For eagle eyed comics fans, trailers for The Suicide Squad have had the villainous writing on the wall for some time now. There have been glimpses of enemy soldiers sporting strange coverings on their faces, and a giant, tentacle-like foot crushing a car. Oh, and a full glimpse of a “kaiju” villain on a monitor-screen in the background.
That can only mean one DC Comics villain: Starro the Conqueror.
Who is Starro the Conqueror?
To be blunt: Starro is a giant psychic starfish from space who can shoot lasers from his tentacles. He was the first villain that the Justice League of America ever fought, way back in 1960’s The Brave and the Bold #28.
At that time, DC Comics was in the process of updating a lot of its lesser-known characters for a new generation of youngsters — these days, we’d definitely call it “rebooting.” The Justice League itself was simply an atomic-era reimagining of DC’s WWII super team, the Justice Society. The team’s immediate popularity convinced rival upstart comics publisher Timely Comics to try their own superteam, The Fantastic Four, kicking off the Marvel revolution.
So, yes, the Avengers had Loki, and the Justice League had a giant psychic starfish from space.
What is Project Starfish?
Project Starfish is probably a unique construction to The Suicide Squad, written and directed by James Gunn. But if we had to take a guess, it might have something to do with an attempt to weaponize Starro’s creepiest superpower.
What are Starro’s powers?
As a giant space starfish, or Star Conqueror, Starro can fly unaided through vast interstellar distances, fire lasers from the tips of his arms, absorb energy (even that of a point blank nuclear bomb), regenerate limbs, and, in some comics, change his size to grow bigger or smaller for convenience.
But later versions of Starro have really brought his psychic powers to the fore, making him as much of a cosmic horror sort of foe as he is a big starfish that can laser you to death. Starro can generate tiny duplicates with which he shares a psychic link, and once those duplicates have made contact with another sentient being, they assume total control of their mind.
Starro spores can hide under clothing as they pilot their hosts and pretend nothing is wrong, but when the jig is up and hiding is no longer a priority, you get the classic creepy Starro iconography: Dozens of superheroes with a starfish plastered across their heads, its central and unblinking eye staring with an alien hatred.
It’s unclear exactly how Starro’s mind control abilities might be used in The Suicide Squad, but it’s safe to say there’s a lot of potential there, beyond the threat of a kaiju-sized malevolent starfish.
What’s Starro like in DC’s current comics?
I’m so glad you asked. Right now Starro is presumed dead, but the Justice League managed to rescue a tiny polyp of him; a baby clone of Starro. They keep him in a jar, and named him Jarro.