Starfire previewed in DC Comics Present #25 (Oct 1980), before making her first real appearance in The New Teen Titans #1 (Nov 1980), both appearances were by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Starfire’s name was a hold over from an earlier Teen Titans character, but the concept of a space amazon princess (“Red Sonja in space” as Perez once commented) was new. She was the heir to the throne of an alien planet in the Vega star system called Tamaran. Tamaranians are ruled by their strong emotions. They are open and loving with their friends, but they are also fierce warriors when roused to anger. Princess Koriand’r was the second daughter of Tamaran’s ruling family. She and her elder sister were fostered by the War Lords of Okaara who schooled them in the ways of combat and governance.
Koriand’r elder sister Komand’r (alias Blackfire) had been born without the power of flight and was thus deemed unfit to succeed their father. Komand’r rebelled and betrayed her people to the Citadel. War between Tamaran and the Citadel was only averted when the King reluctantly agreed to give up Koriand’r as a hostage. The Citadel then gave the two sisters over to the reptilian Psions as experimental subjects. The Psions experiments should have killed them, but it instead enhanced their natural Tamaranian ability to metabolize starlight and gave them the power to fire powerful energy blasts called “starbolts”. Koriand’r eventually escaped from the Citadel and made her way to Earth. Raven called a new Teen Titans group together to protect Koriand’r from the pursuing Citadel and she joined the Titans as Starfire.
Koriand’r, or Kory as her friends call her, has found Earth’s conservative customs confusing and has struggled to cope with the ways that human guard and hide their emotions (something antithetical to a Tamaranian). Kory started a long and passionate relationship with the Titan’s leader Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing/Batman). However, affairs of state from Tamaran have continued to divide them. She has outlived two Tamaranian husbands (one for politics one for love) and three homeworlds (Tamaran, New Tamaran, and Karma). Grayson once proposed marriage to her, but it never came to pass.
Donna Troy’s death prompted the Titans and Young Justice to reorganise as the Outsiders and as a new incarnation of the Teen Titans. These new Teen Titans were primarily younger heroes (successors to the original Teen Titans), but Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire returned to mentor and chaperone the new group. Starfire switched to the Outsiders after the groups new leader Jade asked her to balance the increasingly macho posturing between Roy Harper and Dick Grayson (Outsiders #16, Nov 2004). It was Grayson who convinced Kory to stop holding back and shoot down Brainiac’s ship with a single massively destructive starbolt – a rare example of her full power (Outsiders #25).
When Rann and Thanagar went to war Blackfire brought the Tamaran survivors into the conflict (Rann-Thanagar War #1-6, July-Dec 2005). Starfire was drawn into the same conflict when a resurrected Donna Troy recruited heroes to help her investigate a growing spatial rift situated in the war zone. Blackfire had encouraged the Thanagarian Grand Mor to escalated the war, but she and her sister reluctantly fought on the same side when the true nature of the rift was revealed (Infinite Crisis #1, Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special #1, April 2006).
The rift been caused by a villain unsuccessfully trying to recreated an extinct Multiverse. Adam Strange tried to use a Zeta-Beam to teleport Earth’s heroes home as the rift collapsed. However, there was an accident and Starfire, Adam Strange, and Animal Man found themselves stranded amid the devastation of the Stygian Passover – a cult of undead soldiers created by the Lady Styx. They also found themselves allied with the bounty-hunter Lobo (who was on a pilgrimage as an Archbishop of the Triple Fish God) and the Green Lantern of Vengar (pilot of the Emerald Head of Ekron), but the group split after Styx was defeated (52 Week 36-37, Jan 1007).
Kory formed a deep and lasting friendship with Buddy Baker (Animal Man) during her time in space. She took his death during battle badly and swore to return his signature jacket to his wife on Earth. A power boost from Rann’s three suns gave Kory the ability to fly unaided from Rann to Earth to deliver the jacket, but she almost killed herself and passed out from exhaustion on the Baker’s door step (51 Week 51, 25 April 2007). Unknown to Kory, Buddy had been resurrected and had already returned home. Kory spent weeks in a recuperative sleep in his spare room, but upon waking she found that she had lost almost all of her native Tamaran powers. She tried to adjust to normal life as the Baker’s childminder, but Kory found the experience difficult. Her stay with the Bakers was been complicated when Animal Man almost pushed their deep friendship into infatuation. She corrected him and remains close friends with Buddy, Ellen, and their family (Countdown to Adventure #1-8, Oct 2007-May 2008).
Buddy and Kory were reunited with Adam Strange when a contingency plague left over by the Lady Styx threatened to overwhelm Rann and Earth. Kory’s solar powered abilities eventually proved the key to destroying the virus after they had been jump started in a stunt similar to the one that had boosted her powers for the original flight from Rann to Earth (Countdown to Adventure #1-8, Oct 2007-May 2008). Adam Strange asked Kory and Buddy to aid Rann again when Lady Styx and the Church of the Holy Light ignited another war between Rann and Thanagar (Ran-Thanagar Holy War).
Kory was still staying with the Bakers when the former Titans were attacked by a trio of Raven’s siblings. The adventure proved so natural to the friends that they decided to reform the Titans. While they had been under the emotional influence of Raven’s siblings Dick and Kory had briefly resumed their former passion (Titans #1-4, June-Sept 2008). Kory told Dick that she couldn’t go on the with pain of the “Start. Stop. Lovers. Friends. Then back again.” cycle they were in and made him admit that he didn’t love her in the same way he use to (Titans #5, Nov 2008). Kory later confessed to Donna that she felt “betrayed and wounded” by Dick’s confession (Titans #11, May 2009).
Things were coming to a head for Kory emotionally. She loved her friends, but the Titans were drifting apart again as they each returned to their normal lives. She came from a naturally free and joyous race, but she had been through many cycles of enslaved since her childhood – by her own sister, by the Citadel, by her friend’s siblings, and metaphorically by her own feelings for Dick Grayson. When Darkseid enslaved the world with the Anti-Life equation Kory was one of the first to fall and served as a Justifier under his control (Final Crisis). She was freed, but the feelings of helplessness connected with her wider depression. She accidentally blew a hole in her bedroom wall while sleeping (Titans #14, Aug 2009) and had to be restrained by her friends during an operation against Intergang in Metropolis. At Donna’s insistence Kory began seeing a psychologist in Metropolis called Claire Foster. She helped Kory to begin reconciling the contradictions in her life (Titans #16, Oct 2009).
When Vixen was looking to rebuild the Justice League she asked Kory if she was interested. This was at a low point in Kory’s life, before she started seeing Dr Foster, and she was unsure if she wanted to belong to any team (Titans #16, Justice League of America #36, Oct 2009). One of the few friendships Kory maintained outside of the Titans was with Buddy Baker and his family. Kory and Donna were using his the Baker’s pool when Congorilla and Starman arrived seeking Buddy’s help with their investigation into Prometheus. Kory helped the Justice League fight Prometheus and was with them when they discovered that Roy Harper’s arm had been torn off (Cry For Justice #5-7, Jan-Apr 2010). She discussed the JLA offer with both Dick (now Batman) and Cyborg and they both agreed that it was the best place for her. However, it was an attacks by the villain Phobia and the Black Lantern Omen that showed Kory that most of her fears of abandonment were tied to Titans Tower and facing those attacks gave her the strength to finally move on (Titans #20-21, Feb-March 2010, Blackest Night: Titans).
Why does Starfire deserve to be in the Justice League? Over the last few years Kory has grown as a member of the Titans, and she had, if anything, out grown them. From her appearance in 52 forward she had become a full-blown member of the DC interstellar superhero set with a range and experience that propels her into a different League as a heroine. In terms of raw power she can fly unaided in space (Rann to Earth with a power boost), and can project some of the strongest attacks in the superhuman community (she once shot down Brainiac’s skull ship with a single shot). An interesting coincidence in this group is that Doctor Light and Starfire both have links to the Vega star. Starfire worships X’Hal, the goddess who embodies Vega, while Doctor Light’s powers are fuelled by Vega.
One of the biggest problems for Starfire in this new JLA has to be the association of the other Titans. She was asked to join the JLA by Vixen long before Dick, Donna, and Cyborg joined up, so she has had to undergo something of an emotional journey to leave the Titans behind. Yet, suddenly here they all are again. Kory is back with the same people, albeit friends, that she was trying to move beyond. How that will bear out for her long term prospects with the League remains to be seen.