Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Great Starro panels of our time

Ripping the piss out of old comics eh, it's as easy as shooting starfish in a barrel. BUT, don't forget chums, old comics may be easy to mock, but they're also brilliant. Take Justice League of America #189, a typical piece of Bronze age silliness in which Starro the Starfish Conqueror takes over Manhattan.

Now I love Starro, but he is a bit daft - an intergalactic megalomaniac who also happens to be a telepathic starfish? It's an idea straight out of a '50s B movie, so naturally any comic in which he features is going to have an element of camp schlock about it. Yet, for all the silliness in JLA #189 there are also some genuine moments of genius, including one amazing panel which has gone straight into my list of all time favourites.

Here's the set-up: Back in Adventure Comics #451, Starro's efforts to take over earth are thwarted by Aquaman. Long story short: Starro takes a good fucking hiding and is sliced into calamari-style pieces. One of his suckers floats around for years until a young boy fishes it out of the water. The sucker takes over the boy and his parents, forcing them to restore it to health by feeding it protein. It's during this process that we get this...

Click the pic for a closer look

How creepy is that? There's dad and his little lad standing in a pile of rubbish, opening tin after tin of food, while mum kneels on the floor (still in her apron) ladling gloop into toddler Starro's blowhole! It's magnificent, proper horror! A surreal subversion of happy family life which would grace the wall of any modern art gallery, (well I think so anyway), and the kind of panel which stops me in my tracks and makes me remember why I love comics so much.

Perhaps he is a bit silly, but come on folks, admit it - HUNGRY TODDLER STARRO IS THE HORROR BOMB!

Scan from JLA #189, April 1981. Art by Rich Buckler and Frank McLaughlin

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