“I’m aware that if I ever needed anything beyond myself to validate my existence, the I would already be giving away my power to be self-defining.”
—Koriand’r (Lobdell, “REDepmtion” 18)
“On Tamaran we appreciate the past. We respect it. But we don’t live there. We live here. Now. In the moment.”
—Koriand’r (Lobdell, “REDepmtion” 22)
Since Koriand’r is, literally, an alien Other who’s been commodified and objectified by her creators and readers alike, there’s been this sorta self-imposed willful-ignorance about the distinct cultural differences that lead Kori to being just as confused by our social norms as humans are by Tamaranians.
Exoticized and sexualized because Koriand’r was created by men for men, the legitimate reasons for why Kori might dress and act in ways that set off internalized misogyny and the conditioning of the hetero-patriarchy (Wikipedia)—left, right, and center and that isn’t fair or correct and says a lot about the hows and whys of Koriand’r’s creation and our at-large cultural reactions to such characters—are overlooked and ignored.
The Tamaranians absorb UV as a natural part of their biology, turning that energy to flight and—if they’ve been torture-experimented upon by Psions (Comic Vine “Starfire”)—they can emit that energy into blasts that Koriand’r refers to as “starbolts.”
Because, let’s face it, that’s what’s happening. Koriand’r is converting the emissions of stars into energy into weaponry.
That’s pretty cool.
And, understandably, that kind of innate ability to convert the energy of a star into something so every day for Tamaranians, it’s easy to see that Tamaraians at-large would be joyous and temperamental and passionate.
So—Koriand’r and the Tamaranians are way too close for comfort (re: absolutely, 100% are) to some sort of overly stereotyped interpretation of about three different variations of the Noble Savage trope (TVTropes).
Yet, I stand by my decision to refer to Koriand’r as innocent, even if innocence is a strange word to associate with Koriand’r and her sexual liberation and somewhat frivolous-seeming personality (Comic Vine “Starfire”).
But as the only truly alien superhero in our BAMF Women Superheroes line-up—not someone supped up with tech or part of a mystical albeit human race or a mutant or an incredibly well-trained, well-supplied human—she is just that: innocent.
Innocent—maybe not even a typically human notion of innocence.
I don’t mean “guiltless,” maybe more “naïve,” but I don’t like naïve since it usually has an embedded cultural connotation of “lacking in intelligence in some way,” and that’s not Koriand’r.
That’s not Starfire.
Kori is a warrior-born, trained by the Warlords of Okaara (DC Wikia “Koriand’r [New Earth]”), and a brilliant strategist (Lobdell).
Kori is a literal princess, the second child of the Royal Family of the Tamaranians, and before the epic retcon that is The New 52, Kori was to become Queen.
Because her sister Komand’r had been deemed unfit since she had been ill as a child which left her without the ability to turn UV-energy to flight (Wikipedia); since The Citadel, enemies of the Tamaranian, killed 3,000 Tamaranians in Komand’r’s name, even though Komand’r had nothing to do with it; since Komand’r was a somber child unlike her more-typically-bubbly-Tamaranian sister Koriand’r (Comic Vine “Komand’r”).
Which all lead to Komand’r’s bitterness and hatred of her own people—her own sister—and caused her to betray them to their enemy The Citadel.
The price of peace was Koriand’r’s enslavement to The Citadel and her eternal exile from Tamaran.
In the retcon that is The New 52, Komand’r still sells out Koriand’r to The Citadel, but Komand’r does so as a Child-Queen and as Komand’r’s only hope of saving her people (vol 2 65-66).
What is one life when compared to billions?
It depends on which side of that equation you’re on and how honest you’re being that day.
And, if there’s one thing that Kori is, it’s honest-to-a-kinda-worrisome-fault-and-to-the-point-of-bluntness—like, having passed “bluntness” about 10 miles back kind of blunt—which is refreshingly lovely.
Another aspect of Kori that’s refreshing is that she doesn’t need to be backed into a corner—physically or emotionally—to ask for the help of her friends.
Because honestly with others demands honesty with one’s self.
Especially when her own moral compass is being weirded by her extraordinarily painful past: “Because the truth is, there are over a billion people on Tamaran—and not one of them had lifted a finger to save me. I am not ashamed to say…I don’t want to help them. A part of me does not care if The Blight takes the entire planet and reduces it to a living tumor. I need you to tell me if I am wrong.” (Lobdell “The Starfire” 68)
And, that’s the thing, Koriand’r isn’t wrong.
It’s not wrong to be selfish, to be hurt, to be angry that no one came to save you.
That your only choice was to save yourself.
Her Team doesn’t tell her she’s wrong either. They remind Kori that she is, at her core, a good person, a good princess, a good warrior, and a good sister.
That, even in her weakness, Kori is stronger than she thinks she is.
That being angry and hurt doesn’t make her less-than she is, than who and what she has always been: a Warrior-Princess of the Blood.
For all of the torture Kori endured—the rape, the humiliation, the self-imposed exile on Earth where she could feel as alone as she had felt during her years of enslavement, the torture-experiments, the betrayal Kori endured by her entire planet, by her sister—everything that she has gone through, she is still full of hope and love and life.
Kori is as loving as she is unrelenting, as forgiving as she is destructive.
She’s a paradox.
Just like all of us.
Strong and weak in turns.
Feeling so deeply while sublimating those emotions that are painful so that she can function in a place that is so foreign and alien to her.
A place that could become her home—if we’ll let her.
Slave of The Citadel.
Second Daughter of the Throne.
Commander of the Starfire.
And, that’s really what the BAMF Women Superheroes series is about, finding those places and spaces where Heroes stepped from their pages to become something more than characters.
To be people.
To be our inspirations.
To be our friends.
Comic Vine contributors. “Starfire.” Comic Vine. Comic Vine Wiki. 22 Sept. 2013. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.
Comic Vine contributors. “Blackfire.” Comic Vine. Comic Vine Wiki. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.
DC Wikia contributors. “Koriand’r (New Earth).” DC Wikia. DC Comics Database, n.d. Web. 7 February. 2014.
Lobdell, Scottt (w), and Kenetg Ricafort (a). “REDemption.” Red Hood and the Outlaws Collected Edition (October 2013); #1 Red Hood and the Outlaws (September 2011), DC—The New 52; #2 Red Hood and the Outlaws (October 2011), DC—The New 52; #3 Red Hood and the Outlaws (November 2011), DC—The New 52; #4 Red Hood and the Outlaws (December 2011), DC—The New 52; #5 Red Hood and the Outlaws (January 2012), DC—The New 52; #6 Red Hood and the Outlaws (February 2012), DC—The New 52; #7 Red Hood and the Outlaws (March 2012), DC—The New 52. Digital Comic.
Lobdell, Scottt (w), and Kenetg Ricafort (a). “The Starfire.” Red Hood and the Outlaws Collected Edition (October 2013); #8 Red Hood and the Outlaws (April 2012), DC—The New 52; #9 Red Hood and the Outlaws (May 2012), DC—The New 52; #10 Red Hood and the Outlaws (June 2012), DC—The New 52; #11 Red Hood and the Outlaws (July 2012), DC—The New 52; #12 Red Hood and the Outlaws (August 2012), DC—The New 52; #13 Red Hood and the Outlaws (September 2012), DC—The New 52; #14 Red Hood and the Outlaws (October 2012), DC—The New 52. Digital Comic.
TVTropes contributors. “Nobel Savage.” TVTropes. TVTropes Wiki. n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.
Wikipedia contributors. “Starfire (comics).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.
Image courtesy of DC Comics