Whether it’s Cartoon Network’s orange, cheerful young girl with a tendency to mix up English, the 80’s and 90’s tall, muscular, flame-haired warrior Princess Koriand’r or the amnesiac alien portrayed by the talented Anna Diop on DC Universe’s Titans, Starfire is a recognizable and iconic character. But despite her multifaceted identity, even her biggest fans may be surprised to learn that the Starfire we know and love is not the first DC character to have that name; in fact, she’s the fourth!
Original History Of Starfire In DC Comics
Here’s what you need to know about DC’s original three Starfires.
DC’s first Starfire debuted in 1971’s Adventure Comics #402 as an enemy of Supergirl. This Starfire was a crafty human crime-lord who sought nothing less than total world domination, and therefore the eradication of superheroes who would try and stop her. After amassing a fortune through con jobs and criminal connections, she created a pill that would negate superpowers and decided to try it out on an unwitting Supergirl. Starfire accomplished this by having a charming young con man infiltrate Supergirl’s college and slip her the pill while out on a date. Happily, the pill only caused the young Maid of Might’s powers to fluctuate wildly for a brief period of time, and though Starfire escaped to fight another day she was eventually captured and put behind bars. Though this Starfire faded into obscurity before being completely removed from the post-Crisis on Multiple Earths Multiverse, she is worth remembering as a worthy, deadly foe who seriously endangered one of the most powerful heroes of all time.
Starfire (New Earth)
The next Starfire starred in a titular eight-issue series in 1976, and bore a much greater resemblance to the fiery hero of today’s comics. Born in a distant galaxy far far away, she was given up at birth by her parents and raised as a slave by Sookaroth, leader of the Mygorg race. At age 18, Starfire fled her captor after discovering his plans to forcibly wed her; after being tracked down by Sookaroth’s guards she was finally rescued by Dagan, a warrior priest. Though constantly on the run from slavers, Dagan trained Starfire in martial arts and several different weapons. At the same time he helped her discover the true meaning of freedom, of individuality, and of love.
Soon after the young renegades confessed their feelings to one another, however, Dagan was captured and tortured to death by Sookaroth and his men. This rare reverse-fridging caused the heartbroken Starfire to swear vengeance on her former captor and to free every enslaved being in the galaxy. Though the Starfire series ended in 1976 and did not take place in the main continuity of Earth One, the character and her reality are believed to have survived the Crisis that destroyed her previous namesake and continued on in some form in the New Earth’s universe.
Starfire (Leonid Kovar)
The third Starfire is much better known than his predecessors and has played a far bigger role in mainstream DC comics. The Russian meta-human Leonid Kovar first appeared in 1968’s Teen Titans #18 when the team had its original lineup. Kovar received his superhuman strength when an alien ship he and his father were inspecting exploded and imbued him with mysterious energy, and soon after became Soviet Russia’s first hero and a KGB operative codenamed Starfire. He teamed up with the Titans at Interpol’s request to catch a jewel thief in Stockholm.
While the heroes are reluctant allies at first, by the end of the issue they part on friendly terms. Kovar returned over a decade later in The New Teen Titans #18 as Red Star, well after the current Starfire was established as a member of the team. Lingering anti-Soviet sentiment led the American heroes to clash with their former ally as he followed his government’s mysterious instructions, but the harsh truth shocked them back to their senses: Red Star was only there to stop a rogue agent’s bioweapon from decimating America’s population. That bioweapon came in the form of the hero’s fiancee, who he was willing to kill for the greater good.
The name Starfire has been held by many different characters: Heroes and villains, aliens and humans, members of the main DC mythos and long lost relics of old comics. With the current and (hopefully) final Starfire, they are a reminder of just how far DC’s lore goes back, and how it’s capable of recycling concepts and names with new and exciting results each time.