This article contains Stargirl spoilers.
Think that you’ve got a handle on Stargirl and its ever growing roster of heroes and villains? Well, get ready to take a trip back in time to get familiar with a mysterious figure who has connections to Arthurian England. Oh, and he just so happens to be the janitor you might have seen skulking around Blue Valley High. It’s time to get to know Stargirl‘s Shining Knight!
Each week Stargirl has introduced new foes and friends for Courtney Whitmore and Pat Dugan, but in “Brainwave” they introduce a whole new team and it’s one that is sure to excite old school comic book readers. Though you might not have heard of them, the Seven Soldiers of Victory blazed a trail as one of DC Comics’ oldest teams, debuting in 1941’s Leading Comics #1. An interesting mix of pulp-era human heroes like the Vigilante and the Crimson Avenger alongside human do-gooders DC would become famous for like Green Arrow, Speedy, and, of course, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, the Seven Soldiers of Victory only featured one character with actual powers: the Arthurian hero known as Sir Justin A.K.A. The Shining Knight.
In the late ’30s, New Comics was a popular humor comic that delighted readers all over North America. But two creators by the name of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster changed all of that when they introduced a far-flung future detective known as Jor-L. The sci-fi story that featured the man who would become Superman’s father shifted the focus of the stories with creators moving closer to the genre-realm and crafting powerful heroes. That issue also happened to herald a name change to New Adventure Comics, a moniker which would soon become simply Adventure Comics. Shining Knight made his first appearance in the 66th issue of the Golden Age series in a self-titled story that from the very first page threw readers back in time for a medieval adventure… or so it seemed.
What lucky DC fans had actually plucked off of their local newsstand was something entirely different. In a classic bit of in media res storytelling, we meet Shining Knight when he’s stopping some modern (in 1941) criminals who look like your usual, run-of-the-mill mobsters. Readers were then transported back to discover the truth behind the mysterious armored hero.
Although “Justin” might not have necessarily seemed like a name you’d hear ringing through the court of Camelot, according to the story from Creig Flessel the young hero was a member of Arthur’s Roundtable who pledged his sword to none other than Lancelot himself. In an unbelievable turn of events for both the reader and Justin, while on the pursuit of two bandits the Knight stabs a tree, revealing it to be the wizard Merlin who Justin has unintentionally freed with his blade.
It’s a vital part of the character’s lore, as Merlin rewards Justin with his light and nifty gold and red armor, which would become synonymous with early versions of the character. He also received a magical sword that could cut through anything and his horse was gifted with the power of flight and super strength!
As if he hadn’t had enough adventure for one day, Shining Knight fights a giant and then gets stuck in a glacier for hundreds of years. Remember, this is 1941 so it predates the Silver Age retcon of another famous hero who found himself stuck somewhere very cold before thawing out and becoming an iconic champion. In Shining Knight’s case, though, he gets a bit more of a rude awakening as he’s brought back to life by a museum curator with a surprising personal collection of dynamite. Sir Justin really does have one of the strangest and funniest backstories in comics, and although we’ve yet to see it fully delved into on screen, Stargirl has hinted that its Shining Knight is a hero of the magical type.
Once again, Stargirl and creator/executive producer Geoff Johns seem to be taking heavily from his own Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. series that introduced the heroine and inspired the hit CW show. During that series which we’ve been talking about a lot in these villainous deep dives, Shining Knight appeared as the Blue Valley High janitor who it was revealed had previously been hunting for Dragon King when he was struck down with amnesia after being transported back through time.
While some eagle-eyed viewers first thought that the red-haired janitor who spoke in riddles might be the original Fiddler, it was revealed that he was actually not a villain but instead an ally to Stargirl during her fight with Cindy Burman in “Shiv Part One.” Not only did he help save Courtney with his magical sword, but he also had a vision during “Brainwave” which saw his mop transform into the Cosmic Staff, seeming to imply that Justin might be getting his memories back. There was also, of course, the moment that he whispered to Beth that “there are dragons in the water.”
That arc, as well Pat introducing the Seven Soldiers of Victory, could hint at where the season is going. As fans have been watching Courtney reimagine the Justice Society of America and Dragon King has been working with the Injustice Society on Project New America, we might’ve been missing another superteam hiding in the shadows all along. In Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., Justin regains his memory and teams up with the Seven Soldiers of Victory to take down Dragon King. Though the only members around at the moment seem to be Stripesy and Shining Knight, there’s always a chance that we could get a few more members popping up as Justin continues to regain his memory and the Injustice Society rises again.
If you’re desperate to know more about Shining Knight then the next episode of Stargirl, which is named after the Golden Age hero, will likely shine a light on this world’s iteration of the medieval hero and his esoteric past!