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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Comics: The Starfire Controversy [from a man's point of view]

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 Posted by Unknown , , , , , , , No comments


The comic community has been debating about the representation of females in comics for as long as I can remember, but with September's relaunch of the DC Universe, the arguing has reached a level that is impossible to drown it out due to images like the one above. If you're not familiar, this character is Starfire. She is an alien from space who possesses super strength, flight, and energy projectiles. She used to look like this:


Although she's always been a seductive character, she still had a personality and became incredibly popular with the 2003 cartoon Teen Titans. However, with the reboot, DC Comics has decided to make her more sexually liberated. From what I can only assume, they wanted Starfire to be more of a "Samantha" character rather than a "Charlotte" [Sex and the City reference]. Unfortunately, DC's attempt at doing this has sparked a huge fire within the comics world because there's a very big difference between being sexually aware/open/liberated and being a whore from a porn that teenage boys are watching behind closed doors:


As any educated reader can see, this isn't the sexual liberation that DC might have championed. Instead, the character comes off as one of those girls out of porn that happens to find a penis in their pizza and proceeds to blow the guy rather than slam the box on the delivery man's dick and pepper spray the shit out of him. Starfire isn't a genuine representation of anything other than the fantasies of DC's perceived target audience.

What DC forgot, though, was that when you parade your comic book relaunch so that new readers can sink their teeth into some of the most iconic characters of the modern age, anyone will read it including seven year old girls.

So what does this man think? I think Starfire, at this point in time, is a cheap way to get the male readers to come back for more. In the same way that Power Girl might have been gotten readers for her obscenely large breasts and money shots, Starfire will easily do the same. But what I hope is that Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort can do what Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner were able to do. Take an obviously sexual character, give her depth, and make her into strong, honest representations of a certain segment of women.

As it stands, however, Starfire isn't the ballsy character that Kim Catrall played on Sex and the City [if that's what Lobdell, Didio, Johns, and Lee were going for], and if they were going for just a "modern" female voice in a 30 year old character, they failed at that too. Because this first issue doesn't present even a shred of dignity in Starfire. She isn't someone that you can commend for her openness. She isn't someone you want to be. And really, she isn't even a hero. She's a one dimensional character that doesn't provide anything to the story [or the changing landscape of minority representation in comics]. All we're left with is a comic that we'll have to hide from our daughters and sons for two very different reasons.

[Read Laura Hudson's post at ComicsAlliance for a much more articulate critique]