Retro Comic Cover Of The Week: Starro uses horrifying facehugging parasites on JLA #190 (1981)

Justice League Of America, Vol. 1, #190, 1981. Art by Brian Bolland.

Starro has the distinct honor of being the very first villain the Justice League of America fought in the pages of The Brave & The Bold #28 in 1960. Starro showed mind-control abilities then, and again in its second appearance 15 years later in the pages of Adventure Comics in an Aquaman story. But Starro controlled minds from a distance, so it was not very easy to understand or visually interesting.

When Justice League of America writer Gerry Conway decided to bring back rarely seen extraterrestrial starfish megavillain Starro in 1981, he was no doubt inspired by a little sci-fi/horror mash-up from a couple of years previous, called Alien. Specifically, the "facehuggers" that erupted from huge alien eggs and latched themselves onto unfortunate humans nearby, implanting embryos, and turning people into incubators. Now Starro had a more visually interesting—and scary—way to control others.

It was up to regular JLA cover artist Brian Bolland to introduce this new stomach-turning feature of Starro on the cover of JLA #189, but it was the cover of #190 that stood out the most, for the horrific scene of Starro parasites wrapped around the faces of the multitude of people on the cover, including all the members of the Justice League, even its most powerful heroes, Wonder Woman and Superman. Each person is obviously in Starro's control, with the single, staring eye of each parasite added to the creepiness factor.

Bolland created a massive amount of depth on the cover, from tiny heads in the background, to a close-up of Wonder Woman's face in the extreme foreground. Bolland added a layer of dimension by placing a couple of Starro's appendages in front of the Justice League masthead and headline. A giant alien starfish seems like a ludicrous, almost comical opponent for Earth's Greatest Heroes, but the addition of this horror aspect makes facing Starro a chilling task on this POP Retro Cover Of The Week.

Even movie director James Gunn agrees, since he featured Starro in the latest Suicide Squad movie, complete with facehugging mind control parasites.


The Brave & The Bold Vol 1., #29 (1960) First appearance of Starro


The Suicide Squad (2021)

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