THE STAR-SPANGLED KID AND STRIPESYMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: Jerry Siegel (writer) and Hal Sherman (artist)
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joined DC's Batman, an awful lot of those superheroes had kid sidekicks. With its first issue (October, 1941), DC's Star Spangled Comics featured another first for DC — the first adolescent superhero with an adult sidekick. It wasn't a very notable first, but still a first.
The story actually opened in the previous month's Action Comics #40, in which young, wealthy Sylvester Pemberton went to the movies. Also in the audience were mechanic Pat Dugan, a big, beefy guy as opposed to Sylvester's much leaner build, and several Nazi agents. The Nazis responded violently to the film's patriotic theme; and Pat and Sylvester were instrumental in quelling the resulting riot.
Next day (story time — next month in the real world), as the cover feature of Star Spangled #1, Sylvester was getting his car fixed at Pat's garage, and naturally, the incident came up in conversation. Another customer wished out loud that the American flag could come to life and thrash such scum. This gave the two protagonists the idea of following in the footsteps of MLJ Comics' Shield, Marvel's Captain America and DC's own Mr. America, and wearing flag-based outfits to fight the war on a freelance basis. They did so separately, Sylvester as the stars and Pat as the stripes, until they happened to work on the same case. After that they became partners, and Pat went to work as the Pemberton family chauffeur.
Exactly how the Kid came to be the "senior" partner is unclear, unless it had to do with Pat's inferior social rank. He certainly wasn't anybody's inferior in brains, as he designed and built their souped-up superhero vehicle, The Star Rocket Racer.
Jerry Siegel (co-creator of The Spectre, to say nothing of Superman himself) wrote the story. It was illustrated by Hal Sherman, not to be confused with Howard Sherman, who drew the opening shots of Doctor Fate, The Wyoming Kid, Space Cabby and several other DC characters — this Mr. Sherman's other DC work consisted mostly of humorous fillers such as Little Billy Pelican and Oscar Scatterbrain. Siegel and Sherman continued to handle the series in Star Spangled Comics.
The pair almost immediately got into DC's second superhero team, The Seven Soldiers of Victory — Leading Comics #1, where they first got together with Vigilante, The Crimson Avenger, The Shining Knight and Green Arrow & Speedy, was dated Winter, 1941-42.
Despite this relatively prestigious connection (it wasn't The Justice Society of America, but it was better than Johnny Quick, Zatara the Magician or Robotman ever got), it took only six months for them to lose their cover spot in Star Spangled Comics. With the seventh issue (April, 1942), The Newsboy Legion permanently supplanted them. They continued in the back pages, tho, for several years. In #81 (June, 1948), Sylvester's adopted sister, Merry, started putting on a costume of her own, and fought crime under the name "Merry, the Girl of a Thousand Gimmicks". Four issues later, she was sharing the logo with the former stars, and two issues after that she'd ousted them completely. The series ground to a halt a couple of issues after that.
The Kid and Stripesy were next seen in 1972, when The Justice League of America, in one of its annual crossovers with the Justice Society, rescued the Seven Soldiers from a predicament they'd fallen into offstage, back in the '40s. Because it involved time travel, most of them had scarcely aged since it happened. Later, the Kid acquired Starman's Cosmic Rod and hooked up with the JSA, while Stripesy retired from superheroing. Still later, he bankrolled Infinity Inc.; and during the course of that series changed his superhero name (having become a bit long in the tooth, even with time travel, to be called "Kid") to "Skyman" (borrowed from a defunct Columbia Comics character). Later yet, DC killed him off.
More recently, Pat's stepdaughter, Courtney Whitmore, took to adventuring under the "Star-Spangled Kid" monicker, while Pat himself, using a wearable robot (cf. Bozo the Robot) called S.T.R.I.P.E., mentored her superhero career. More recently yet, she came into possession of a later Starman's Cosmic Rod and started calling herself Stargirl. This leaves the way clear for yet another Star-Spangled Kid, because at DC, old trademarks never die.