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The Untold Truth Of Supervillain Blackfire

DC Comics' Blackfire, born Princess Komand'r of Tamaran, is as domineeringly evil as her name suggests. Beast Boy puts it best in 1982's Tales of the New Teen Titans #4, when he says Starfire's elder sister sounds "like Lucrezia Borgia and Darth Vader rolled up into one." She's gleefully sadistic, utterly obsessed with power, and ceaselessly savage to her hapless sibling. Even as a child, Blackfire was determined to spoil Starfire's good time. A flashback follows Beast Boy's comparison, implying Blackfire murdered Starfire's beloved pet before either of them were even knee-high to their parents. She's not just someone who commits evil acts — she's someone who absolutely relishes them.

As a key part of Starfire's backstory and her arch-nemesis, Blackfire has made the jump to TV in multiple Teen Titans properties, including 2003's Teen Titans, 2013's Teen Titans Go!, and 2018's Titans, the latter being the only live-action series. Though this has brought the character quite a bit of exposure, there's still plenty most fans don't know about Tamaran's least favorite daughter. We're here to delve into the details, secrets, and obscurities of Blackfire's long and twisted history, one sisterly betrayal at a time.

Blackfire and Starfire actually have another sibling

Blackfire and Starfire are often portrayed as two sides of the same alien coin. Where Starfire is vivacious, optimistic, and open-hearted, Blackfire is duplicitous, cruel, and cunning. There are virtually no stories featuring Blackfire in which this dichotomy isn't present, in the comics or elsewhere. She is utterly defined in opposition to her cheerful, heroic, widely beloved sister. This tension is one of the longest-running elements of Teen Titans storytelling.

But these sisters are not, in fact, a perfect dyad. Blackfire and Starfire have a younger brother named Ryand'r. Ryand'r has his roots in the 1980s New Teen Titans series, just like Blackfire and Starfire. He made his debut in 1982's Tales of the New Teen Titans #4, a deep-dive into Starfire's backstory. Yet he's considerably less famous than his elder sisters, only occasionally showing up in stories alongside them. Just one screen adaptation sort of includes him ... and barely at that. The 2003 Teen Titans cartoon exiled him to a single issue of its tie-in comic

This is a shame, as Ryand'r actually has a pretty neat comics career. He's a long-running member of the Omega Men (a band of intergalactic freedom fighters), has a nerdy passion of Earth TV, and most recently, he planted a very memorable kiss on Supergirl. Perhaps the future will offer fans more Ryand'r content — if only to give Starfire a break from being the sole target of Blackfire's rage.

Blackfire might not have been born evil

Blackfire's evil is depicted as an essential part of her being. Glimpses of her childhood reveal a soul already blackened by bloodlust. In Tales of the New Teen Titans #4, Starfire recalls how a young Blackfire relished the bloodiest aspects of the sisters' time training with the warlords of Okaara. Furthermore, Blackfire went on to sell Tamaran out to the Citadel Empire and force Starfire into slavery. As one of the most consistent elements of Blackfire's character is how enormously she enjoys any opportunity to see Starfire in pain, a fan could be forgiven for thinking she was simply born bad.

That might very well be the truth. But Blackfire's twisted nature could also be a case of nurture over nature. Blackfire endured a mysteriously illness in her infancy, which left her without the ability to fly. Tamaraneans are a passionate people, and their vibrant nature is often depicted as being synonymous with flight. In the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, Starfire describes the act as one of "unbridled joy." Thus disabled, Blackfire lost her status as heir to the throne, making Starfire the crown princess. Though none of this excuses Blackfire's later actions, it's not a stretch to assume this very public humiliation at an extremely formative age mightve played a role in curdling her spirit. Could Blackfire have been turned to the light had her family embraced her, illness and all? We'll never know, but it doesn't seem impossible.

She once imprisoned her own goddess

Tamaraneans have a unique religion, as their deity is provably, tangibly real. In fact, they even known where she lives. Their goddess, the mysterious X'hal, dwells on Okaara, the same planet Blackfire and Starfire are sent to train on in their youth. If her name sounds familiar, there's a reason. In the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, Starfire often uses her goddess' name as an exclamation. 

X'hal is, in fact, an ancient inhabitant of the Vegan star system, the same place where Tamaran spins. As 1987's History of the DC Universe #1 details, she was once an ordinary Okaaran, whom the Psions — a reptilian race — subjected to horrific experiments. Eventually, these violations transformed her into a being of cosmic energy, loosed from her mortal body. Becoming a goddess doesn't make things better for X'hal, unfortunately, especially once she ends up in Blackfire's clutches. That's right. Blackfire is so bad that she kidnaps her own goddess. 

X'hal is as feared as she is worshipped, which Blackfire well knows. Thus, as she explains to the Citadelian Lord Damyn in 1982's New Teen Titans #25, she makes for powerful blackmail material. It's truly something to see Blackfire threaten to "unleash X'hal on an unsuspecting galaxy," as though X'hal is a rabid bear and not a deity Blackfire that desperately invokes later on, at her lowest point, in 1986's New Teen Titans #16. But hey, power is power in Blackfire's eyes, even if it comes from a shocking act of blasphemy.

Teen Titans Go! serves Blackfire her just desserts

For all the nasty, underhanded, and bloodthirsty acts she commits, Blackfire certainly gets away with a lot. Sure, she and Starfire have engaged in some pretty brutal battles over the years, but lots of them end in compromise. Plus, given the never-ending nature of comics, Blackfire always lives to sin another day. These occasions are usually pretty gutting for Starfire. Oftentimes, she's fighting for the future of her planet, teammates, and/or family. The fact that Blackfire's punishment isn't ever permanent means Starfire never gets to heave a final, cathartic sigh of relief. So it goes in comics. At least she has lots of superhero friends who can relate.

Yet there is one canon in which Blackfire truly gets her comeuppance – the ever wacky, often violent, always hilarious Teen Titans Go! Not one but two episodes of this series conclude with utterly devastating Blackfire beat-downs, in which Starfire fully steps into her sisterly rage. In "Mr. Butt," Blackfire sows the seeds of her own destruction when she tricks Starfire into serving her prison sentence ... then suffers an utterly insane drubbing from a newly prison-buff Starfire. In "Girls Night In," Blackfire attempts to invade Earth, only to be violently rebuked by Starfire and her closest female friends. Only in the ultra-goofy and continuity-casual world of Teen Titans Go! can Blackfire be so soundly thrashed — not to mention so comedically.

Blackfire is probably one of DC's greatest military strategists

DC Comics has created plenty of brilliant military minds over the decades. General Immortus has led troops for literally thousands of years. Kate Kane puts the tactics she learned at West Point to spectacular use as Batwoman. General Zod is a tactical genius on multiple planets. You might not immediately think to put Blackfire within these ranks, but spend enough time with her, and you start to realize she might just be one of DC's greatest military strategists.

Let's examine the evidence. First off, when the Citadel attacked Tamaran in Starfire's youth, Blackfire appeared to have attained a tremendously high rank within their world. Granted, she had incredibly useful information to divulge, but that doesn't guarantee the sort of longevity she enjoys at the top, especially given the tender age at which she first joined the Citadel. Furthermore, 1986's New Teen Titans #16 sees her rise from her lowest-ever point — blind, battered, and alone — to power once again through genuine appeals to her countrymen. Eventually, she commands a passionate army strong enough to seize control of Tamaran. 

Blackfire's skill also transcends medium. In the Teen Titans episode "Betrothed," she's revealed to have become Grand Ruler of Tamaran after breaking out of intergalactic jail and taking over the planet "for kicks." So long as Blackfire is alive, she's able to play the game of war with terrifying skill — a fact Starfire learns at her peril.

She accidentally gave Starfire her starbolts

As Tamaraneans, Blackfire and Starfire were born with fabulous superpowers. They boast tremendous strength, durability, vision, and the ability to fly, though an illness stole this last power away from Blackfire in her youth. But what of the sisters' signature starbolts? Those explosive blasts of energy are unique to the princesses, in fact ... and they're the result of Blackfire's scheming.

As depicted in Tales of the New Teen Titans #4, after multiple years as a slave, Starfire finally snapped and killed her master. Blackfire sneeringly condemned her to death, but before an execution could take place, the Psions attacked. A cold, science-minded race, the Psions saw major potential for experimentation in the captured sisters. Thus, Blackfire and Starfire were strapped into complicated machinery and overloaded with solar energy. Luckily, a Citadel attack interrupted the experiment, freeing Starfire from her restraints. She quickly discovered that she was now able to gather glowing energy in her hands and discharge it in dazzling blasts. 

Ever the good girl, Starfire freed her sister ... and immediately discovered Blackfire had also developed this power when she used it to attack her rescuer. Still, the egg was on Blackfire's face in this situation. If she hadn't enslaved her sister and sided with the Citadel, Starfire never would have ended up with the power that defines her as a do-gooder.

Meet Blackfire's husband and their four horrible children

You might know about the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, and you might also know about the 2013 Teen Titans Go! cartoon, but do you know about the 2011 New Teen Titans cartoon? It's understandable if you haven't. New Teen Titans was a series of animated shorts that existed entirely within Cartoon Network's short-lived DC Nation programming block, though they have enjoyed a solid afterlife on YouTube. In these shorts, the (adorably caricatured) 2003 Titans engage in goofy skits that poke fun at themselves, the events of their series, and the DC universe in general.

One New Teen Titans short, "Blackfire's Babysitter," has the distinction of featuring what might just be the weirdest Blackfire incarnation ever. Here, Blackfire is married to Glgrdsklechhh, the sentient mass of green jelly she attempted to marry Starfire off to in the Teen Titans episode "Betrothed." After Starfire managed to avoid that fate, Blackfire was apparently forced to take her place, and, most jarringly, she's since borne four sticky, amorphous children. Though she's supposedly invited Starfire over to babysit, Blackfire's really looking to disguise herself as her sister and take her place on Earth. Luckily, Blackfire's "horrible, horrible babies" take a shine to their Auntie Starfire, as they beat the stuffing out of their own mom after she admits to her scheme.

That one time Blackfire was a good sister

In many incarnations, Starfire never quite manages to let her hopes of sisterly reconciliation die. When she frees herself from the Psions' experiment, she frees Blackfire, as well, despite their miserable history. In the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, she tells Blackfire it was "still very nice to see [her]," even though Blackfire just attempted to frame her for her own crimes. But in one canon, Starfire actually manages to get the sisterly bonding she so craves — an achievement that Blackfire, against all odds, also ends up enjoying.

This goes down in the DC Super Hero Girls cartoon, in which Starfire and Blackfire are students attending rival schools — squeaky-clean Super Hero High and the considerably more supervillainish Korugar Academy, respectively. Though Blackfire is prickly and condescending (she doesn't approve of her sister cavorting with non-superpowered heroes like Batgirl), she ultimately loves her sister and fights by her side when the going gets tough. In "Day of Fun-Ship," she and Starfire even enjoy a girls' day out together ... though Blackfire does, admittedly, get a whole lot more into it when they get the chance to battle King Shark. Even in the fluffiest realms of G-rated superheroics, some things never change.

The New 52 brings out Blackfire's soft side

Superhero comics change with the times, but certain things are eternal. Superman is from Krypton, the death of Bruce Wayne's parents transforms him into Batman, and Blackfire is bad guy. But in fact, DC's 2011 New 52 reboot, which reimagined the entire DC universe, plucked Blackfire from the ranks of evil and deposited her squarely on the side of the angels.

Released in 2012, Red Hood and the Outlaws #11 revealed Starfire's New 52-ized origin. She was sold into slavery, as she was in the old days, but that degradation followed a childhood of sisterly love. Here, Blackfire was depicted as having been forced to assume the throne at a tender age. Thus, she found herself tragically forced to sell her sister off for peace. However, Starfire and Blackfire were tearfully reunited in the midst of an attack on Tamaran, and after their battle was won, Blackfire asked Starfire to remain on Tamaran and rule by her side. Starfire refused, as Earth had become the place her heart resided, a fact Blackfire accepted with grace. 

This wasn't just a Blackfire on decent terms with her sister. This was a Blackfire who derived earnest, open-hearted joy from her sister's happiness. Ultimately, this characterization didn't last, as is so often the case in comics. But in the annals of Blackfire's history, it certainly stands out.

Blackfire might actually be an excellent ruler

Blackfire is vicious, but believe it or not, she might not actually be a terrible ruler. In fact, one might even go so far as to call her a thoughtful wielder of power.

In 1986's New Teen Titans #16, Blackfire launches a full-scale attack on Tamaran's capital city. She isn't leading a horde of enslaved soldiers, however. Instead, she's marching beside thousands who believe in her cause. As it turns out, her father, King Myand'r, has plenty of critics. Many Tamaraneans believe he's led his planet into complacent softness. Moreover, once she takes power, Blackfire is eager to rule wisely. During her reign, she spurns a sycophant and reroutes supplies to a needy region. She also reflects upon how her "lust for power" has vanished, replaced by her satisfaction in the progress she has made. Eventually, Myand'r himself agrees to let Blackfire continue to rule, albeit with her family present to act as council.

None of this is to say that Blackfire has lost her mean streak. But as it turns out, she's remarkably good at not letting it control her when her citizens' lives are on the line. By the end of this story arc, it's hard not to see Starfire as somewhat blind in her single-minded desire to overthrow Blackfire, especially when her own family admits that the people aren't wrong to prefer Blackfire in charge.

Blackfire, ally of Darkseid

Justice League Odyssey tells a strange, star-spanning story involving mysterious regions of space, ancient prophecies, and a very unlikely Justice League splinter group that includes Starfire, Cyborg, Azrael, and Jessica Cruz, among others. And among this series' many out-there details is a whole new role for Blackfire, as queen of Tamaran and ally to Darkseid.

Granted, Darkseid ends up working with a whole lot of people he's never been on good terms (or any terms) with in this series. Moreover, Blackfire ends up dissatisfied with their partnership pretty quickly, and she ultimately fights beside her sister — an anomaly unto itself. But still, Justice League Odyssey opens up a whole new world of storytelling for Tamaran's least favorite princess. 

Justice League Odyssey #4 reveals Blackfire as "queen of ruins," with Tamaran having been brutalized in the 2018 Justice League: No Justice event. She and Darkseid end up cutting a deal soon after. She gives him something he wants in Tamaran's royal tombs, and he promises to leave her and the planet she rules alone. What's more, when Darkseid retrieves the mysterious "Other Box" from the tombs, he reveals that he hid it himself, many years ago. Thus, this series doesn't just put Blackfire in contact with one of the biggest baddies in the DC universe — it brings Tamaran itself much closer to Darkseid's Apokolyptian corner of the canon. Fingers crossed that this leads to a butt-kicking Blackfire-Female Furies team-up.