Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes: The Controversy of Starfire

As I mentioned in my last post I was going to be spending some time talking about Red Hood and the Outlaws this time around, because there's a lot that needs to be said about it (a lot of which that has already been said by the fine people at Comics Alliance and various other places of the internet but they're not me so I'm going to give you my two cents.) During the third week of the DC reboots Red Hood and the Outlaws and Catwoman both got some pretty big backlash from the fans after the very sexualized depictions of the female characters Catwoman and Starfire. Now, I didn't read Catwoman, frankly the character has always danced on a fine line that teetered on S&M (even before Halley Berry) but I did however have the displeasure of reading Red Hood and the Outlaws and I was just appalled by it.

I'm someone who believes sex has it's place in comics, (I happen to quite fond of Emma Frost after all) but this new depiction of Starfire as this wears next to nothing will have meaningless sex with anybody is a total 180 from the previously established fan favorite of The New Teen Titans. Mind you, Starfire has always been a bit promiscuous, wearing skimpy costumes and quick to get Dick (Grayson) in bed but what made it different then, what makes all sex in comics different, was that it wasn't void of all emotion or reason. The old Starfire (from my understanding of the New Teen Titans comics that I read pre reboot) was a character who's actions are driven mainly by her emotions but here she's just a cold hard sexbot looking for dick (not Grayson)
And here's the thing DC, it doesn't even have to be emotional Sex, it just has to have a reason. Take Daken: Dark Wolverine for example; Daken, the son of Wolverine (long story) with pheromone manipulation being one of his powers will on a regular basis will have sex with Woman and Men for personal gain, gathering information, getting closer to the enemy, whatever it takes to reach his target and achieve his goals. Is it without emotions, sure but is it with reason, you bet it is, where as this thing with Starfire just feels completely unnatural and put in there solely for the purpose of having edgy sex in a comic.

With this reboot DC is trying to bring in new readers into comics but they fail to realize just how damaging this is to achieve that. Take people my age, there is a whole generation of people in my age group who grew up while the Teen Titans animated TV show was on and have fond memories of it, and surprise, that show had a very emotionally driven Starfire. Now imagine one of those kids, now in their late teens to early 20's picking up that first issue of Red Hood because of their fond memories of that show. This isn't the character they grew up with that they love!

I'm not going to get into what's wrong with the art for this issue with Starfire because that's not a new issue, but this single comic has gotten a lot of attention on the internet for various reasons, so much so that DC has made a statement on their official Twitter account saying;

"We've heard what's being said about Starfire today and we appreciate the dialogue on this topic. We encourage people to pay attention to the ratings when picking out any books to read themselves or for their children."

Now this response of theirs is more than likely referring to the blog post by a mother about the reaction of her 7 year old daughter to the new Starfire (which you can read here http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/27/starfire-little-girl-teen-titans/ ) But DC has addressed the problem without actually addressing the problem. These are grown men and women who have a problem with how this character is now being depicted! Just because I comic has the potential to have racier material doesn't mean people are going to like it when it's done in the most absurd way possible. And for the record, the rating that DC gave for Red Hood and the Outlaws is "T" as in Teens, that can range anywhere between 13 to 19, not terribly appropriate if you ask me, cause that's what America's youth needs, to know just how cool and bad ass it is to have meaningless sex with women who can't remember their past. Though to be fair it appears that it's not just Women that DC are objectifying with this comic just look at this portion of the cover of Red Hood #2.

As funny and awkward looking as that is I give this comic less than a year before cancellation.


  1. I've said it before, but using a character in an all-ages context(in this case, the popular kids cartoon) then in an adult context the next is harmful to young readers.

    I agree there is a place for sex in comics, as there is a place for sex in other mediums (painting, photography, film)...but handled this way is a bait and switch.

    Sad for me b/c I really liked the characterizations of Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg in the cartoon.