The Old Man is 7'6" tall. He usually appears as an old human. When he was extremely damaged, he appears as a tall, somewhat reptilian-looking alien with green or grey skin. This is the standard regeneration form for wielders of the Star Brand.
The Old Man first appears to Ken Connell as Connell is dirt biking on a mountain near Pittsburgh. He tells Ken that he was just in a fight with some unnamed enemies and is on his last legs. He hypnotizes Connell. When Ken wakes up, the Old Man is gone, but Ken remembers some more of what he told him--that the Old Man has been looking for someone like Ken for a long time. He transfers a special tattoo to Ken: the Star Brand, a "weapon" of great power. Ken finds the Old Man's body, except he's now dead, and looks like an alien. Ken buries him and leaves.
The Old Man, however, isn't dead or an alien. He is a Dutch nobleman from 500 years ago. One day he suddenly gains the Star Brand's powers. He has the Brand for centuries, growing taller all the time, but eventually he tires of it, and wants to get rid of it by passing it off onto an asteroid. However, it can only be given to a living being, and instead his action results in a powerful explosion called the White Event. This is the primary event in the New Universe, and gives two out of every million people paranormal powers. Now his memory is nearly gone, but he is here to pass it on to Ken and make sure he has "the right stuff."
Soon after being buried, he appears as a slightly different alien in battle armor, demanding the return of the Brand. He says the Old Man (really himself) was lying, and is evil, and he (the alien) needs the Brand to fight him. Ken refuses to give it up and fights back, seemingly incinerating him.
Later, Ken is with one of his girlfriends, Barb, when he thinks he sees something outside. He goes upstairs to find Barb's daughter Laurie with one of the alien's guns. Apparently the Old Man hypnotized her, and she was going to shoot Ken with it until he took the gun away. This was only the first of the Old Man's many interventions into Ken's private life. Laurie continued to have difficult psychological aftereffects from her hypnotism for months afterwards.
Ken realizes the alien is still alive and goes off to fight it. He wins and sends the alien back off into space.
The Old Man doesn't show up for a while. When he does, he wants the Brand back, saying he needs it for a battle against oppression on the other side of the universe. He hypnotizes and hurts Ken's other girlfriend Duck and Ken battles him in distant outer space, once again seemingly beating him. However, he soon leaves messages written around the houses of Ken and his family, saying things like, "The Brand or people die!" His psychological war on Ken starts to take its toll. Finally he calls Ken and tells him to show up at Duck's room in the hospital, or he'll kill her. Ken shows up, but he says the Old Man can go ahead and kill her if he has to--Ken is going to stop him no matter what, because he's too much of a threat. The Old Man is stunned at this response. Ken takes advantage and punches him out of the hospital. They fight again, and as usual, Ken seems to kill him. This time he throws the body into space.
All this time, Ken is totally confused--was the Old Man the alien, or not? Why did he give him the Brand only to ask for it back? Was the Old Man fighting a war in space? And if so, was he on the side of good or evil?
The Old Man once again returns to fight him at a comic book convention, and Ken kills everyone there in the battle. When the Old Man once again "dies," his memories are transferred to Ken, and he finally understands who he really was. Ken decides he wants to get rid of the Brand himself, and in trying to do so, he destroys Pittsburgh.
Later, Ken has a child with Debbie the Duck, which becomes the Starchild, a baby with the power of the Star Brand. Ken loses the Brand. The Old Man returns once more. Finally the Starchild brings all the wielders of the Star Brand together. It turns out that the White Event, caused by the Old Man trying to transfer his powers to the asteroid, also sent Connell and the Star Brand power 500 years back in the past, and so the Old Man is actually Connell. In fact, the Starchild, Ken, and the Old Man are all the same, and the Starchild merges them all together to rectify their temporal paradox. Playing with time and reality, the unified being sends Ken's essence is sent back in time to become the Old Man; the Starchild becomes the contemporary Ken; and the Old Man becomes the Starchild right before he is born.
Powers and Abilities
The Old Man originally had control of the Star Brand, an incredibly powerful weapon. It can bestow upon even an inexperienced user nuclear-level, omnidirectional energy blasts, superhuman strength, flight, the ability to survive in space, immortality, and durability capable of surviving a nuclear bomb at ground zero. More experienced users can achieve almost limitless other effects.
After he gave the Brand to the young Ken Connell, he only retained 10% of its power. Even this enabled him to shape-shift, possess great strength and durability, regenerate from near-death on multiple occasions, create high-level energy blasts, and hypnotize people (as he did to Ken, Barb's daughter Laurie, and Duck), among other powers. Because he was so much more experienced with the Brand's powers, he was capable of fighting the young Ken (who had the full Star Brand) on a fairly equal footing.
In his alien form, he wears battle armor and carries powerful laser guns. He is capable of sinking his ship and weapons under the earth so they cannot be detected.