The big bad of the new Suicide Squad is a giant kaiju-like creature known as Starro. Fans of DC Comics likely recognized the alien parasite immediately. Starro has played a significant role in the history of DC superhero comics, including being the very first villain the Justice League ever faced.
Since then, Starro has been a major villain and a hero, with his complex backstory playing a big role in comic book storylines over the last sixty years. Starro might be the villain in The Suicide Squad, but as longtime comic book readers know, that’s not the entire story about this fascinating character.
Updated on September 3rd, 2021 by Darby Harn: Starro’s showcase as the villain of The Suicide Squad has brought a lot more attention to the cosmic creature and his history in DC Comics. From the Silver Age to the current day, Starro has been a fixture in comic book storylines that mostly involve the Justice League, though he occasionally branches out into other books as well. Though his fate in the movies seems sealed for the moment, he has an infinite future in the multiverse of the comics, as well as a rich past that provides fans of the character a lot more to explore after the movie.
15 The First Villain Of The Justice League
Starro has the distinction of being the first villain the Justice League ever fought together. He debuted in the team’s very first appearance in The Brave And The Bold #28 in 1960, co-created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky. Starro arrived from space and began absorbing the mental energy of scientists, leading the major heroes of the early Silver Age to come together to stop him.
The original Justice League included Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. Starro had another inadvertent influence on comic history as well. The success of the Justice League led Marvel Comics to create the Fantastic Four, co-created by the legendary combo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
14 The Star Conqueror
Starro looks like a giant starfish, but in fact, he’s a highly intelligent and powerful alien entity. Starro originates from the Star Conquerors, an ancient race of alien beings that use mind control powers to conquer planets. Starro has taken over nine galaxies just on his own, but he’s been frustrated in every attempt to take over the Earth thanks to the Justice League.
Starro only made sporadic appearances in the comic until the ’80s, when he became a more prevalent threat to newer iterations of the Justice League.
13 Generates Spores
The most frightening aspect of Starro is just how he achieves his control of other people. Starro is a gigantic creature (though he can change size in some cases) and generates thousands of tiny starfish-like versions of himself.
These latch onto people, covering their face – not unlike the Face Hugger from the Alien franchise – and seize control of their central nervous system. Starro can control millions and even billions of people at once through this terrifying method of attack.
12 Cosmic Powers
Beyond the generation of spores, Starro is cosmically powerful. He has a broad array of abilities that should rank among the most powerful DCEU villains. The most significant aspects of Starro’s powers lie in telepathy and telekinesis, unsurprising given his very nature.
Starro also has the ability to project energy beams, as he often did against the Justice League. He can fly through space, is generally invulnerable to most physical attacks, and can change size and color at will, depending on the situation.
11 Conquering Europe
In the early ’90s, Starro achieved his greatest success in his bid for the conquest of Earth. Starro, who had been trapped on Earth for some time, finally escapes, or so it seems. He releases millions of spores over Europe, seizing control of virtually the entire population.
This leads the Justice League Europe branch to try and liberate the continent. The story, which took place over Justice League Europe #24-28 in 1991, sees Starro in control of Europe until JLE member Ice freezes him, releasing all of his captive humans.
10 Once Known As Cobi
As is pretty much the standard for DC Comics characters, Starro The Conqueror’s backstory varies depending on what version of continuity he exists in. In one iteration, he was once known as Cobi. Cobi was actually a member of the Hatorei alien species whom the Star Conquerors decimated.
One of the Star Conquerors fixed to Cobi and together they formed the being that would become known as Starro. The Cobi version of Starro was revised back to just plain old Starro in the Flashpoint comic book event from 2011.
9 Fought Against The 99
One of Starro’s major engagements in the comics pitted him against The 99. The comic book crossover JLA/The 99 from 2010 brought the Justice League together with the all-Muslim superhero team The 99 from Teshkeel Comics, a Kuwaiti comic book company.
The two teams faced off against the combined forces of Starro The Conqueror and Rughal, an ancient villain of The 99 who seeks the Noor Stones. Starro and Rughal don’t so much as team up as just pick really bad times to set off their evil plots.
8 Traded To Lord Manga
After his defeat by the Justice League Europe, Starro is frozen in captivity. His story takes a strange turn when Captain Atom trades the frozen Starro to supervillain Lord Manga (also known as Khan) for an unspecified favor in the future.
This trading was somewhat typical for Manga as he once traded the Justice League his android L-Ron. Lord Manga’s status as an intergalactic trader is how he ends up with Starro in the first place; Manga had also taken Despero into custody from the JLA and once tried to trade a kidnapped Mister Miracle to Apokalips.
7 Took Control Of The Martian Manhunter
Starro The Conqueror seeks to control the minds and bodies of basically everyone he comes into contact with. In the comic book storyline Justice League: No Justice, Starro takes control of J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter, with unexpected results.
As the two fight alongside the Justice League against the invading alien forces of the Omega Titans, the compassionate nature of the Martian Manhunter influences Starro to consider a life beyond conquering for the first time.
6 Starro The Cat
There are many versions of Starro The Conqueror throughout the DC Comics multiverse. One of the most unique is Starro The Cat. This version actually isn’t an alien parasite but the housecat of Snapper Carr, a superhero who fought with the Justice League against the alien Starro in his first adventure.
That led him to name his pet cat after the alien supervillain. Starro The Cat made a few appearances after his debut in Hourman #1 in 1999, and never caused as much trouble as his villainous namesake.
5 Fighting The Avengers
The Avengers have faced off against some very powerful villains in the comics, like the devilish Mephisto. One of their most unexpected foes was Starro.
The DC supervillain faced off against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the crossover JLA/Avengers, which brought together the two powerhouse superhero teams in 2003. The battle occurs as a result of a cosmic chess match between Krona from DC and The Grandmaster from Marvel that forces both teams to seek out artifacts of extreme power.
4 Heroic Sacrifice
Starro is nominally a villain in any universe he appears in, but in more recent years, he became something of a hero. In the pages of Justice League: No Justice in 2018, the heroism of Martian Manhunter inspires Starro to act in a more utilitarian fashion.
This ultimately leads to a heroic sacrifice on his part. Starro attempts to mind control one of the Omega Titans but is ripped apart by the titanic villain. While tragic for Starro, this move saves many lives and allows the Justice League to evacuate the planet of Colu.
Starro had died, but his story took one of its most eccentric turns when Batman grows a new version of the character from a tissue sample of the original. He dubs this miniature version of the character ‘Jarro.’ Jarro debuted in Justice League #10 in 2018.
Jarro retains all of Starro’s power and potential, but he seems to have a much more amenable personality, and an unlikely friendship with Batman that leads to one of the zaniest comic moments in recent history.
2 The New Robin
Jarro really likes and identifies with Batman, to the point he wants to become the new version of Robin. He does, at least in his head. In a funny and heartwarming sequence in Justice League #29, in 2019. In his elaborate fantasy, Jarro dons a Robin costume, complete with a cape and custom fit to allow his singular eye to see through it.
He fights alongside The Dark Knight defending Gotham. It’s only a fantasy, and never becomes reality, at least not yet.
1 Red Lantern Starro
One of the most frightening versions of Starro in the comics is the Red Lantern Starro. He debuted in the alternate universe depicted in Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four Annual #1.
This version of the character is in possession of a Red Lantern ring and is thus a member of the Red Lantern Corps. Red Lanterns are fueled by rage, giving them their distinctive crimson color. Red Lanterns can generate Rage Plasma, which incinerates essentially anything. In addition to his other cosmic powers, this made Starro even more deadly.