WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Dark Knights Metal #4, on sale now.
Like every issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Bat-centric event series so far, Dark Knights Metal #4 is packed to the brim with insane moments and dramatic transformations of some of DC Comics' most iconic characters. Perhaps the weirdest yet, though, is the unexpected re-emergence of the Justice League's original foe -- Starro the Conqueror.
Created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky, Starro debuted in Brave and the Bold #28 in 1960, uniting Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter against a threat none of them could defeat alone. Since then, he has endured at least in part due to his foundational stature in League history -- Starro is a true classic, even if he is an evil purple starfish. Most recently, Starro and his mind-controlling space spores teamed with Larfleeze and Brainiac to invade the planet Xudar, home of Green Lantern Tomar-Tu, as part of a scheme to lure and destroy the Green Lantern Corps.
But in Dark Knights Metal #4, Starro is a bit different from last time we saw him.
Starro? More Like Starr-bro
As teams of heroes split off throughout the universe seeking the Nth Metal that might save existence from Barbatos, Mister Terrific, Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Plastic Egg venture to the hidden Thanagarian homeworld, Thanagar Prime. Onimar Synn, last seen as the villain of the Rann/Thanagar War, now sits upon the throne. While Lord Synn greets the heroes pleasantly, he soon reveals that he himself has consumed all of Thanagar's Nth metal. "I was what lured you here," Synn tells them, before introducing his new ally: a decidedly more brotastic Starro.
It's a wild intro, made better by the caption dialogue between editor Rebecca Taylor and Snyder and Capullo, whose devil horns emoji comes with a power chord implied. Somewhere, off panel, in a story that will probably never be told (but makes for a bitchin' anecdote), Terrific seemingly destroyed Starro the Conqueror, only for the starfish-god to regrow himself from a single severed tenta-claw. All right. Ok.
Outside of his new… personality, Starro also no longer needs his face-hugging sentries starfish to control people's minds. This is of course a great efficiency for the Conqueror, but, um, wasn't the starfish-face-thing what made him cool, to the degree Starro was cool?
At any event, Synn reveals he not that worried about Barbatos TBQH, because he's got a super-weapon called the Phoenix Cannon trained on Earth's core -- if the Dark threatens, he'll just blow up the Earth. He and Starro emphasize that the cannon "never changes target," "ever," foreshadowing that it will definitely change target before the end of Dark Knights Metal. But in the meantime, the new and improved Starr-bro makes short work of Green Lantern, using his mind powers to sap Hal's will, and traps the heroes in a net. One imagines it's a really well-made net. Synn claims control of the Plastic Egg, the "final piece" in his nefarious plan.
More importantly, though, in this issue Snyder and Capullo offer the most succinct summary of Dark Knights Metal to date: