3)

Not too much later: Rachel Foster is taken by the demon in the poster. Jack meets the Shade and agrees to read his journals. That same night, Sands visits Jack for Albert Bekker, who wants Harry Ajax’s Hawaiian shirt. At some point, Bekker gets the shirt and disappears. (StM 4)

January 1995: Jack meets with David in the “afterlife” for the first time. Again, the date comes from the publication date of Starman #5, which shipped in late January. (StM 5)

Spring (?) 1995: Jack visits the circus and meets Mikaal. The issue came out in March 1995, and the fields of Turk County appear to be early in the season, and no one is wearing winter clothes, and it’s after Jack gets the Shade’s journals. So it’s springtime! He also bumps into Sadie at the circus. He gets attacked, escapes, sees Jon Valor again, and returns to the circus to free Bliss’s prisoners. René mentions the “bad dwarf.” (StM 7 & 8)

Some time later: Nash escapes from prison. (StM 9)

“Not long” afterward: In a nifty bit of retconning to cover a mistake, Robinson calls a Wilde novel “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” which he much later explains as Culp coming out at that very instant and not knowing the name of the book. Well done, Mr. Robinson! So this is officially the first time we “meet” Culp. The Shade tells Jack about Damon Merritt and the poster. Jack sees Sadie at Charity’s place. Jade asks Jack to find Solomon Grundy, and he does. (StM 10)

Late spring 1996: The Mist’s crime wave (“Sins of the Child” in StM 12-16). In #12, Robinson writes “soon [spring] will change its name to summer.” So, early June? I’m moving ahead to 1996 because soon after this, the Shade and Matt O’Dare go into Merritt’s poster, then Jack meets David in 1996, then Hope tells Jack about the poster. It’s unlikely she’d wait a year to tell him. Anyway, the day breaks down thusly:

8.44 a.m.: Ted leaves for the courthouse. (15)
9.23 a.m.: Grundy asks Mikaal to go outside. (15)
9.59-10.19 a.m.: Jack gets cleared of murder in Kyle’s death and chats with his dad. (12, 13)
10.23 a.m.: Barry O’Dare leaves for work. (14)
10.27 a.m.: Ted tells Jack his favorite artist is Jackson Pollock. Because Ted has no artistic taste. (13)
10.45 a.m.: Grundy and Mikaal are still hanging out near Ted’s observatory. (12)
11.08 a.m.: Jack and Ted arrive at the observatory. (15)
11.09 a.m.: Cardiff Mayhugh is murdered. (12)
11.25 a.m.: Grundy talks, Mikaal listens. (13)
11.26 a.m.: Sam Doonie is murdered. (13)
11.32 a.m.: Grundy and Mikaal are abducted by Frankie Soul and his men. (15)
11.34 a.m.: Ted notices that Grundy and Mikaal are gone. (12, 13)
12.02 p.m.: Clarence O’Dare’s coffee is interrupted by two robberies. (14)
12.10 p.m.: Jack leaves to find Grundy and Mikaal. (12, 13)
12.44 p.m.: Bill Delany is murdered. (12)
1.27 p.m.: Clarence fights bad guys in an art museum. (14)
1.58 p.m.: Jack is kidnapped. (12)
2.15 p.m.: Clarence goes after crooks in a high-speed chase. (14)
3.11 p.m.: Clarence stops a restaurant robbery. (14)
3.15-3.23 p.m.: Tony Florence saves Mrs. Lowe’s cat from a fire. (14)
3.39 p.m.: Red Bailey and Lucy Collins are murdered. (14)
4.17 p.m.: Wilson May is murdered. (15)
4.57 p.m.: Ted starts searching for Jack. (13)
6.45 p.m.: Clarence thwarts another robbery, but he’s already missed his hockey game. (14)
8.17 p.m.: Clarence stops another robbery. (14)
8.36 p.m.: Mason O’Dare is wounded stopping a hostage situation. (14)
8.49 p.m.: Ted talks to Barry O’Dare, but it’s cut short when he finds out that Mason was wounded. (13)
9.11 p.m.: Barry leaves the hospital, and it appears Robinson already foreshadows his betrayal much later in the series. (14)
9.24 p.m.: Matt O’Dare sees a vision of Brian Savage and decides to go straight in the middle of a drug deal that he set up. (14)
9.41 p.m.: Ted gets attacked by Dr. Phosphorus. (13)
9.42 p.m.: Jack wakes up, a prisoner of Nash, and is told he has to run a gauntlet. During this time, of course, Nash raped him and conceived her child. (12)
9.50 p.m.: Mikaal causes the Chandler Building to explode. Barry O’Dare happens to be there and he helps get the people out. (13, 14, 15)
10.02 p.m.: Jack discovers Nash’s killing spree and thinks his father is dead. (12)
10.03 p.m.: Jack fights Nash’s men. (16)
10.48 p.m.: Hope O’Dare fights bad guys and gets rescued by the Shade. (14)
Later that night, Jon Valor rescues a girl from being abducted. (StM 17)

Around this time, possibly missing this day until he returns at night to rescue Hope, the Shade visits Central City to track Merritt and the poster. While there, Neron tempts him, but the Shade turns him down, which pisses Neron off. (ShC 95 12)

“Days have passed”: Jack hooks up with Lucy, who tells him that it’s not going to happen again. Ted talks to Grundy about how Grundy killed Sylvester Pemberton (Skyman). Mikaal can talk. Charity tells Jack she’s going to fall in love with someone. The Shade enlists the O’Dares to help him find Merritt, and when they do, he and Matt go into the poster. Jack bumps into Sadie again. Sam Woo (in issue #24 he’s called “Wu”) makes Clarence O’Dare “superhero liaison” in the OCPD. (StM 17)

At some point after this, Jack begins dating Sadie. She mentions that after they meet for the third time, they go out. By August 1997, they’re dating, so sometime between the summer of 1996 and the late summer of 1997, they’re a couple. The entire annual in which we track their dating life takes place over a year, so it’s more than likely 1996/1997, as the annual came out in September 1997. During the “winter” part of the annual, Sadie reveals she’s Will Payton’s sister and that she wants him to find Will, because she’s sure he’s alive. (StM Ann 2)

June 1996: Jack meets David on the high seas and fights as a pirate, and then meets his mother. Issue #19 came out in June, and it’s titled “Talking With David ’96,” which is why I moved the timeline ahead from 1995 to 1996. (StM 19)

Summer 1996: Jack visits Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont in New York, fights bad guys, and finds the Mist’s Victorian [sic] Cross. (StM 20-23)

Not long after that: Jack goes to see the Mist and gives him the medal back. Hope tells Jack about Matt and the Shade going into the poster. Jack mentions that Shade got the name of Wilde’s book wrong. The O’Dares go looking for Merritt. (StM 24) Merritt comes to the poster and Jack falls into it. (StM 25) Jack, Matt, and the Shade get back out of the poster, bringing all the other souls from over the years back to Opal with them. (StM 26)

October 1996: Jack is at Hal Jordan’s funeral. This occurred in Green Lantern #81, so it’s outside of the scope of this timeline, but Chaim mentioned it in the comments, so I thought I’d drop it in.

Christmas 1996: The O’Dares have Christmas dinner with Jack, Ted, and Charity, and Jack meets “Santa” and helps him get his locket back. (StM 27)

April 1997: Jake Benetti gets out of jail. Jack gets a letter from Nash telling him that she’s given birth to their son, Kyle Theo. (StM 29)

Sometime in 1997: The Shade meets Craig and Blair Ludlow and Craig’s brother Gary. He kills Gary but lets Craig, Blair, and their son live. (Sh 4)

August 1997: Jack is dating Sadie. She tells him that when they first met, she had been dumped by her boyfriend even though they were planning on getting married. She’s either lying or Robinson forgot that when he decided to make her Will Payton’s brother. (Unfortunately, the timeline doesn’t make sense here. It’s clearly in the present because this conversation happens after Mr. Pip’s first bomb, but in Annual #2, Sadie tells Jack about Will and her true identity in the winter, which is clearly the winter of 1996/1997. Also, Sadie says they’ve only been on a few dates, but the annual shows the course of their relationship over the previous year. None of this takes place in the past, because Jack gets the phone call about Dian’s letter during their conversation, which leads to his meeting with Dudley, which is all about Mr. Pip. So it seems like this is a mistake by Robinson, but that’s okay – it’s not like he knew some obsessive comic book fan would construct a time line 18 [Now 25!] years later or anything.) Dian Belmont sends Jack a letter telling him that she and Wesley Dodds are going on a final adventure. The Infernal Mr. Pip destroys some department stores. Jack meets Dudley Donovan, who becomes his stoolie. Jon Valor saves Jack’s life and asks for a favor in return. (StM 30) Copperhead shows up to help Mr. Pip with his scheme. (StM 31) The OCPD finds Grundy in the sewers. Copperhead captures Jack and delivers him to Mr. Pip. Jack escapes, but so does Mr. Pip, and Grundy is seriously injured saving people from one of Pip’s bombs. (StM 32) Alan Scott, Batman, and Jason Woodrue arrive to enter Grundy’s consciousness and see if they can revive him. They meet “bad” Grundy, among many others. (StM 33) While inside Grundy’s head, they meet Cyrus Gold. Ted Knight enters Grundy’s consciousness and helps them defeat Gold. The “good” Grundy dies. (StM 34) Hope O’Dare discovers that her brother Matt is dirty. Mr. Pip turns up at the Chandler Building, strapped to a bomb. He was seriously injured in the previous attack, so he knows he’s going to die, but he wants to take a bunch of people with him. The heroes lose their powers due to DC’s “Genesis” event and can’t stop him. The Shade sucks him into his shadows to stop him from blowing up. (StM 35)

October 1997: Jack meets David and has dinner with the JSA. (StM 37)

Late 1997: The Mist kills the Justice League. Kyle is a baby, but he’s probably older than six months but not a year old yet (he’s able to sit up, for instance). The issue came out in November 1997, and it’s probably taking place about that time. (StM 38)

Winter 1997/1998: Someone frames Jim Barr for the sinking of the Normandie, and Jack teams up with Captain Marvel to clear him. (StM 39-40, PoSH 35-36)

About the same time: Dr. Phosphorus escapes from prison. The Shade and Matt O’Dare are cleaning up his past. (StM 41)

Spring 1998 (?): Jack gets caught up in the mystery of the African statue. The 80-Page Giant was published in November 1998, but by that time, Jack was in outer space, so that excludes that date. Leaves are on the trees, and at one point, Jack is wearing short sleeves, but the bad guy has a fire going in his fancy house, so the night can’t be that warm. Although, as I’ve noted, winter seems to exist very randomly in Opal City, so who knows. I think the spring of ’98 is probably the best time to set this. (80-Page 1)

Spring 1998: Jack opens his new shop. Later he visits the Justice League, but he can’t borrow a spaceship from them. The Shade, however, gets him one. (StM 43) Around this time, Black Hand kidnaps the Mist’s son, and after she gets him back, she decides to head to Opal. (Mist 1) A bit later that spring, Jack and Mikaal take off into space. (StM 45)

At some point before Jack goes into space, he teams up with Hellboy. (Bat/Hell/StM 2) It’s definitely after the events inside Grundy’s head, because Batman is somewhat civil to Jack. The two issues came out late in 1998, but they obviously occur before spring 1998.

Also before he goes into space, Jack teams up with Courtney Whitmore and Pat Dugan. (St & STRIPE 0) This issue came out in May 1999, but it’s before Opal goes to hell, so it’s probably taking place in the spring of 1998.

Summer 1998: Various characters protect Opal City. Jon Valor visits Sadie and asks for Jack’s help. Dudley Donovan is killed by an arrow. Commissioner Woo is killed by shadow creatures that look like the Shade’s. (StM 47) Farris Knight visits Ted and reveals that he’s a bad guy. (StM 1,000,000)

Obviously, when Jack goes into space, time slows down in the book considerably, as Robinson switches back and forth between Jack’s adventures and what’s happening in Opal. So they go to Swamp Thing’s blue planet (StM 48-49), and issue #49 is a “Talking with David” issue for 1999. Have several months passed already? Well, issue #49 came out in November 1998 (it’s cover dated January 1999), so Robinson is obviously sticking to some semblance of “real time” passing. So let’s say it’s already autumn 1998 when Jack and Mikaal reach the blue planet. By the time they get back to the present, it’s issue #52 and they arrive on Rann. They finish up on Rann in #53, which shipped in March 1999. I assume we’re supposed to believe that’s about when it “really” is, as they could have returned from Krypton (see issue #51) several months after they left this present.

Spring 1999: Black Condor, Dr. Phosphorus, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Jon Valor, and Phantom Lady all end up in Opal. Jack’s spaceship gets blown up when they approach Throneworld. Jack and Mikaal end up as a prisoner of Jediah Rikane. They lead a rebellion and find Will Payton, who turns back into Prince Gavyn. They take the fight to Jediah but fail at the last moment. But it all works out in the end. (StM 56-60)

“Grand Guignol” seems to take place in the summer of 1999. In issue #61, we see that the trees are full with green leaves, and that’s only weeks before Jack returns. These issues (#61-73) came out over the course of a year, naturally, with issue #73 coming out in November 2000. But they only encompass a short period of time (except for flashbacks, of course), and so I’m sticking with the summer of 1999.

The timeline is a bit screwed up at the end of “Grand Guignol,” as issue #75 came out in January 2001, but it’s the autumn of 1999. Even that is problematic, as Jack’s kid, who ought to be over 2, still seems to be a baby (he’s still eating baby food, for example, and he should have teeth). So that’s weird. It shouldn’t have been that hard to make him a toddler, could it? Anyway, Jack chats with Superman in issue #75.

Still autumn 1999: Jack leaves Opal for San Francisco to be with Sadie. His son is sitting up by himself, but he still doesn’t look 2½ or so. Oh well. The final issue came out in June 2001, but it’s still pretty clear, based on the rest of the timeline, that it’s still 1999. (StM 80)

June 2004: Jack is at Sue Dibny’s funeral. Like Hal Jordan’s above, this is outside the scope of this timeline, but again, Chaim mentioned it in the comments, so I figured I throw it in. This is from the publication date of Identity Crisis #1.

2021: Mikaal returns to Talok VIII and becomes their champion (StM 50)

2152 (?): Jack and Mikaal end up fighting Jarko; Ultra the Multi-Alien and Space Ranger get Prince Gavyn’s staff. (StM 55)

2998: Jack and Mikaal meet Star Boy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. (StM 50)

Phew! That was fun, wasn’t it? As I noted, I really dig when writers try to give their comics discernible timelines, and as Starman is clearly concerned with DC’s history, it’s fun to see Robinson fit it all together. I hope you enjoyed this!

[Will I get to do another of these? Only time will tell!]


  1. Great job.
    Balloon Buster was with the Army Air Corps in Europe so it must be after the US entered the war. I only know him from his Enemy Ace crossover but it’s an entertaining meeting — he’s (so to speak) a bare-knuckles fighter who spits on Von Hammer’s ideals of ruthless-but-honorable combat.
    While it’s irrelevant to the timeline I really loved Roy Thomas’s take on Starman as a real idle playboy who stumbled into superheroics and can just barely cut it (on the grounds that unlike Batman, most of the other Idle Playboys hadn’t been prepping since childhood to live a double life). But obviously that version of Ted got upgraded post-Crisis.

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    The Teddy Roosevelt & Panama thing is likely a combination of a mix-up by Robinson (or the editors or letterer) and part accurate, if he means what I think he does. Starman #68 says Ben Luddy opened his law office in 1908, after recovering from his injuries, fighting beside Teddy Roosevelt in Panama. In 1903, the US government signed the Hay-Herran Treaty, granting the US a lease on the Panamal Canal Zone. it was not ratified by the Colombian Senate (Panama was controlled by Colombia, then). A revolt against the Colombian government broke out, in Panama, which the Roosevelt government backed. The rebels made assurances to the government and were given the support of US warships and troops, blocking Colombia from sending in troops. The US government then recognized the new Panamanian government and they signed a treaty for the Canal Zone. However, Roosevelt was President of the United States and did not lead troops in battle. He did that in 1898, in Cuba, during the Spanish-American War.

    I believe Robinson meant the Panamanian revolution and that Luddy served with US troops in Panama, in support of the revolution; but, got a bit mixed up with San Juan Hill, during the Cuban insurrection against the Spanish government. In that case, he would be fighting *for* Teddy Roosevelt, not alongside him. Teddy was commander-in-chief, not his commanding officer. However, Luddy could have fought in Cuba, at 17, and then Panama, 8 years later.

    It’s easy to see how Robinson could be confused, especially since it is US history and not British. Also, the Spanish-American War and the Roosevelt presidency gets pretty watered down in US textbooks, with the sum total being the explosion on the USS Maine, the outbreak of war, San Juan Hill and the defeat of the Spanish in the naval Battle of Manilla (“You may fire when ready, Gridley.”) and the US gaining Guam and the Philippines and Cuba gaining independence. Roosevelt mostly gets mentioned as securing the Canal for the US, but not much detail, the “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” business, and gunboat diplomacy and the White Fleet. So, the editors probably didn’t know squat about the period and missed the error, as did most readers.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Robinson may have gotten confused, but that’s an odd thing to mix up. Very few people know about the U.S. government’s involvement in Panama in the early 1900s, but if people know anything about Roosevelt, they know about San Juan Hill and that it’s in Cuba. So it’s strange that it’s mixed up in the book. I imagine it’s just a small screw-up, not unlike the Dorian Gray thing, but it came so late in the run that nobody wrote in telling Robinson he made a mistake, like I’m certain several people did about the Wilde book.

  3. Jeff Nettleton

    Balloon Buster was a pretty obscure war comic character. He was introduced in 1965, in All-American Men of War #112 and had 4 appearances in that series. he turns up later, in Star Spangled War, where he fights Von Hammer, because Robert Kanigher (or Frank Robbins, as he wrote the first 2 of 3 parts) finally realized that DC had an American pilot they could sic on Enemy Ace and had them meet (with Frank Thorne art). He only had a few appearances after that, in Unknown Soldier.

    He was Army Air Corps and is there when the US enters the war, in 1917. He was as close as the DC war comics got to an Eddie Rickenbacker. The story where he meets Von Hammer was titled “Hell’s Angels,” after the Howard Hughes film.

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