Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Vile Corpus: Starro the Conqueror in Who's Who in the DC Universe #13 (October 1991)
Back when I was pretty ignorant about Martian Manhunter's Silver Age solo adventures and still trying to figure out who his rogues gallery should be, I leaned heavily on JLA villains. My site was called "the Rock of the JLA" after all, and this was in the days when retroactive continuity was really pushing J'Onn as the "heart and soul" of the team. By that logic, Manhunter should have had access to any of the classic League foes. However, I tried to apply at least some discrimination. I mean really, how much contact has J'Onn had with Felix Faust, y'know? Also, I wasn't hot to have a gallery full of total losers, especially if I looked desperate through the inclusion.
This might explain why, even then, Starro the giant mind-controlling space starfish never made the cut. Not many heroes have tangled with Starro solo, and those that have (*cough* Aquaman * cough) couldn't be said to have been enriched by the encounter. The closest to making things "personal" with the Alien Atlas was in a two-parter from Justice League Europe where J'Onn guest-starred as Starro's pawn. How Starro managed to hang on to the Manhunter's brow, especially as drawn by Bart Sears, is beyond me. Also, the hero who beat J'Onn/Starro? Ice. As in Ice Maiden. As in former Global Guardian and "Woman In Refrigerator" Ice. That's tough to live down.
Anyway, that early 90s story made enough of an impression to form the basis for Starro's second Who's Who entry, this time in the looseleaf edition. Brian Bolland can sell the creepiness of heroes possessed by a purple invertebrate on their kissers, but much as I love Jim Aparo, he can't. So Power Girl, Elongated Man and especially the Flash are clowned in the worst way here, and for added embarassment, Martian Manhunter was made such a mockery twice. Here's a second illustration from the reverse side of the page, one of two. The other? Aquaman as the only hero who stood up to Starro the Conqueror, drawn by the artist of their actual battle. Okay, I guess the retroactively enriches the Sea King a tiny bit.