|“||It's called the Cosmic Staff, okay? It's extremely... temperamental. The staff's not supposed to work for anyone but Starman.||”|
— Pat Dugan about the staff
The Cosmic Staff is a six-foot-long anti-gravity rod previously used by superhero and JSA member, Starman. It has since been passed down to his legacy, the superheroine known as Stargirl. It is most known for its sentient, or life-like, qualities that make it appear alive. The Cosmic Staff was created by Ted Knight.
Ted Knight created the staff at an unknown time. After receiving the Cosmic Staff, Sylvester Pemberton retired his teenage alias of the Star-Spangled Kid and reinvented his alter-ego as Starman. He became trained and fully-equipped with the Staff, as it had deemed him honorable and courageous enough to allow him to wield it. Unfortunately, their bond would be broken Christmas Eve 2010 after he succumbed to Icicle's fatal attack, entrusting his sidekick and best friend Pat Dugan with its care until the Staff would someday choose their successor to lead a new generation of fearlessness, hope, and heroism. In the meantime, however, Pat stored it away in a trunk, where it would remain a decade later.
But one day would come in the present where Pat's new stepdaughter Courtney Whitmore, having discovered her stepfather's secret double life as a past sidekick, would uncover the Staff as it glowed excitedly in her presence. Noting as it glowed whenever her hands came near it, the Staff had officially chosen its new handler. It soon began to show its anti-gravity aeronautics paired perfectly with the girl's gymnastics. With a mentality of its own to help Courtney train in the wake of a rise of new villain hood, the Staff becomes not just a weapon, but a mentor of its own to a girl destined to continue a legacy. Because of the rarity that is the staff choosing an owner, Courtney believed that Starman, Sylvester Pemberton, was her birth father and that was why the staff chose her; to help her get justice for the JSA members who were slain ten years ago - including her father.
With the staff, Courtney defeated Brainwave and went toe-to-toe with Icicle. Icicle was the first person to paralyze the staff with his cryokinetic ability. Stargirl then recruited three new members to the modern-day Justice Society of America to help fight the ISA. She had become one with the staff and friends with it, often treating it as a pet in the way she spoke to it and handled it. It showed an affinity for its crate. But when Courtney refused to go out with the staff for the first time, it attempted to go on its own and attacked Icicle and Brainwave. It was easily overpowered and outsmarted, which led to it being kidnapped by Icicle. Stargirl and the JSA led a mission to rescue the staff and Henry's father, though they were only successful in retrieving the staff.
|“||It chose you because it believed in you. It’s just waiting for you to believe in yourself again, that’s all. Heroes can come from anywhere.||”|
When the young heroine learns that Starman wasn’t her father, she falls into a state of crisis that forces her to question her identity. She no longer feels worthy of being Stargirl or wielding the staff. Her belief in herself dwindles and thus, so does the Cosmic Staff. She struggles to regain her belief and gives up on her team and Blue Valley. But when an old foe threatens to attack, Courtney knows she must regain the Staff’s trust. Pat lends wise words by telling her that the staff never worked for her because she was Starman’s daughter, it worked for her because it believed in her. In her grace and heroism. The staff worked because heroes can come from anywhere.
With the support of her only parental figures behind her, Courtney placed her hands on the staff and believed in herself once more. The staff glows and accepted Courtney as she accepted it, and they glow in perfect harmony. While the blinding light forced her parent’s eyes away, Courtney’s relish in the light and beauty of the staff. The lights all around them explode as a soft wind blows through the room. Courtney stands and admires the staff, now ready to be Stargirl once again.
Powers and Abilities
|“||Are you alive?||”|
The Cosmic Staff is a powerful weapon and device that absorbs stellar energy and uses it to create a wide range of abilities that its wielders use to fight crime. Notably, its anti-gravity abilities pair with the user to perform gymnastic feats. Its use of cosmic light beams serves as projectile attacks.
The Staff is perhaps more remarkable for its sentient personality and an intelligent consciousness demonstrated through its communication method of warbled noises and airborne gestures to the handler. It can also attack by its own self accord but with the handler's direction. The Staff also has a sense of built-in direction and can sense those it deems are bad, even from a great distance. It can also move and travel on its own even to the point of waking Courtney up so they could practice. When Yolanda was introduced to the staff, she could barely look at too long due to its brightness, while the light didn't seem to bother Courtney. The staff can dim or brighten its appearance on command.
- Selection: The staff chooses a new wielder when the former dies or fails to believe in themselves. Pat Dugan believes the staff chose Stargirl because she displays qualities such as leadership, heroism, and a penchant for justice. The only two people known to wield the staff are Starman and Stargirl. The Staff lit up in the presence of Stargirl and drew her nearer. When the Staff is in the hands of those it doesn't deem worthy, it lies dormant and stayed that way for ten years after Starman's believed death.
- Anti-Gravity: The otherworldly engineering that went into the Staff's design granted it an advanced form of aeronautics, somehow disobeying the laws of gravity and physics. It can stand upright on its own and float several inches above the ground, as well as travel great distances on its own and avoid obstructions in its path.
- Sensing: The staff seems able to respond on command, mental or otherwise, from its designated wielder.
- Stellarkinesis: The staff can create and manipulate stellar energy generated to use against its opponents. It used this power by itself for the first time in "" when it attacked Icicle and Brainwave.
- Electrokinesis: When Courtney got her connection to the staff back in "Shining Knight," the energy from the staff popped the light bulbs in the Whitmore-Dugan basement.
When someone bonds with the Staff, they become one for all intents and purposes. For example, the Staff protects Courtney from falling onto the ground by using its anti-gravity properties to keep her upright. It also saved her from falling to her death after being attacked by Brainwave. It can predict her movements and she can always trust it to be there when she needs it. While she's performing gymnastic feats it protects her from attacks such as when it blocked tires that Brainwave threw, or when it blocked Sportsmasters bat from impacting Courtney.
- Cryokinesis: Extreme cold has a serious effect on the staff, as seen when Icicle incapacitated it with an ice blast. His ice froze the staff and rendered it incapable of using any of its powers. It also didn't glow when Stargirl held it, leaving her vulnerable. When the staff went out on its own with Stargirl, Icicle was able to easily freeze the staff via touch and then lock it in a metal box so it couldn't escape.
- Explosive Device: An explosive device wielded by Sportsmaster can deactivate the staff. The device attached itself to the staff, almost like a magnet. Once the staff was several feet in the air, the device triggered an explosive which rendered the staff unusable. It landed in Stargirl's hands but didn't glow for a few seconds. However, it warbled back to life and was able to be used once again. With the staff deactivated, Stargirl was left vulnerable to an attack which allowed her foes to gain a temporary advantage.
- Disbelief: When Courtney no longer believed in herself or her mission as Stargirl, the staff stopped working for her. This is due to the staff choosing its wielder based on the amount of belief it shares with the user. Courtney thought the staff didn't want her now that she knew she isn't Starman's daughter, but Pat reminded her that the staff also knew she wasn't a Pemberton. It wanted her because of her heroic nature and is waiting for Courtney to believe in herself again. When Courtney did believe in her destiny once more, she was able to activate the staff once more.
|“||I know in the past we've had our differences and haven't always seen eye-to-eye on everything. At times, you know, it seemed... Well, you didn't even really respect me all that much, and as long as I'm speaking honestly, I felt that you were pretty impulsive and reckless. I know you want justice for Sylvester, and I do too... But Courtney could have died today. And I'm asking you to protect her. If it gets to be too much... Take her away from the danger instead of towards it. Can you hear me?||”|
The staff, despite being a seemingly inanimate object, has a sentient personality that is beyond anything known to the world. It has an intelligent consciousness demonstrated through its communication method of warbled noises and airborne gestures to the handler. Its intelligence often comes through as stubbornness or an unwilling desire to obey Courtney. It took initiative and knocked Wildcat to the ground so that they could both avoid being seen by Henry. It later stopped Stargirl from turning off the power in the medical center as it somehow knew that people were on ventilators and other life-supporting equipment, and so would be harmed if she succeeded. It prevented her by refusing to move which yanked her backward, as Courtney still held and carried the staff in her hand, and stopped her from progressing.
The staff is also considerate, as it dimmed the brightness of its energy when Yolanda claimed it was hurting her eyes. The staff can get excited and the tip brightens when it is. It jumps up and down and wiggles about when it is excited or enjoying a moment. Its positive demeanor seems to be reflected in its handlers, as both were humorous and light-hearted.
When Courtney was gravely injured in her battle against Shiv, the staff flew away to find Pat. It then led him back to Courtney, where it continued to nudge Courtney and warble nervously. This showed that the staff cares for its wielder and wants to protect her, but is also able to navigate covertly as it wasn't spotted while getting Pat's attention. It does value protecting its handler, as it agreed to take Courtney away from danger instead of towards it, per Pat's request.
Notes and Trivia
- Upon coming into contact with Brainwave's head, the Staff caused his mind to short circuit and he lost control over his powers. This created a cosmic force field around him and Courtney before it exploded and he fell to the ground. The combination resulted in him becoming comatose.
- Pat Dugan once asked the staff to take Courtney away from danger instead of towards it if she were in danger. The staff obeyed his wishes temporarily, but ultimately gave in to Courtney's desire to help save the JSA.
- The staff can go out without its handler; however, it is notably less powerful and intellectual in its attacks. It was easily apprehended by Icicle and Brainwave.
- The light the staff emits is blinding to everyone around it except its handler. This is evident three times; when the staff emits light to force school students from since S.T.R.I.P.E., once with Yolanda Montez in the basement, and once with Pat Dugan and Barbara Whitmore.
- In the comics, the cosmic staff was built by Ted Knight, the first Starman (based on his own "Gravity Rod"), and wielded by his son Jack before being given to Courtney.
- The staff doesn't have the same sentient personality or energy that 's staff has. This trait is exclusive to the television series.