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Red Star

Alias: Leonid Kovar
Formerly: Starfire

Joined: New Titans #77 [1991]
Related Links: Maladi Malanova • Pytor RaskovKonstantin Kovar
Science City • Anna Zametova Anastasia • PanthaBaby Wildebeest

Red Star Quick Bio: Leonid Kovar’s exposure to a space ship gave him powers – enabling him to become Russia’s first young hero as Starfire. Leonid later joined the Titans as Red Star and developed fiery new abilities.

Teen Titans File Photo:


Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

Hero History


Rising Star

A meteor was believed to have crashed in Russia’s Yenesi River in 1908, but it wasn’t until a decade ago that the truth about this incident was discovered. Young Leonid Kovar joined his archaeologist father on a trip to study the meteor, and they learned it was an alien spacecraft. Leonid touched the wrong control of the ship at the wrong time and was irradiated with incredible energies that mutated his body.

When these energies manifested themselves as superpowers, Leonid was taken by the Soviet State and subjected to studies and training which turned him into the first of a new generation of Russian meta-humans. Originally called Starfire, Leonid faithfully served the interests of the Soviet Union being carefully indoctrinated in the strident dogma of the Communist Party.

ABOVE: The Teen Titans meet the Russian Superhero Starfire in TEEN TITANS #18 [1968].
BELOW: The origin of Red Star is retold in NEW TEEN TITANS #18 [1982]. 

Leonid’s father, Konstantin, seemingly perished under the service of the Soviet Union. Through much of his adult life, Russian scientist Pyotr Raskov looked after Leonid and became his surrogate father.

One way the Soviets ensured Leonid’s loyalty was by limiting his access to the ways of the western world and their abundance of super-powered beings. Starfire did, however, eventually meet United States heroes and began an on-again/off-again relationship with America’s Teen Titans. Particularly, Kid Flash (who was raised in a strict conservative family) was distrustful of the Russian hero.

Kid Flash clashes with Leonid in TEEN TITANS #18 [1968].

At one point, Starfire’s loyalty was severely tested when his fiancee Maladi was the victim of a crazed bureaucrat who infected her with a fatal disease. He was forced to track down the girl to the United States, where she spread the plague through touch, as it slowly killed her as well. Leonid came into conflict with the Titans over the incident; Eventually, Maladi was found, but it was too late to save her. She died on the day Leonid and Maladi were to be married. Shortly after this incident, Starfire was re-christened Red Star, further tying him to his homeland.

Leonid clashes with the Titans over Maladi in NEW TEEN TITANS #18 [1982].

Falling Star

Times changed and the Russian government sent Red Star to San Francisco’s S.T.A.R. Labs as part of an exchange program to further the world’s knowledge of superhuman powers. There, he was reunited with the Titans, which proved fortuitous when Hammer and Sickle of the Peoples’ Heroes came looking for Leonid’s blood. They were sent by a radical faction within the Russian government that did not want Red Star studied, nor did they want peace between Russia and the U.S.

When learning of this deception, Red Star rebelled and, with the Titans, subdued the Russian operatives. This left Red Star feeling like a man without a country, given the insidious infighting within his own government. On the one hand, he strongly believed in everything he was taught, but on the other, he recognized that the world was changing around him.

The Titans reunite with Red Star and find a rebuilt Cyborg
in Science City – it all happened in NEW TITANS #77-78 [1991].

Titans Hunt

Shortly after this, current and former members of the Titans were hunted and captured by the Wildebeest Society. During the conflict, a rocket was launched containing Victor Stone, and it crash landed in Russia.

Cyborg’s damaged body was recovered by Red Star and brought back to Science City, Russia’s state-of-the-art research epicenter. A group of Russian scientists did their best to rebuild him, but were unable to restore his mind. The remaining Titans tracked down Cyborg to Science City, where the Russian scientists were unwilling to release Cyborg into the Titans’ custody. Eventually, Dr. Pyotr Raskov allowed the Titans to take Cyborg after Red Star pleaded their case. Red Star accompanied the Titans to the United States and helped the team put an end to the Wildebeest Society once and for all.

Following the events of the Titans Hunt, Red Star elected to remain a member of the team – still hoping to save Cyborg’s mind. Meanwhile, fellow member Pantha developed an attraction to Red Star, much to his chagrin.

Red Star’s powers flare up in NEW TITANS #94-96 [1993].

Leonid was soon called back to his homeland of Russia by Dr. Pyotr Raskov. When he returned with Cyborg, he learned of a devious plot within the walls of Science City: His father, Konstantin Kovar, was still alive and had been working in secret for years to overthrow the Russian government. Using Cyborg’s technology to create an army of cybernetic Meta-Men to serve him, the power-mad Konstantin plotted to assassinate the President of Russia and blame it on the American government.

Red Star uncovered the insidious plot with the help of a mysterious operative known only as Anna. As the pair attempted to stop the Meta-Men, an explosion triggered a startling new power surge for Red Star; The Russian hero learned he could burst his body into flames as well as channel and redirect fiery energy. These new abilities help put an end to Konstantin Kovar’s attempt at a coup, but at a terrible price. Red Star’s scheming father executed Pyotr Raskov, who had raised Leonid since childhood. And Anna was forced to kill Konstantin as Red Star watched.

Touched by tragedy, Red Star returned to the States. Unknown to Red Star, a handful of Russian scientists secretly salvaged the remains of Konstantin and transformed him into a cybernetic – perhaps brain dead – Meta-Man.

Red Star, Pantha and Baby Wildebeest leave the Titans and form a
unique family unit in NEW TITANS #114 [1994].

Death and Rebirth

Shortly thereafter, mounting pressures forced the New Titans to be placed under the government’s watchful eye.  Rejecting this notion, Red Star elected to leave the team and travel the world instead. Pantha, who was smitten by the handsome Russian hero, aggressively invited herself along with Baby Wildebeest in tow. Together, the trio grew into an affectionate surrogate family, making a home in Russia’s Science City and aiding the Titans when called.

When Superboy from Earth Prime ran amok during the Infinite Crisis, Superboy called on his Titans allies to subdue his Kryptonian doppelganger. The misguided Superboy-Prime inadvertently decapitated Pantha and slaughtered Baby Wildebeest – leaving Red Star to mourn his fallen friends.

Red Star returned to his homeland to discover an uprising of “The Meta-Men Militia”, a terrorist group who wanted the Russian government to sanction meta-human activities. Red Star quelled their insurgence, but Science City was destroyed in the process. Now a man without a home, Red Star briefly joined the Titans again, only to quit after realizing the team was in complete disarray.

The Teen Titans learn how Red Star has rebuilt his life following the deaths of
Pantha and Baby Wildebeest – in TEEN TITANS (third series) #38 [2006].

Upon returning to Russia, Red Star repelled an alien invasion in the heart of Moscow – earning the praise and accolades of his people. So much so, the president appointed Red Star “State Protector” – a title the young hero takes quite seriously. Red Star co-opted the fallen alien spacecraft for his own use: to observe and protect his nation using super-technology. Now hovering one thousand feet above the Kremlin, the lonely Russian soldier stoically guards his homeland.

 Powers & Abilities


Red Star was empowered by unknown alien energies that have caused chain reactions within his molecular structure, altering his physical abilities and reflexes. Over time, these abilities have changed and he has gone from being an incredibly fast and strong being into one with an array of powers.

Red Star’s abilities include superhuman strength, speed and endurance. Red Star can also morph into a form that is composed of fire-like energy, in which he can form and redirect energy.

A 2009 commission by George Pérez, from the collection of Eric Sellers. 

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Essential Reading


Teen Titans #18 [1968]: Starfire I (Leonid Kovar; first appearance; origin revealed; a Russian super-hero; given name revealed in New Teen TItans #18). Kid Flash begins his long-standing animosity toward the Soviet hero. Interpol requests that the Teen Titans team up with a Russian super-hero, Starfire, to safeguard the Crown Jewels of Sweden from Andre Le Blanc, the self-styled “world’s greatest jewel thief.” Mutual antagonism spoils the joint efforts of the American and Soviet champions, until Starfire rescues the Titans from Le Blanc’s death-traps. Kid Flash then returns the favor by saving Starfire from death on the subway tracks, while Robin defeats Le Blanc in hand-to-hand combat. The Titans and Starfire part amicably.
New Teen Titans #18 [1982]: Leonid “Starfire” Kovar runs into the Titans for the second time when a Soviet citizen is infected with a radiation plague and is sent to the U.S. by an embittered Soviet official; The heroes mistake Red Star for the plague carrier, battle him, and then learn that the actual carrier is Red Star’s fiancee. Last Appearance of Leonid as Starfire. First Appearance of Red Star.
New Teen Titans (second series) #48-49 [1988]: The Titans’ old friend, Red Star, comes to the US for what he believes to be an exchange of information between the Soviet and American Governments; People’s Heroes’ members Hammer and Sickle attempt to terminate Red Star, but the Titans intercede, and Red Star gains political asylum in the US.
New Titans #77-78 [1991]: Nightwing, Deathstroke, Dayton, Pantha, Phantasm and Arella travel to Russia to locate the rocket, which they discover contained Vic Stone. Vic has been rebuilt by Russian scientists as a brain-dead robotic storm-trooper. Old Titans ally Red Star aids the Titans in reclaiming Vic and they travel back to the United States. Donna Troy returns to New York to find the destroyed Titans Tower. Nightwing is brought before Jericho, who holds the captured Titans, saying that the transference will begin. Red Star joins the Titans.
New Titans #94-96 [1993]: Red Star is called back to his homeland of Russia. He learns his father Konstantin is alive and building an army of Meta-Men as part of a plot to assassinate President Yeltsin and blame it on the American government. Red Star is aided by a mysterious agent named Anna, who is foiling Konstantin’s plot for reasons she keeps to herself. Their ensuing battle triggers and explosion, which triggers a startling change in Leonid. His body burst into flames – he becomes an energy entity which can channel and redirect energy. He eventually reverts back to human form. Anna and Leonid disrupt Konstantin’s plans, but Pyotr Raskov is killed in the battle for refusing to comply with Konstantin. Also, Anna is forced to kill Leonid’s father, Konstantin. Order is restored and Red Star returns to the United States. Anna is secretly revealed to be the descendent of the legendary Grand Duchess Anastasia – making her heir to Russia. Russian scientists have secretly salvaged the remains of Konstantin and made him a cybernetic (perhaps brain dead) Meta-Man.
New Titans #114 [1994]: Arsenal agrees to the Titans under government jurisdiction. Minion’s home planet is destroyed by an unseen force. Nightwing, Starfire, Pantha, Red Star, Baby Wildebeest and Flash decline membership for the time being. Only Changeling, who has been secretly corrupted by Raven, accepts membership. Continued in Damage #6, the team’s last mission. First appearance of Jarras Minion. Red Star, Pantha and Baby Wildebeest leave the Titans.
Titans #20 [2000]: The Titans travel to Science City in hopes of giving Vic Stone a new cloned body.
Teen Titans (third series) #22-23 [2005]: Doctor Light has forced the Titans’ hand and staged a publicized battle with the young heroes to take back his reputation. Red Star appears in a new costume.
Infinite Crisis #4 [2005] & Teen Titans (third series) #32 [2005]: Superboy-Prime attacks Superboy. Superboy calls on his Titans allies to subdue his Kryptonian doppelganger. The misguided Superboy-Prime inadvertently decapitates Pantha and slaughters Baby Wildebeest and Bushido; He then freezes Red Star into crystal ice and rips off Risk’s right arm before being pulled into the Speed Force by the combined might of the super-speedsters. Death of Pantha, Baby Wildebeest and Bushido.
Teen Titans (third series) #38 [2006]: The new story arc “Titans Around the World” begins as the Teen Titans journey into the heart of Russia to meet its greatest super-hero: Red Star! On a quest to locate a former member, the Titans head to Moscow to learn how Red Star has rebuilt his life following Superboy-Prime’s rampage and where they can find their lost friend and ally Raven! First appearance of the “Meta-Men Militia.” Science City revealed to have been destroyed.

A 2006 commission by Andy MacDonald.

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Titans West That Wasn’t


In 1988, Marv Wolfman set the stage for a new Titans West. The New Teen Titans had an adventure with Chris [Dial ‘H’] King and Red Star. At the same time, Sarah Charles relocated to the West Coast, and Vic Stone thought about moving with her. Those three would have comprised the core of the Titans West team.

Marv Wolfman notes, in an interview in Amazing Heroes #135: “I was talking about the West Coast version of the book, that would be in San Francisco. […] DC wants to do a West Coast Teen Titans. In the last run of the book, before I did it, it was Titans East and Titans West. It was a regular feature that pre-dated West Coast Avengers by about ten years. They want to revive that. They asked me if I wanted to write it, or would let someone else write it. Well, I want to control the Titans; I think one of the problems with Spotlight was that I really didn’t do any. I think that’s the reason that led to it eventually being cancelled. There was no sense of urgency to the stories, as good as some of them were. There was no sense of the stories having any effect on the characters. The fact that it lasted 25 issues, I think, is a testimony to the characters themselves- that people still cared about them.”

WOULD-BE TITANS WEST MEMBERSHIP:
Cyborg, Red Star, Chris King, and Thunder & Lightning

“Cyborg will be moving to the West Coast. Red Star, who is a re-named Starfire from Russia, will be a member of it. Chris King, who is one of the Dial “H”for Hero character that I had done, and I just reintroduced him to the regular Titans book, he’ll be a member. So we actually have a character who, every time you see him, will be different. ”

In Comics Scene Magazine #8 [1989], plans for Titans West continued; Marv explains: “We’ll probably do the first issue together whenever that finally comes about. Then, depending on George’s schedule, he may take over the book. I didn’t want another young superhero book,” Wolfman notes. “The concept that I had come up with was more of a rescue group-not another bunch of policemen running out and stopping crime-working out of San Francisco. Just before George returned, I set up the San Francisco branch of S.T.A.R. Labs as a place where they’re testing super-people. We had Red Star and Thunder and Lightning out there, and some other characters that we were going to introduce. When the Titans West, or whatever it’s finally called, is formed, they’ll operate out of that, and there will be positive charter in the helping in disastrous situations.”

“Now that I’m coming back as a writer in my mind after a couple of years where I wasn’t too pleased with everything, I don’t want to overdose on Titans. I want to really enjoy what I’m writing so that each issue, when I sit down, I can approach it at the strongest, as opposed to saying, ‘Oh, no. Another Titans story.’ So, if George decides at some point not to write Titans West, at least it’ll be so completely different from Titans that I wouldn’t be bored.”

The last mention of the series was in Comics Scene Magazine #11 in 1990: “Another Titans project is the often-mentioned Titans West series. Perez says it’s still planned. “One of the stories that Marv discussed was a mystery story in which the Titans are missing. That could lead to the introduction or reintroduction of the Titans West set of characters. Then, I would be the writer of the second Titans book if reader interest warrants a second title. It also depends on whether I have the time to write it, or if I would be better off on another title I could write and draw. ”

Marv didn’t recall why Titans West never took off, but he did remember some other ideas concerning the series: “All I remember on this, because it never got to the second stage, was that I designed the headquarters which was a street in San Francisco that was on a hill side. When you looked at the street from street level the houses all looked ordinary. When you looked at them from above — from the sky — the houses were in a T- shape, that is one row of houses at the head of the block and then a second row going perpendicular in the middle of the top row. So we would have maintained the T-shape headquarters but it would have looked like a typical San Francisco street. The HQ would have been a villain’s nest, built deep into a mountain that the Titans took over.”

Titans West seems to be a team that can never hold itself together—both in print and outside of it.

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A 2010 commission by Declan Shalvey.

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Red Star and Titans Hunt


Titans Hunt

Longtime Titans readers can agree on one thing: “Titans Hunt” was one of the most controversial storylines in the team’s collective history. But many fans still debate the merits of the story itself. Its detractors decry it as a series of cheap stunts, while its supporters applaud the bold changes that reignited the title.

It began with New Titans #71 [1990], in which the Titans were hunted and captured by the Wildebeest Society on the eve of the team’s anniversary celebration. In that same issue’s letter column, editor Jonathan Peterson hinted at the changes in store: “You see, what we all agreed on was the fact that the Titans as a group had become too settled in. Things were far too quiet. So we gleefully decided that it was time to, well how can I say it, “shake things up.” And I mean A LOT. Over the course of the next few months things are not going to be what you expect. I can guarantee it. Over the course of the next few months the Titans Universe will change in ways you never thought we’d dare to change it. You’ll see an entire new evolution in the characters themselves and in the debut of a new team. That’s right–I said a new team. It’s been ten years since the Titans debuted and to celebrate that fact we thought it was time to introduce some all-new team members. Where does that leave us? Well, in the months ahead some Titans will stay…some will go…some will die…some will get marr–oopsl Don’t want to spoil all the surprises.”

And the changes were many. Deathstroke and Steve Dayton galvanized a group of allies to rescue them, revealing Jericho as the mysterious Wildebeest leader. Possessed by evil Azarathian energies, Jericho was slain by his own father in the storyline’s epic finale in New Titans #84.  Along the way, some Titans died (Golden Eagle, Danny Chase and Jericho), new Titans joined (Red Star, Pantha, Phantasm, Baby Wildebeest and the time-tossed Team Titans), several Titans were transformed (leather-clad Raven and robotic Cyborg) and an iconic headquarters was destroyed (Titans Tower).

“One of the problems the Titans have had for many years was playing to the status quo,” recalled writer Marv Wolfman, “We weren’t doing anything. I was bored with it. And so were the readers – we just weren’t pushing.” New editor Jonathan Peterson was instrumental in pushing for changes. When Peterson took over the book, Wolfman says artist Tom Grummett, inker Al Vey and outgoing editor Mike Carlin got together for three days to come up with the current storyline that has them all excited again.

The original Titans Hunt ran from New Titans #71-84, but its reverberations continued up until New Titans #100.

All those New Titans! From DC WHO’S WHO in 1993.


An excerpt from “Jonathan Peterson: New Directions For The New Titans”
[originally published in The Titans Companion, 2005]

Change was in the air for the New Titans in 1990. After having become assistant editor on the book the year before, Jonathan Peterson rose to the rank of editor at the start of the decade and incorporated changes into the series that would have Titans fans talking for years. Using the tenth anniversary of the New Teen Titans as a springboard, the book underwent a new line-up, introduced new characters, and said farewell to old ones. Included in the changes were two spin-off series, Deathstroke and Team Titans, designed to broaden the Titans fan base. No longer active in the industry today, the following interview with Peterson was conducted by Bill Walko in two parts: originally on January 15, 2001, and expanded upon on April 15, 2005.

[…]

TTC: Let’s talk about some of the characters that you introduced to the book. Tell us how you came up with Pantha. It seemed Pantha was originally conceived as the anti-member, a Titan who was morally ambiguous.

JP: Actually, Pantha was Marv’s creation. He created her to stir the pot. Marv is actually the sweetest guy you want to meet, but we all decided the book needed more edge, and Pantha was the first character Marv pitched. She was bitter, sarcastic and hard-edged. I think in a way Pantha became Marv’s mouthpiece of sarcasm. She was fun in that respect, and Tom Grummett then designed her.

Titans became just very collaborative. I remember in an issue of Titans, Mirage had posed as Starfire to get close to Dick, and they – ahem – got together without Dick knowing it was actually Mirage. There was this page that Kevin drew – Kevin with those great [facial] expressions he draws – where we reveal that. Mirage has this very happy look on her face, and Kevin just penciled in Pantha saying, “Dick, you slut!”We all thought that was a funny line, and that was all Kevin.

TTC: What about Pantha’s mysterious origin? Was she planned to be revealed as someone the Titans knew before? Was that worked out?

JP: The idea was supposed to be that she was actually created by the original H.I.V.E. group, and I remember that the character tied back with Deathstroke. He was somehow involved. The H.I.V.E. was responsible for her creation, and at one time she was a real woman. I do remember we had it on the drawing board as something Louise Simonson would write.

There would be a story where she actually turned back into a normal woman. She pulled a Hulk/Bruce Banner, and that would be the shocking reveal of seeing who she really was. I think we toyed with the idea that she was a bookworm librarian and had all this repressed anger, and that all came out as Pantha, and at the end of the story, it would be a “Ben Grimm” type story where she tragically becomes Pantha again. The emotional thing for her would be “Good, I’d rather be Pantha.”

TTC: So was human Pantha someone the Titans knew, or just Deathstroke?

JP: Just Deathstroke, as far as I recall. I do remember planning that with Weezie, and I did challenge her to be creative about it, that maybe Pantha could be some C-level character from Titans history, if that worked. It would give us the excuse to [go],”Ah-ha!” But obviously, that story never came about.

Titans new and old – from DC WHO’S WHO in 1993.

TTC: Then there was Phantasm.

JP: With Phantasm, I remember we experimented with a few different things. In terms of breaking up the group, we wanted to try new things, so Pantha was the sarcastic and bitter one, the anti-Titan. Phantasm gave us this ethereal and ghostly feel. Raven started as that, but then she changed.

TTC: She started as this dark daughter of a demon, but she now wore white and was dealing with emotions.

JP: Yep. I wanted a Titan to represent the Dr. Strange or Dr. Fate type of genre. We knew we wanted someone like that. I wanted a character to represent something mystical.

TTC: Phantasm started as Danny Chase…

JP: Yeah. The idea there was to kill two birds with one stone. I think the original idea behind Danny Chase was this sort of Jonny Quest character, but we decided he either has to die or become cool.

TTC: It also seemed Phantasm was Marv’s sneaky way of getting people to think Danny Chase was cool, without them realizing it was Danny behind the sheet.

JP: That was part of the idea. He had to be tolerable or just get killed off. We sort of did both, and that was also part of the master plan. We knew Raven was going to return as a villain, that she would go dark. We planned on doing that with her for about a year, or a year and a half. Rather than the pseudo-redemption thing yet again, we wanted to make her a core villain. We knew when we killed her off in “Titans Hunt” that she would return at Nightwing and Starfire’s wedding.

A retailer’s promotional mobile featuring the New Titans.

TTC: Let’s talk about the origin of Baby Wildebeest. How did all that fit in with your grand plan?

JP: Baby Wildebeest and the whole Wildebeest Society was sort of a product of reverse-engineering. We came up with that after we decided Jericho would be the leader. Everyone tossed out ideas at that point, so I’m not sure who actually came up with that idea. We just wanted to bring it back to the Wildebeests.

Tom Grummett even loved drawing those guys. I remember the cover to one of the issues that we actually did, which I drew at the “Titans Summit,” [had] the Baby Wildebeest holding up all the machinery. I actually wanted to be a penciller, since I have a very strong art background. In fact, I almost went to college on an art scholarship, but elected to go to film school instead, which is another tangent, but because I do draw, I actually made tons and tons of thumbnails as an editor. Then we did the cover where Baby Wildebeest was running out in traffic. I remember people saying “I can’t believe you did that,” [laughs] but we did make the cover copy humorous.

We wanted Wildebeest to be the super-strength guy in the group, but we would see him grow up. He’d go from a baby to hulking out, and then Marv chimed in and said, “But he wouldn’t necessarily mentally mature.” So we were like “Exactly! He really will be the big dumb brute,” and then Marv came up with the idea that Baby Wildebeest would bond with Pantha because she was the sarcastic one.

TTC: You also brought in Red Star, who was a character that wasn’t used very much. Why did you choose to bring him in?

JP: I wanted a Russian. That was part of my vision to make them more international. I wanted to branch outside of New York. I didn’t wanted them all so whitebread. Louise Simonson latched onto him and developed him some more. We talked about doing a Red Star mini-series. It was an idea to do a sort of Titans International, that they could affect the world outside of Titans Tower, and part of that became giving him a power upgrade. I told Weezie to develop him and do what she wanted.

 

A commission from Dean Trippe.



Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Series, DC Who’s Who Binder Series, The Official Teen Titans Index [published byICG in 1985], The New Titans Sourcebook [Mayfair Games, 1990], DC Universe Role-Playing Games: Sourcebooks and Manuals [ West End Games], DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com.


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author