When DC rebooted their universe a couple of years back with the introduction of “the New 52,” one of the most hotly debated and complained about elements was the new version of Starfire, a.k.a. Princess Koriand’r, the long-running Teen Titans character who was re-introduced by Scott Lobdell in the pages of Red Hood and the Outlaws. As created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in the pages of The New Teen Titans in 1980, Starfire was conceived as a fierce alien warrior princess with a heart of gold, who rapidly became one of the most popular new female characters for DC in years (kind of the Harley Quinn of her day), whose popularity only increased when Wolfman and Perez placed her in a long-term romantic relationship with Dick Grayson, at that point the nearly grown Robin the Boy Wonder, about to transition to his new career as Nightwing.
Though the Nightwing/Starfire relationship would eventually come to an end and Starfire’s popularity would surge and wane over the years with the fortunes of the TITANS comic, the character remained fairly consistent, at lest until the New 52, where she was stunningly rethought as little more than a sex object, remarking that she “doesn’t remember” most of her romantic partners, including Dick Grayson, and it’s said of her that she has a short attention span when it comes to humanity, “like a canary,” with the unsaid implication that this made her ideal for casual sexual encounters. Bleah. Much of this was later walked back and explained away after it was met with near-unanimous distaste, but still, it’s cast a pall over the character for the past few years, especially when combined with her “new 52” redesign, which was more sexually overt and gratuitous than ever, which is saying a lot considering that the character’s sex appeal has always been front and center in terms of visuals.
Which is why it was such an incredible surprise to open the pages of Starfire #1 this week by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Emanuela Lupacchino and find that the Starfire I remembered was back.
An ideal jumping-on point for new readers, the story finds Kori looking to start over in Key West, Florida, and going to the local sheriff for help in building a life for herself on an unfamiliar world. It’s funny and charming if light on the action, but that’s okay, as it’s been so long since we’ve seen the real Starfire in comics, it’s nice to just slow down and spend some time with her again. Writers Conner and Palmiotti do fine work here returning Kori to her original Titans voice, which is not just smart for old-school fans like me, but also for marketing to all the female fans, young and now teenage, who grew up with the Cartoon Network version of Starfire from the various TITANS animated incarnations.
A perfect match for the writing is Lupacchino’s art, which portrays Kori as beautiful and appealing but still realistic and grounded, no longer spending every panel arching her back and pointing her toes as so wearyingly consistent in her previous series. There’s also a cute and funny visual device here showing Kori’s thoughts with little cartoon pictograms as she struggles to understand Earth idioms.
It’s a fantastic start, hopefully one kicking off a lengthy run from this creative team. Highly recommended.