Justice League of America #190 – Reviews of Old Comics

Went through the comics I remember reading as a kid and thought of this old issue of Justice League of America that impressed me. The image of super-heroes with wacky starfish attached to their faces has stuck with me to this day, making Starro one of my favorite JLA villains. It’s probably this issue’s striking cover that caught my eye as a kid, .


jla190-0001Justice League Of America #190

May  1981

Story: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Rich Buckler
Inks:Bob Smith, Larry Mahlstedt
Colors: Gene D’Angelo


A handful of Justice League members gather on the deck of an aircraft carrier that’s part of makeshift armada converging on New York City. Starro the conqueror has taken over Manhattan by replicating smaller versions of himself and controlling the human population, which includes some of the most powerful members of the JLA. That handful of Justice League members convince the admiral to give them until nightfall to free the population from Starro.

The captive Justice League turn Grand Central Station into a conductor for Starro to draw power he needs to generate more replicas which he can use to take over the rest of the human population. Red Tornado slips off, Starro not noticing that the android is not under his control. However, his escape is stopped by a Starro-controlled Wonder Woman, but the Red Tornado prevails and flies away.

The League infiltrate Manhattan as a young boy wakes up in a freezer, free of Starro’s control. The cold temperature of a walk-in freezer stopped Starro’s replica. Aquaman stops Starro from sending replicas out of Manhattan by boat. The Justice League sneaks into Grand Central via the subway tunnels, and Batman notices a connection growing between Flash and Zatanna. They are attacked by a swarm of Starro replicas, but repellor-disks provided by Hawkman keep them from being controlled, but the swarm does prove to be a threat through sheer force of numbers. Zatanna casts a freezing spell that takes a lot out of her, noticed only by the Elongated Man.

Red Tornado attempts to disable a power station to cut electricity that Starro is feeding on to create his replicas. Unfortunately the power feedback renders him unconscious. Hawkman and Hawkgirl stop a Starro-controlled helicopter from getting out of the city. They then find the frightened young boy in the freezer. Batman discovers that the replicas can’t just be pulled off of the controlled people.

Red Tornado comes to and in avaliant effort, manages to cut the power that Starro is feeding on. He is then confronted by the entire Justice League, free of his control. Once Hawkman and Hawkgirl learned from the boy how the cold freed him from Starro’s power, Zatanna’s magic did the same to the Justice League. Firestorm and Green Lantern then use their powers in unison to freeze Starro as well.



Gerry Conway’s story is very linear, which serves a purpose, but he also makes time for some development of subplots between Flash and Zatanna, and some taxing aspect of Zatanna’s powers. Overall though, he takes a very vast and threatening menace and solves the problem in twenty-five pages, which makes everything feel slightly rushed.

Adding to that rushed feeling is the unconventional pale arrangements by Rich Buckler. Much of the action is drawn small. The art team handles that quite well, and the problem just adds to that rushed feeling. To the credit of the story, the JLA has a matter of hours to defeat Manhattan before the armada attacks the island.

Unfortunately, while the story is rational, Zatanna already knows that freezing cold will stop Starro. The discovery of the boy in the freezer is somehow necessary to freeing the JLA. It’s a good comic, but with flaws.



This issue has not been collected to the best of my knowledge, and of this writing is not available digitally. You should be able to locate it relatively inexpensively, and depending upon the condition you want it in, possibly a bargain bin.

FINAL RATING: 7.5 (out of 10)