golden age dc comics

[image: drawing of golden age Wonder Woman and Etta Candy getting a bit affectionate up close and personal, as a cape Wonder Woman is wearing blows up dramatically.]

Technically Golden Age Wonder Woman didn’t have a cape but what’s the point of  being a superhero going in to kiss your girlfriend if you can’t do it in a way that looks cool.

If I had to think of the superhero most likely to totally transform the entire world, it’d be the Golden Age Starman. He invented a cosmic control rod that allows for antigravity, forcefields, and moving objects at a distance, all of which are powered by an endless, totally renewable power source (starlight). Basically, he invented the Mass Effect in 1942, combined with free energy! Ted Knight made a discovery that could change the world in a way that would make the Industrial Revolution look quaint.

“But superheroes often have advanced technology, and they don’t change the world!” Actually, there are usually lots of good reasons for why superhero tech doesn’t change the world…none of which apply to Starman. Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits are hundreds of millions of dollars each and with their price tag, they couldn’t be mass produced even if Tony Stark didn’t guard the technology so jealously. Starman was wealthy enough to dedicate himself to science, but there is no talk of the Control Rod having a high per-unit cost.

And while Superman has access to Kryptonian superscience a thousand years or more ahead of earth, he’s an alien and he has vowed not to interfere with human development. Starman, by contrast, is as earthly and human as they come, and he has no access to advanced technology. He didn’t find the Rod in a crashed UFO next to a dead alien, it isn’t a one-of-a-kind….he made it himself and can make many more.

And what’s more, the cosmic control rod has almost entirely peaceful applications: in the form it currently exists, its heat beams are far more effective than handguns or even artillery, but it can’t kill millions like an atomic bomb.

The best explanation I can possibly think of for why Starman’s rod doesn’t change the world is that Ted Knight’s invention is so incredibly ahead of its time that people don’t even understand what he did, even if it was explained to them. There’s some support for this idea; when Ted Knight was transported to the 30th Century, Star Boy tells Starman that though he was not understood in his own time, by the 30th Century, he’s considered on a par with Newton and Einstein.

There is, however, a chilling possibility. If Ted Knight could discover the principles of the Control Rod…someone else could, too.