The star is a motif that has been used by superheroes and space heroes alike; there’s Captain America’s chest insignia, same with Booster Gold and Marvel has used cosmic forces in a lot of their space-faring titles. Some of these heroes have the power of a star, cosmic forces granting them superhuman abilities, while others simply have the word “star” as part of their names. We’re gonna find a middle ground here and showcase some of the greatest star-themed superheroes in comics.
A few rules we found ourselves following was that the hero had to have “star” in their name, of course, and they had to have some connection to space or cosmic forces, be it in how their got their powers or what type of powers they have. So let’s take a look at some of these superstars and determine the coolest, most powerful and most recognizable of them all.
15. RED STAR
Perhaps best known by younger fans for his appearance in the “Teen Titans” cartoon, Red Star is a Russian superhero and former member of the Teen Titans. In the comics, Red Star actually predated Starfire and was the first to go by the name, a codename given to him by the Russian Military. Red Star’s real name is Leonid Kovar, and he got his powers as a teenager when he and his father, an archeologist, investigated an alien ship that exploded and gave Leonid extraordinary powers including strength, speed, flight, radiation generation and pyrokinesis. Being a communist patriot, Leonid joined the military, becoming the first Russian superhero within the DC universe. Red Star’s radiation powers even allow him to take on Superman due to its similarity to red sun radiation.
In his “Teen Titans” appearance, he was voiced by Jason Marsden and had an origin similar to Captain America. In this version, Red Star was a small and weak soldier who was enhanced to have super strength, stamina, and the ability to generate radiation. Unfortunately, the power within him was unstable, so Red Star forced himself into exile where his excess radiation couldn’t hurt anyone.
Originally from a different Earth of the Marvel multiverse, Starhawk’s origin is a little convoluted and hard to follow. He was born as the son of two Earth-691 superheroes (Kismet and Quasar), but was kidnapped after birth and left on Arcturus. He was taken in by Ogord, who named him Stakar and raised him as his own. At some point, Stakar had his mind sent back in time to possess his infant self, a process that repeated many times.
If that wasn’t confusing enough, an accident merged him with Aleta Ogord, the original Starhawk and Stakar’s wife. The merging gave Stakar all of Aleta’s powers, strength, speed, immortality, flight, light manipulation, darkness manipulation, precognition and enhances senses. Stakar and Aleta were separated thanks to the help of a hawk god, and were able to have kids during this time before remerging. To make matters even harder to understand, there is also a Starhawk of the Earth-616 universe, a hero of the 30th century of the main Marvel universe’s timeline. If you got lost in all that, we don’t blame you.
13. STARBOY (LEGION OF SUPERHEROES)
As it tends to be with the strange cast of characters that make up the Legion of Super-Heroes, Thom Kallor, A.K.A. Starboy (and eventually Starman), had some strange and very Silver-age-y first appearances in comics. Thom was born to astronomer parents on a satellite orbiting planet Xanthu. He was a metahuman with the ability to increase the mass, density, or gravity of an object. At some point when he was still a legionnaire, Starboy went back in time to meet the 20th century’s Superboy, where Clark Kent’s teenage sweetheart Lana Lang forces him to pretend to be her boyfriend in order to make Clark jealous. Kallor is eventually expelled from the Legion of Super-Heroes after breaking their no-killing rule, having killed his girlfriend’s ex in self-defense.
Later, in 2005, Mark Waid rebooted the Legion and cast Thom Kallor as black, and the hero eventually goes by Starman. This Starboy is schizophrenic and after leaving the medical technology of the 31st century behind to live in the timeline of Waid’s “Kingdom Come,” so he voluntarily commit himself to a sanitarium. Though he may have a confusing timeline, it’s hard to deny the matter-controlling star-power of this legionnaire.
That name is a bit of an oxymoron isn’t it? Since, you know, stars give off light. Regardless of the naming semantics, Darkstar, A.K.A. Laynia Petrovna, is a mutant of the Marvel Universe who hails from Belarus, a country that was once part of the Soviet Union. Laynia and her brother Nikolai were originally part of a superhuman team designed to take down Black Widow and return her to the U.S.S.R. Laynia eventually changed her views and allied with the side of good, joining the Champions until their disbandment. Laynia has had a short but eventful run in the Marvel universe, even garnering her own death and resurrection stories — a veritable right of passage for superheroes.
Darkstar’s mutant abilities are as strange as they are powerful. She has access to the Darkforce dimension, which is a cosmic, extra-dimensional dark energy that is also used by Nightcrawler for his teleportation. The energy gives her flight, teleportation and the ability to create cosmic Darkforce constructs of energy and matter. Laynia is also incredibly intelligent and has K.G.B. training in hand-to-hand combat.
11. STAR SAPPHIRE
Carol Ferris was first introduced to the “Green Lantern” comics as the head of Ferris Aircrafts and an on and off love interest for Hal Jordan, constantly rejecting him as she said she didn’t date employees. Carol later became Star Sapphire after being chosen by the Zamarons, female members of the same race as the Oans, originally known as Maltusians. The Zamarons were out to prove that men were inferior and commanded Carol to attack Green Lantern, giving her a crystal containing psionic energy that gave her powers similar to a Green Lantern ring.
Star Sapphire and Green Lantern have had a long history of fighting, usually prompted by the Zamarons to destroy Hal because of her attraction to him. This would change when the other Star Sapphires created what was essentially a Violet Lantern Corps and eventually become a force for good. The Star Sapphires are now powered by love on the emotional power spectrum and are depicted with only female members.
A member of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, Starbolt — sometimes known as Bolt — first appeared in “Uncanny X-Men” #107 and was created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. This star-like alien acts as law enforcement for the Shi’ar through his position as a royal guard. Some might have never heard of this hero, but he’s definitely one of the cooler star-heroes out there. As a member of the Shi’ar Empire, Starbolt is one of many different alien species who have come to live together in harmony. Starbolt’s individual race is unknown, but he is depicted as a being of living fire-like energy, which gives him pyro-kinesis, supersonic flight and immunity to fire and heat.
Starbolt has had a long history as somewhat of a side/background character within the cosmic corners of the Marvel universe. The imperial guard was even recruited to battle the X-Men over the Phoenix Force in a trial by combat and he would see the rise of a rebellion against the head of the Shi’ar empire, staying loyal to his Empress at the time. Starbolt was eventually killed by an extra-dimensional creature and hasn’t been in comics since.
The daughter of Nightwing and Starfire, Mar’i Grayson, A.K.A. Nightstar, made her first appearance in the alternate universe Mark Waid creation, “Kingdom Come,” and later as part of “The Kingdom” miniseries. Her superhero name very obviously comes from a combination of Starfire and Nightwing, and she inherited her mother’s superpowers and even trained in hand-to-hand combat with her father. As a half-Tamaranian, Nightsar has superhuman strength, energy absorption and projection, and can fly.
In “Kingdom Come,” Nightstar joins Batman’s Outsiders team, defying her father whom she had had a strained relationship with after Starfire’s death from a circulatory disease. After the events of “Kingdom Come,” Nighstar works to build a meta-human community on Green Lantern Alan Scott’s New Oa satellite. In “The Kingdom: Nightstar” it is shown that Mar’i likes botany and has a fear of death, and in “Justice Society of America” she is seen being romantically involved with Damian Wayne.
Not to be confused with the anthropomorphic fox who pilots a ship in space, Star Fox McCloud, Marvel’s Starfox is the brother of cosmic supervillain Thanos. Also know as Eros of Titan, Starfox is a superhero who has a healing factor, halted aging, super strength, flight and the ability to psychically control others’ emotions. He and Thanos were the two sons of Eternals A’Lars and Sui-San, the latter of which was killed by Thanos’ attack against Titan, the first of many attacks to come by the evil-inclined of the two brothers. Eros had been taking life easy before Thanos’ attack, but became a more serious force for good after his brother’s rise to power.
Starfox is depicted as a womanizer, using his powers to make women fall in love him and the like, even being put on trial for sexual harassment, with She-Hulk serving as his lawyer as he continued to use his powers to make the Jury sympathize with him. Though he is a womanizing hedonist, Starfox continues to fight for good against Thanos and and has assisted the likes of the Avengers and Spider-Man.
The Legion of Super-Heroes has a member of each super-powered alien race within their ranks, so it makes sense that a lot of the alien/space-faring members have star-related names, motifs and/or powers. We already covered Starboy, so lets take a look at Dawnstar, a meta-human from Starhaven. Starhaven is a planet colonized by Native Americans who were left there after being abducted by an alien race in the 13th century. The Starhavenites were modified by the aliens to activate their metagenes, which gave them feathered wings on their backs, which may appear bird-like, but allow them to fly at faster-than-light speeds. Dawnstar has these wings as well as the ability to survive in space by generating a forcefield.
Dawnstar also has long-range tracking skills that allowed her to rescue far-away colleagues and investigate mysteries that the Legion encountered. This super-star hero has had a long career in the Legion of Super-Heroes and even found herself in a romance with fellow teenage superhero Wildfire.
Similar to DC’s Harley Quinn, though not quite as popular or anywhere near as insane, Marvel’s Firestar originated in animation and eventually found her way into the mainstream comics only afterward. Angelica “Angel” Jones made her first appearance on NBC’s “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends” alongside Iceman and, of course, Spidey himself. The character was created to replace The Human Torch, since the show couldn’t use the character due to rights issues. Like Iceman, Firestar is also a mutant and was approached by the X-Men soon after her powers manifested.
As her name implies, Firestar has heat-related powers, specifically the power to manipulate microwave radiation, which gives her the ability to generate fire and heat, as well as allow her to fly. Outside of her original animated appearance, this super-star has had a long history as both a solo hero and as a member of the Hellions, the New Warriors (as a founding member), the Avengers and, of course, the X-Men.
5. STARMAN (JACK KNIGHT)
There are a lot of superheroes in the DC universe who have gone by the name Starman, about 10 or so, including the aforementioned Starboy, Thom Kallor. Though there are many to choose from, we’re gonna focus on the immensely popular Jack Knight version. This iteration of Starman was created by Hames Robinson and Tony Harris and had a massively successful 80-issue run from 1994 to 2001.
This version is also the son of the original Starman, Ted Knight, a golden age-superhero. Jack grew rebellious in his adolescence and rejected taking up the Starman moniker, his brother David taking it up instead. But when David was murdered by the son of his father’s old nemesis The Mist, Jack reluctantly takes up the Starman Moniker — though he ditches the green and red costume for a simple jacket and goggles look — to stop the new Mist from wreaking havoc. Jack wields the Cosmic Staff, an invention created by his father that is powered by stellar energy, giving the user rapid flight, telekinesis and energy manipulation.
After a long career of being Starman, Jack Knight eventually passed the Cosmic Staff down to Courtney Whitmore, formerly known as the second Star-Spangled Kid. After receiving the Cosmic Staff, Courtney started going by Stargirl. The character was created by Geoff Johns and her name and personality are based on his sister who died in the TWA Flight 800 explosion in 1996. The character originally appeared alongside her step-father Pat Dugan, who built S.T.R.I.P.E., a robotic suit he used to protect Courtney.
As Stargirl, Courtney appeared in most issues of “JSA” and dealt with the likes of Solomon Grundy and Klarion the Witch Boy. Stargirl was known for dating Shazam (then known as Captain Marvel) who, as Billy Batson, was the same age as her, but as his superhero persona was a fully-grown adult, it resulted in controversy and criticism from fellow JSA members. This leads Billy to leave the team rather than reveal his secret identity. Courtney herself has not been as secretive with her identity, as several of her classmates have learned of her super-heroic exploits. Courtney’s use of the Cosmic staff gives her all the same powers as her predecessors.
Many know Northstar for being one of the first openly gay superheroes in American comics, his marriage to Kyle Jinadu in “Astonishing X-Men #51” even being the first depiction of same-sex marriage in mainstream comics. Northstar, known as Jean-Paul Beaubier, was born along with his twin sister Jeanne-Marie to a French-Canadian family in Montreal. After their parents died in a car accident, they were separated and taken in by new adoptive families.
Jean was a rebellious teenager after developing his mutant abilities and joined a terrorist group before leaving and joining the Canadian-government-funded superhero group known as Alpha Flight, where he would reunite with his sister who had also developed powers and took on the name Aurora. Northstar has worked on and off with the X-Men, both as a temporary team up and as a full-fledged member. Jean and Jeanne both have the ability to fly, manipulate and project light, are superhumanly durable and have super speed.
Planet Tamaran is full of lush forestry, advanced technology, and a highly passionate and powerful race known as Tamaraneans. These beings are descended from cat-like creatures and are gifted with the ability to absorb energy and radiation, as well as convert it into super strength, speed, durability and energy projection. The most famous of the Tamaraneans is of course the “Teen Titans” bombshell Koriand’r A.K.A. Starfire. As we mentioned before, she wasn’t the first character to go by the name Starfire, but she is definitely the most popular.
Starfire’s natural Tamaranean abilities allow her to survive in space for extended periods of time and cause her hair to brightly burst into flames at the ends while flying and using her powers. These aspects of her powers as well as her signature “star-bolts” (her energy projection) essentially turn Kori into a living star, living up to her name. Starfire was created by Mark Wolfman and George Pérez and has had an on and off relationship with fellow Titan Dick Grayson throughout her comics history.
With the upcoming release of “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2,” the success of its predecessor, and the “Star-Lord” solo comic series, it seems like Marvel’s space-faring hero has found his way to the top of the super-star charts. Star-Lord is also knows as Peter Quill, a human/alien hybrid who was raised by the space pirates known as the Ravagers after losing his mother. The character is famously portrayed by Chris Pratt in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though he has no superpowers, Quill is a master strategist, skilled marksman, a skilled fencer and wields elemental guns.
In the comics, Star-Lord’s father was J’son, a Spartoi who crash landed on Earth where Peter’s mother met and fell and love with him. After his mother was killed, Quill joined N.A.S.A. and was marooned in space before the Ravagers took him in. Eventually, Quill took up the name Star-Lord and started acting as an interplanetary policeman along with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Film version of Star-Lord paints him as an interplanetary outlaw with a heart of gold, saving the galaxy with a bit more reluctance than his comic counterpart.
Which star-themed hero do you think is the best? Be sure to tell us your opinion in the comments!