There are some pretty kooky concepts in the comic book world, concepts that, placed anywhere other than comics would be laughable. Starro is one of those concepts. Not only do most comic fans know Starro, but a large number of those fans hold a special fondness for the purple alien starfish. Lately, Tony Bedard has been using the pages of R.E.B.E.L.S. to deepen the legend of Starro, taking that legend beyond kooky and making it intriguing and even enjoyable.
This Annual gives us the full scoop on Starro the Conqueror. We learn about the true driving force behind the starfish. Bedard introduces us to Starro's Vanguard, a select group of aliens who possess a modicum of free will and serve Starro in his efforts to continue his conquest. This story provides readers with backstories to two of Starro's most trusted soldiers as well as Starro's own origin. Rounding it out is a tale of the battle between Starro and Despero -- two of the most persistent enemies of the Justice League.
The art is an astonishingly well-selected mix of styles, each well-suited to the character depicted within. Andrasofszky's drawings of Starro's beginnings are equal parts noble and bold, cold and terrifying. St. Aubin's framing sequence is jam-packed with detail and intricacies. Each of the artists, while rendering Starro in his own unique way, manages to make the concept less kooky and darn near believable. After all, the "Alien" franchise is partially based on a concept straight from Starro, with the face-hugging.
The surprise twist to this book is the motivation that fuels Starro. This book caught me by surprise. I planned to get it for review purposes, but found myself compelled to read it as my second title this week based on the battle between Despero and Starro -- I had to know who triumphs! From there, the book took me to places I didn't expect to see, especially given the preview that has been in the back of DC comics recently. While that preview is strong on its own merits, I think DC may have served itself better by providing an unlettered page from each artist in this issue. Truly, DC could have served itself better once more by playing up the kooky, fan-friendly aspect of Starro on the cover. It almost certainly would have drawn in a few more readers.