This article contains Titans spoilers.
Titans Episode 4
As the team continues to grow, Titans episode 4, “Blackfire,” re-introduces us to Starfire’s sister. If you’ve watched the previous season of Titans then you’ll remember her as the epically stylish and nefarious Queen of Tamaran.
While Blackfire (Damaris Lewis) was less of a present threat in season two, now she’s on Earth and, as we learn this week this week, has been behind Starfire’s escalating and ever more violent visions. What she’d actually been experiencing were psychic messages from her sister, who was begging for her help as she had been captured by the US government and imprisoned deep underground. It’s a big surprise as the end of last season saw Blackfire hit Earth with big plans of revenge, but here we see her as a helpless victim and one who has to reach out to the woman she came to conquer for assistance.
It was an emotional episode for Starfire who has to help the sister she left behind, even though Blackfire killed their parents and usurped their reign. But it’s also a wake up call for the Princess of Tamaran, who has to come to terms with her own role in her sister’s dysfunction and crimes. In the end, Gar and Koriand’r do save Blackfire, which means she’s likely going to become a regular.
So we’re here to give you the lowdown on Blackfire, who’s not only an original New Teen Titans character but a DC stalwart has also starred in a ton of your fave animated adventures. Get ready to get familiar with TV’s newest Titan.
The Origins of Blackfire
Marv Wolfman and George Pérez already shook up the DC Universe with their New Teen Titans series when they introduced Blackfire in their 22nd issue. Unlike the more grounded and emotionally driven human stories which defined much of what made New Teen Titans so popular, the saga of Blackfire and Starfire threw the Titans into a hard sci-fi adventure that pitted them against the eldest child of Tamaran.
Princess Komand’r made an indelible imprint when she appeared on the final pages of New Teen Titans #22 with a memorable splash page showcasing the alien queen as she declared, “Her sister shall be her slayer!”
But why does she hate Starfire so deeply? Well, it’s a particularly tragic story and most tragic of all it’s a villain origin that isn’t actually Blackfire’s fault at all. In fact she was as much of a victim as the rest of Tamaran.
In the DC Universe, the Citadel Empire is one of the most feared foes in the galaxy, and they proved why on the day that Komand’r was born. The Empire attacked Tamaran and killed thousands of its citizens and then to make things worse–and to create one of DC’s most powerful villains–they claim to have done it in the name of the newborn princess. While the blame for that obviously does not lay at the feet of a newborn babe, it began a drastically tragic relationship with her home nation that never recovered.
Rejected by her own people after an illness that stopped her gaining the powers of flight and propulsion that Tamaraneans are known for, Blackfire was passed over for her rightful place as the heir to the planet’s throne. Of course, we all know who gained that seat: Koriand’r.
Blackfire and Starfire
That fateful choice sparked a sibling rivalry that would echo through the galaxy. While Starfire was raised to become the next ruler of Tamaran, Blackfire struggled to come to terms with her new place in the world, ultimately attempting to kill her younger sister during routine training. It was here that she was finally expelled from Tamaran and became a powerful member of the Citadel.
Soon Blackfire led an invasion, successfully taking over her home planet and imprisoning her sister as well as banning her from ever returning to Tamaran. During her imprisonment, Starfire was abused and assaulted, eventually killing one of her attackers. Just as it seemed the end might be near for her as Komand’r planned her execution, the sisters were kidnapped and experimented on by the aliens known as Psions. It was a blessing in disguise, though, as Kori used her new status quo to escape, eventually landing on Earth and teaming up with the heroes who would become the Teen Titans.
Their story didn’t end there. After she exploded onto the pages of New Teen Titans, Blackfire quickly established herself as a fearsome and canny foe for Starfire. Trapping her in a cosmic prison, she mentally tortured her sister before revealing her true plan: to kill their parents and destroy Tamaran.
The version of Blackfire that we’re meeting in Titans has already achieved that dastardly dream, but in the comics she’s defeated after she and Starfire have a fight to the death on Tamaran. Starfire overpowers her as Blackfire boils herself to death in a waterfall while trying to defeat her younger sister. The epic battle also led to the introduction of their younger brother, Wildfire, who it turns out was on their home planet all along with Koriand’r’s still alive parents. While she wants to stay, they force her to leave as they know the Citadel will attack again soon and she’s safer on Earth with the Titans.
Blackfire Beyond the New Teen Titans
Shockingly, Blackfire survived her near death experience and continued her role as a would be conqueror. She never forgave the Titans for her defeat and attempted to defeat them by pitting them against each other. Blackfire’s campaign against her sister and for ultimate power has rarely ceased and, though she didn’t have too many appearances in the classic comics over the years, she was redefined in the New 52 era.
Most recently, Blackfire was the primary antagonist in the second arc of the cosmic Justice League Odyssey series. She battled Darkseid, Starfire, and co., even commanding her army against the unusual allies. However, in Justice League Odyssey #14 Komand’r eventually became an official member of the reconfigured team under the leadership of Jessica Cruz, who Queen Blackfire came to greatly admire in their battle against Darkseid.
Blackfire in Other Media
One of the most interesting aspects of Blackfire’s history is her prevalence in DC’s animated adaptations. While she’s not the most well known of DC’s rogues, she has had key roles in shows like Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go!, and DC Super Hero Girls. In each of them Komand’r appears as an antagonist to Starfire. There’s something about that sibling rivalry that inspires creators to keep revisiting their relationship. It also helps that she’s a huge rogue for the Titans as a whole and reinforces the more cosmic aspects of their adventures.
In Teen Titans, the elder sister of Starfire appears at first as an ally before revealing herself as an antagonist with a plan to frame Koriand’r for her own sins. During Teen Titans Go!, the more comedic show sets her up as a sometimes ally, most times antagonist, though even her betrayals are played for laughs. DC Super Hero Girls offers up the most kind version of the character, more like an annoying and sometimes cruel elder sister than a true villain. That’s also continued in DC Super Hero Girls: Intergalactic Games, which actually sees Blackfire team up with her sister to help save the day… which we could see in Titans.
She’s a character so key to Starfire that even when she doesn’t appear she’s still referenced in animated DC movies like Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. It’s a testament to how much of a key part of her sister’s lore and background Blackfire is. That’s why her arrival as a main cast member in Titans means Starfire will definitely be taking center stage as we move towards the middle of the new season.
What’s Next for Blackfire on Titans?
Titans has already proven that it’s a show about family. From the found family setup that it’s built around to the exploration of how our parents define us through the Robins and Batman as well as Gar and his father, the superhero show has a lot of interest in the concept of (Bat)families and what they mean. It’s why Blackfire’s arrival makes so much sense. Not only is she the only surviving member of Starfire’s family in this world, but she’s going to shine a light on the past that Starfire has tried so desperately to forget.
Like the rest of the series so far, there are layers to both characters, with no clear delineation between good and evil. Instead, we get a Blackfire who was driven to her actions by abuse and neglect, and Starfire has to deal with her complicity in those actions that made her sister feel so isolated and alone.
But there’s hope. The fact we see Starfire go against the US government to save her sister from a fate worse than death means we’ll likely see them attempt to reconnect and rebuild the trust they’ve lost. We may even see them fight alongside each other, but the big overarching question will be whether this is all part of Blackfire’s larger scheme to get vengeance on her sister. If not we could see another unexpected member of the Titans team… and if it is then we’ll likely see a war of intergalactic proportions.
Titans drops new episodes on HBO Max every Thursday.