Batman’s Greatest Robin is a Baby Starro (Seriously)
Several young crime-fighters have donned the colors of Robin, but the greatest of Batman’s sidekicks is Jarro–a baby starfish from space.
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Batman has granted the title of Robin to several young heroes throughout history, as any comic book nerd will tell you. And if you were to ask which Robin is the greatest of all time, many would argue the original, Dick Grayson, is the most iconic. A handful might pick Jason Todd (the bad boy) or Tim Drake (the brainy one) or even Damian Wayne (Bruce Wayne’s bloodthirsty offspring), but it doesn’t matter because they’re all wrong. The greatest Robin of all time is actually an alien starfish.
For those not familiar with Starro the Conqueror, the giant starfish from space first made his comic book debut alongside the Justice League of America in Brave and the Bold #28 in 1960. Since then he has gone on to become one of DC’s weirdest and most powerful villains of all time, taking over the world on multiple occasions with his ability to control minds via telepathy and an army of miniature face-hugging spores. In the 2018 miniseries Justice League: No Justice, Starro joined a mission led by Brainiac to save the universe from the Omega Titans–ancient gargantuan beings that gobble up worlds. After a rousing pep-talk from the Martian Manhunter, the giant starfish attached himself to the face of one of the Omega Titans, buying time for his fellow teammates to escape. Sadly, Starro was killed as a result of his selfless act.
That would have been the end of Starro the Conqueror were it not for Batman, who managed to nurse a a remnant of the creature back to life inside a special incubation jar. Renamed Jarro (because it’s Scott Snyder), the infant starfish spore became an extremely useful asset for the Justice League–able to connect teammates telepathically, mentally track down targets around the globe, probe minds for the purposes of interrogation (as well as a form of therapy), and also provide defense against psychic attacks. Throughout Snyder’s run of Justice League Jarro repeatedly proves his worth, even helping thwart Luthor’s Legion of Doom on several occasions.
But it’s not just his impressive psychic abilities that make Jarro such a great sidekick, he’s also got the peppy attitude of a ’90s cartoon companion. He repeatedly refers to Batman as “papa” and “dad,” slings cheesy Silver Age one-liners, and refers to himself as the greatest Robin of all time . His adorableness is so infectious that even Batman reciprocates much of Jarro’s affections, often acting like a protective father to the alien creature. In “Jarro’s Tale,” the Star Wonder briefly evolves into his next life stage in order to take over the mind’s of the Justice League, though not as an act of malice. A vision of the future convinces Jarro that the Justice League won’t survive the events of Dark Nights: Death Metal, so the loyal starfish decided to take matters into his own hands by brain-napping his adoptive family and taking them to his original homeworld. Eventually Batman breaks free of Jarro’s mental spell and convinces his sidekick that only by facing one’s fears can they hope to become a true hero.
Leave it to writer Scott Snyder to take one of the most fearsome and grotesque monsters in the DC Universe and turn it into a cute little companion for Batman–the ultimate Robin. Snyder gave the same treatment to Darseid in Dark Nights: Metal. After the tyrant New God of Apokolips was reverted into a baby at the end of “Darkseid War,” Batman kidnapped the ghoulishly cute newborn to use as a secret weapon against the bat-god Barbatos. And even villains are learning to weaponize babies, as longtime Flash rogue Gorilla Grodd used a recently infantilized Turtle (another bizarre Flash rogue) to negate the speedsters abilities in Snyder’s run of Justice League. In the era of Baby Yoda, it seems like taking immensely powerful creatures and turning them into cuddly rugrats is the new formula for success.