SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Injustice 2 #17 by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Juan Albarran, Rex Lokus and Wes Abbot, on sale now.
Superhero comics are silly.
It’s important to admit that fact, along with the subsequent statement that just because they’re silly doesn’t mean they’re not also great. Some of the best concepts in comics are the silliest, as are the most enduring. After all, Marvel Studios has made tens of millions of dollars from a walking tree that can only say three words.
Silly is good, so long as it’s sincere, and one of the silliest and most sincere additions to the DC Universe over the last decade is the introduction of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern ring-wielding kitty from Earth. There’s something about an Earth cat feeling enough rage to be admitted into the Red Lantern Corps that just feels right, but he actually has as traumatic a backstory as Batman or Spider-Man.
Now, Dex-Starr has been introduced to the word of Injustice via the Injustice 2 prequel comic. And while his origin has been changed from that of the comics, it’s somehow even more traumatic perhaps even understandable that this cute little kitty is the most rage-filled being on the planet.
Dex-Starr was created by Geoff Johns and Shane Davis, debuting in the one-shot Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, but his origin wasn’t revealed until years later in a back-up to Green Lantern #55 by Johns and Shawn Davis (who happens to be the brother of Shane). It established that Dex-Starr was once a kind kitty named Dexter who witnessed his owner’s murder and ended up a stray. From there, Dexter was captured, bundled into a sack and thrown from the Brooklyn Bridge by a pair of sadistic teens. As the sack fell, it was intercepted by a Red Lantern ring which found that Dex-Starr of Earth had great rage in its heart and thus welcomed the pet into the Red Lantern Corps. He used his new abilities to kill the teens who tried to kill him, and committed himself to finding the person who killed his owner in order to get revenge for her death.
The Injustice series hasn’t really tackled Lantern Corps outside of the traditional Green and Yellow, but with Atrocitus and Dex-Starr playable in Injustice 2 it was only a matter of time that they made their debut in the comic. In a twist on the established origin, Dex-Starr’s membership in the Red Lantern Corps is actually Ra’s Al Ghul’s fault. With the world in ruins following Superman’s dictatorship, Ra’s has dedicated himself to preserving life on Earth for animals — allying with the likes of Animal Man and Vixen to achieve his goals. As part of his plan, Ra’s has acquired an Amazo robot; one of the Justice League’s oldest foes, capable of replicating the superpowers of any metahuman it comes across.
As a test run of the Amazo, Ra’s Al Ghul unleashed it on the smalltown of Williams, Arizona where it cut through the population of 3,023 in minutes. However, when Batman and his team arrived, they deduced that it was Ra’s because none of the animals had been hurt and we the readers saw the Amazo picked up a cat and moved it out of the way, only to violently murder the feline's entire human family. As Batman’s team leaves the area, we see that same cat welcomed into the Red Lantern Corps as Dex-Starr, heralding the arrival of an entirely new, and undeniably cute, threat for the post-Regime reality to face. But will he fight alongside Batman and his heroes... or against them?