Starfire Costume History
This article is about the third character from DC Comics named Starfire. We will not be discussing the Russian superhero from 1968 or the sword wielding alien woman. Our hero was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. Starfire would make her first appearance in the 1980 issue of DC Comics Presents #26. She could be found in the Teen Titan story insert, Where Nightmares Begin. According to Pérez, Starfire’s appearance was originally Red Sonja in space. When Joe Orlando randomly suggested she should have long hair, Pérez took the idea to the extreme by making her hair look like Mighty Mouse’s contrail.
Starfire’s real name is Koriand’r and she was born into royalty on the planet Tamaran. Tamaraneans have the ability to fly, because their bodies constantly absorb ultraviolet radiation and converting it into the energy needed for flight. However, Koriand’r had an older sister named Komand’r that had a disease as an infant that left her without the ability to store the energy needed for flight. Without the ability to fly, Komand’r was not allowed to rule and Koriand’r was next in line. This caused Komand’r to be insanely jealous of her younger sister and she develop an unhealthy rivalry. When they were going through their combat training with the Warlords of Okaara, Komand’r tried to kill Koriand’r. After being kicked out for her attempted murder, Komand’r was obsessed with revenge. She would betray her home world and give the defense plans of the planet to their enemies, the Citadel. After easily conquering Tamaran, one of their demands was that Koriand’r would leave the planet forever and be their slave. Koriand’r was to be the personal slave of her older sister. Komand’r made sure to make her sister’s life a nightmare. After years of servitude, Koriand’r killed one of her captors and her older sister was going to execute her as punishment. However, before the execution could take place they were attacked by the Psions. These aliens used their new prisoners to run experiments and discover how much energy a Tamaranean could absorb before exploding. This experiment actually expanded their ability to manipulate stored radiation. Starfire could now project some of her stored power into a blast of energy called a starbolt or almost completely drain her reserves to discharge a powerful omnidirectional explosive burst. Once depleted of her ultraviolet radiation reserves, Starfire is left in a weakened condition and very vulnerable. Luckily before the exploding part of the experiment, Komand'r's forces attacked their captors and Starfire was able to break free. She also helped remove her sister from the Psions’ experimental energy machine. Komand'r showed no compassion and instantly attacked Starfire. She had planned on continuing with the execution of her younger sister, but Starfire was able to escape by stealing a spaceship. Starfire piloted the ship to the nearest inhabited planet and found herself on Earth. She ran into Dick Grayson, who was Robin at the time, and became one of the original members of the Teen Titan. Her relationship with Dick Grayson would be long and complicated, but a major point in both their story arcs. As a Teen Titan member, she was able to bring more than her starburts and flying abilities to their arsenal. Her fighting skills from training in unarmed combat by the Warlords of Okaara and practice sparring with Donna Troy, paired with her super strength are more than enough to take out most enemies. To help with her understanding of the different languages in her travels across the universe, Starfire can learn any language by simply making physical contact with the other being. She has a habit of kissing men to learn their language, because she finds it “more fun”. (Based on how she is dressed, I have a feeling it is the writers and artist who find this more fun.)
After Flashpoint, there were some slight changes made to Starfire’s origin story in the New 52 Universe. The biggest change is that her sister sold her into slavery as a peace offering to another planet. She is romantically involved with Jason Todd, instead of Dick Grayson and becomes a member of the Outlaws. Starfire and her sister are also able to find peace with each other.
Starfire’s first costume would be one of her most popular. It was basically a purple monokini. The bikini bottoms had two straps of fabric go up her sides, leaving the center completely exposed, and then wrapping around her neck. There is a large gem in the center, where a belt buckle would be, but this is purely decorative and not needed to hold anything together. Originally, Starfire had a large chunky necklace with a medallion around her neck, but as time went on the necklace would slim down and appear to be part of the costume instead of a separate piece. Starfire needed to add something to her clothing, so it did not look as if all she had planned was a day at the beach. She would wear arm guards to protect her forearms in battle and her boots were originally knee high, but would eventually evolve into thigh highs. Perhaps because Starfire comes from outer space like Vampirella, she thought this outfit was an official superhero costume. After all, Vampirella has been wearing her costume since the late 60s.
Starfire would go with a more modest costume for a short period of time. This time it looked more like a one piece swimsuit, than a bikini. Still very proud of her natural endowment, she made sure to have a diamond shape cut out of the chest. The overall appearance looked more like armor, but still manage to keep the elements of her original costume. The upper part of her costume, where the necklace used to be, resembled chain-mail. The arm guards were now more like gauntlets without the fingers and her boots appeared to be made of a much thicker material. There was no doubt when Starfire was wearing this outfit she was out to kick some butt and not lounge around on the beach.
Not wanting to go back to the full monokini, Starfire would wear something a little more fancy, but just as revealing. Rather than wearing bikini bottoms, she now had on a pair of tiny hotpants. The trim looked like a lightning bolt and there was a small red gem in the center. Her top looked more like a tight short sleeve jacket, but it was skin tight and the front was completely removed with the the same jagged pattern as her pants. This shirt has a matching red gem between the colors that stick straight up. The top has an almost military feel to it. Rather than arm guards, Sharfire now wears purple opera gloves. The thigh high boots are a must. For the first time, she added some color to her all purple costume by putting a white trim around the edges. This helped give the outfit a lot more texture.
Less Material, More Sun
Starfire’s costume in the DC New 52 universe would make all previous versions of her wardrobe choices seem conservative. Starfire is wearing a thong to cover her bottom and two swatches of fabric to cover her top. She must have talked to Emma Frost from the X-Men to figure out how to keep this costume up against gravity. She did have on a thin belt and shoulder pads, with matching red gemstones. Starfires arm guards also became more sparse and might be good for archery, but not much else. Her boots would move down slightly and now ended just above the knees. Although there was a lot less fabric, what little she did wear appears to be thicker and more durable. I guess we can justify her lack of covering by saying she needs the sun to charge her powers and by exposing more flesh, she is able to absorb more power quickly. Yes...lets go with that.
While researching Starfire's different costumes, these swimsuit pictures kept popping up at the top of my search. It is fascinating that a character who practically fights evil naked would still feel the need to wear a bikini at the beach.
A few specialty costume shops carry Starfire's costume from the Teen Titans animated series (images were watermarked and I could not display here), but nothing from the comics. Fans have to make their own Starfire costumes.
If you enjoyed this article, you can find links to my other Costume History Hubs by clicking on the link above. Explore the history of some of the greatest female superheroes in comics through their costumes.
Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)