Comic Legends: How a Brian Bolland Drawing Changed Starro Forever

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and eighty-third installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false.

As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

Starro splitting into little face-hugging Starros was introduced first on Brian Bolland’s cover for Justice League of America #190


My pal Tim Callahan (who just had a birthday. Happy birthday, Tim!) shared Brian Bolland’s covers for Justice League of America #189 and 190 recently and I went to go share with him the legend I wrote about those covers, until I realized that despite reader Rob H. suggesting I do it years ago, I never actually wrote up a legend on those covers. Whoops! Well, this is that now!

Brian Bolland’s first work for DC was for editor Jack Harris in late 1970 and it was the brilliant Green Lantern #127 cover…

That cover was so amazing that obviously people at DC were quickly lining up to give Bolland more work.

He quickly did two more Green Lantern covers…

But then he did two Justice League of America covers in late 1980, including the iconic Justice League of America #190 cover…

The fascinating thing here, though, is that Bolland drew the cover for Justice League of America #190 FIRST, before any story had been written or anything like that. Julius Schwartz (and other editors, like Mort Weisinger) was famous for doing covers first sometimes and having the writers have to come up with a story to match the cover and this is a perfect example of this, where Bolland drew the cover of the SECOND part first and then writer Gerry Conway had to go back and write a two-parter to fit that cover (and then Bolland drew another cover for part one of the story). All of this was confirmed in the letters page for Justice League of America #195.

Conway (with artists Rich Buckler and Frank McLaughlin) set up Starro’s return in #189…

And then introduced the mini-Starros…

and the issue ended with New York City under Starro’s control…

I am not sure whether Bolland was hired to come up with the cover or if it was something he did on spec. Almost certainly, he was inspired by the famous facehugger aliens in Alien…

Either way, it’s a brilliant cover. And the mini face-hugging Starros have become the most common way Starro has been used ever since.

Bolland later notably did a similar concept with another cover for Schwartz in Superman #422 where Marv Wolfman had to come up with a story to match Bolland’s stunning cover…

Thanks for reminding me I never wrote about this before, Tim! And thanks to Rob for the suggestion!

Check out some other entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Was Monopoly Invented as a Tool to Teach People the Evils of Capitalism?

2. Did Star Trek: The Next Generation Use Sherlock Holmes Characters in an Episode Not Knowing That the Characters Were Not Yet in the Public Domain?

3. Was Monopoly Once Ruled a Generic Term and Thus Not Protected by Trademark?

4. Did Walt Disney Keep the Actress Who Played Snow White From Taking Other Roles So As To Avoid Ruining the Illusion Behind Snow White?

Check back later for part 2 of this installment’s legends!

Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn how a Brian Bolland Justice League cover changed Starro in the DC Universe forever.

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