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‘Justice League #29’ (review)

Written by Scott Snyder
and James Tynion IV

Art by Bruno Redondo 
Published by DC Comics

 

“Don’t you see? Every damn thing out here is like you. Fighting to be better than its nature. We are all – Jarro.”

Starro is one of the all-time classic, most dangerous of Justice League villains – and one of the silliest.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good shot of the entire Justice League with mind-controlling alien starfish spores wrapped around their heads?

That contrast has always been part of the appeal. And so naturally enough, writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion, have done everything possible to tell a Starro story that makes him both more dangerous – and more silly – than ever before.

It almost works.

Our latest issue of the Justice League begins with a brief retrospective of Starro’s origins – one that makes it abundantly clear that everything about the monstrous alien predator is entirely in line with Lex Luthor’s fanatical ideology of self-interest above all.

Indeed, Starro the Conqueror could easily claim the title of Apex Predator for itself, given how perfectly designed the mind-controlling consciousness seems to be for domination, and how effectively it has used that power to conquer endless worlds beyond its own.

And yet, when the Omega Titans turned up to threaten the stability of the Universe, it is Starro who (for some reason) steps up and makes the greatest sacrifice of all. Or so it seems.

In fact, Starro’s death is not as terminal as it was initially made out to be. We’ve known for some time that at least one remnant starfish spore of Starro survived. Initially kept in a jar by the League, gradually the baby starfish – call him Jarro – left his petri dish, and joined the League itself, styling itself as Batman’s next (and greatest) sidekick.

Needless to say, it’s absurd to see the tiny starfish running around in a version of Robin’s hooded uniform, calling Batman ‘Dad’, and sounding like the sort of fan-boy boy-scout persona that it’s hard to imagine any part of Starro ever adopting.

I guess growing up around the noble minds of the Justice League is a tempering influence.

Which is good, because it looks like Jarro is in need some of that temperance this issue.

Initially, that appears to be a bad thing for the Legion of Doom. But there’s a twist to the plot that allows for both a riff on every other classic Starro/Justcie League story ever written, while also providing Jarro a chance to level-up. If only he can figure out what that really means.

It’s a twist that at first seems quite clever. And in fact, the set up does make for one of the best articulations of the overall theme-arc of this run of the Justice League that we’ve seen to date. Along with a nice little commentary on the moral pitfalls of control and domination.

It’s all rather entertaining to boot. The dialogue is fun, the action is engaging, artist Bruno Redondo does a fine job of storytelling (though I’m partial to Francis Manapul’s cover art myself).

And we needed this story. Because the question of Jarro/Starro has been hanging for a while now, and it’s a question that deserves some attention before the imminent Justice/Doom War begins in earnest.

Unfortunately, for all that the twist is clever, and keeps us guessing, its ultimate revelation ends up making a big chunk of the previous story obsolete and nonsensical.

I suppose you could make a case that one of the most powerful minds in the Universe also has one of the most powerful imaginations. It’s not quite presented that way however. Which makes the necessary transition from fiction to fact just a little… jarring.

Oh well. At least now we know which side Jarro’s really on.

Too bad Starro’s on a side of his own.

Next Issue: WAR

 

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