Starfire: Where Do I Start?

53374_20060725100407_largeAlien princess. Slave girl. Super-hero.

DC’s Starfire is all of things, and more. A lot more, especially, than the revealing costumes she oftentimes wears.

Created back in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez for their revamp of the Teen Titans, Starfire came to Earth on the run from Gordanian slave traders who had imprisoned her. Born on the alien world of Tamaran as a royal princess and next in line for the throne, Koriand’r found her destiny derailed by the jealous machinations of her older sister Komand’r (later taking the name Blackfire). Robbed of her title and her birthright, Starfire was sold into slavery by her sister but found her way to Earth and became the impetus for the foundation of the Teen Titans team.

As a talented fighter with a novice’s perspective on Earth customs, she provided an interesting vantage point for The New Teen Titans in superhero life, as well as normal life. She went through a long and intense romantic relationship with Dick Grayson (aka Nightwing) that almost culminated in nuptials, but after that fell apart she charted her own path in the DCU.  In the modern “New 52″ era of DC Comics, Starfire has been revised to be a part of Red Hood And The Outlaws, continuing the threads of her alien origins and her seemingly timeless role as an alluring woman for men (and sometimes women) to ogle.

In this week’s Where Do I Start?, I delve into the key stories of Starfire from her debut in 1980 to the modern day. While she’s never had her own series (not even a mini or one-shot!), Wolfman, Perez and others have given her the spotlight here and there to delve into her back-story and create a story of her own.

21621_20060419170905_largeTales of the New Teen Titans #4: Teased inside the regular New Teen Titans book in the two years since she debuted, it wasn’t until this one-off issue of this spin-off series that Koriand’r got her own spotlight. Told over a campfire during a team retreat, Starfire tells of her birth into the royal family of the planet known as Tamaran and through to her time as a slave. This elaborates on Starfire’s military training and her intense relationshpi with her sister and Tamaranean politics. This has been collected in both New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 3 and New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1, but with their hefty price point I wouldn’t recommend buying them for just one story — instead just seek out this single issue in back issue bins or online.

The New Teen Titans Archives, Vol. 1: This is where it all begins. From Starfire’s and the Teen Titans’ debut in DC Comics Presents #26 to the first eight issues of New Teen Titans, this collection of work by Marv Wolfman and George Perez show the immense comics power the two have right at the gate. This is a showcase for the Teen Titans, and Starfire herself as a team player and impetus for the team coming together in the first place.

The New Teen Titans Archives, Vol. 4: This collections both the first annual and issues #21 – 27 of New Teen Titans, of which include a great story where Starfire returns to her homeworld of Tamaran after years away. Koriand’r goes head-to-head with her sister Blackfire in an epic sibling battle and also some time for romance with Dick Grayson first confessing his love for Starfire.

Red Hood #10The New Titans #97 – #100: Although never collected, this four issue arc by Wolfman and Tom Grummett is a classic superhero marriage storyline gone all wrong with the return of Raven. It retrospect it’s a truly harrowing piece of fiction, with Starfire and Nightwing’s wedding interrupted midstream by a returning Raven who implants the seed of a demon inside Starfire. What a wedding present.

Red Hood And The Outlaws #10 – #13: Moving past the over-sexualization of the character early on in this series, Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort spend time getting to know Starfire in this four part story titled “The Starfire” in which they showcase Koriand’r prowess as a military warrior and tactician. One part Flash Gordan and one part General Patton, this issue adds a startling third dimension to this shapely character as it delves into retelling Starfire’s royal origins on Tamaran and her training as a military commander. This is slated to be collected in Red Hood And The Outlaws, Vol. 2., but that isn’t due out until August 2013.