Starro the Conqueror
Starro the Conqueror(pop culture)
In the first published appearance of the Justice League of America in The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960), DC Comics' most powerful superheroes were nearly eradicated by … a starfish. That oftreprinted tale, scripted by Gardner Fox and penciled by Mike Sekowsky, begins in the Atlantic Ocean, where a puffer fish telepathically notifies Aquaman of an enormous starfish with a sinister single eye that “traveled across billions of miles of interstellar space” seeking an inhabited world to dominate. This is Starro, an alien oppressor that transmutes Earth marine life into obedient replicas to spread his influence globally. Exercising mind control over the humans it encounters, Starro combats the Justice Leaguers by firing bolts of unfathomable force from its tentacles. Teenager Snapper Carr inadvertently discovers Starro's susceptibility to quicklime, providing the JLA with the key to stopping this otherworldly enslaver. Justice League editor Julius Schwartz named this uncanny supervillain after the title of one of his favorite science-fiction epics, Tarrano the Conqueror, a 1925 novel written by Ray Cummings, a former employee of inventor Thomas Alva Edison. While artist Sekowsky concocted Starro's look, the 1956 Japanese horror film Uchûjin Tokyo ni arawaru, distributed in the United States as Warning from Space, featured extraterrestrial invaders (portrayed by actors in rubber suits) that remarkably resembled Starro's appearance—nearly four years before the character's first comic-book appearance. Aside from a pair of cameos in issues of Justice League of America, Starro next resurfaced for an undersea battle against Aquaman in Adventure Comics #451 (1977). In 1981 he returned to attack the entire League, discharging tiny starfish probes that affixed themselves to victims' faces— akin to the “face huggers” in the Aliens movie franchise—to exert their master's mental manipulation. He tried once again to overcome the world's greatest superheroes in a 1991 story arc in Justice League Europe, in which a Starro-controlled Martian Manhunter nearly made mincemeat of his teammates. Writer Grant Morrison netted a retooled Starro—now called the “Star Conqueror”—to reassemble the then-disbanded League in JLA Secret Files #1 (1997). In that comic, an intergalactic subjugator called “It” dispatched starfish probes to Earth to link with humans' nervous systems. “I am the probe. He is the Conqueror. You are the spaces yet to be taken. Understand that your minds were never your own,” muttered the Flash under the Star Conqueror's sway. Another of the Star Conqueror's attempts to lord over Earthlings attracted Morpheus the Sandman, the lord of dreams, and the starfish was quite appropriately banished to incarceration in a numinous fishbowl. It is only a matter of time before the Star Conqueror's swims free of its imprisonment and attempts once again to overpower the Justice League and the planet. Starro appeared on television in the two-part Batman Beyond episode “The Call” (2000). The cover to The Brave and the Bold #28 was recreated as a mini-statue by sculptor John G. Matthews in a 2002 release from DC Direct.