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Starfired Up

This past summer, DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Jim Lee & Dan Didio issued a letter concerning women in comics. The letter was titled, “We Hear You”. Here’s a snippet: “DC Comics is the home of a pantheon of remarkable, iconic women characters like Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman and Supergirl as well as fan favorite characters like Black Canary, Katana, Mera and Starfire. We’re committed to telling diverse stories with a diverse point of view. We want these adventures to resonate in the real world, reflecting the experiences of our diverse readership. Can we improve on that? We always can—and aim to.”

But RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1 and CATWOMAN #1 caused quite a stir last week, with various readers and fans  dismayed by the depictions of Starfire and Catwoman in the DCnU. And now DC is hearing from them….

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It propelled Comic Alliance’s Laura Hudson to write a spectacular article about “The Big Sexy Problem With Super-heroines And Their Liberated Sexuality.” All comic fans should read it!

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Author Michele Lee has the most eloquent response so far to DC Comics’ “sexed up” version of Starfire, the voluptuous alien member of the Teen Titans. Instead of ranting about the changes herself, Lee asked her seven-year-old daughter what she thought. The results are thought-provoking.

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Guest columnist Andrew Wheeler wrote a piece from Bleeding Cool: “But it’s not the sole responsibility of women to somehow get themselves hired so they can write books that their nieces might buy. Men – yes, even straight ones – will have to make an actual effort to establish that diverse landscape in which some of the female characters do wear pants for 20 whole pages. The problem DC has right now is that too many of their creators decided that their book was going to be the one targeted to that all-important horny adolescent boys niche, and someone else could deal with stuff like ‘women’. Somehow the reboot seems to have set DC back about twenty years.” Read it here!

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Blogger Ms. Snarky wrote her own essay: “But what a lot of the commenters on Red Hood and the Outlaws seem to be forgetting is that Starfire is not a real person who made the choice to have lots of anonymous sex on her own. She is not a “sexually liberated woman.” She’s a character, who was written by a person – specifically, a man. Starfire’s preening in a bikini and talking about how she wants to have sex with people whose names she won’t even remember is not about celebrating the sexually-liberated woman of the Twenty-First Century, throwing off the shackles of male oppression. It’s about giving men the chance to fantasize about having a hot chick with big boobs want to do them without any consequences. Don’t believe me? Look at the responses to Starfire’s “liberated sexuality” by the male characters in the comic. They ogle her and they discuss their own sexual conquests of her. It’s not about Starfire and her adult choices regarding sex. It’s about male fantasy.” Read it all here!

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Even webcomics got into the act. This is from the quite-funny “Shortpacked”:

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Robot 6 reported: “While this response by “monkeyscandance” (aka Boa) to last week’s controversy about the depiction of Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 certainly won’t be the final word on the subject, it probably should be — because the cartoon’s terrific. The artist zeroes in on the original request for Starfire to be clad in a semi-transparent bikini, to hilarious results. See the full cartoon below, and check out more of the artist’s work on DeviantArt.”

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Bleeding Cool provided a little behind the scenes sneak peek, revealing that some of these Starfire issues were discussed before the book saw print: “There were a handful of staff, mostly other women, who believed the writer was trying to equate being a strong woman with being, frankly, a slut. No one said that the writer was misogynistic, just that perhaps he was writing from a male perspective. It was firmly suggested to him that he could accentuate the character’s past as a sex slave. And that this might be an explanation for her sexuality, that she was acting out in her new life.”

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Still, plenty of fans didn’t have a problem with this issue is you comb through feedback on Facebook. Some quotables like, “Let’s blow it up, people!!! Show CBR where they can stick that review!” and “really loved it! don’t see why starfire has to act like how the reviewers think she should act. she’s not even supposed to be human. i hope scott lobdell continues to write it as he intended.” and “A lot of the ACTUAL reviews I’ve read have had the common sense to only briefly review the ‘starfire nonsense’, which, in fact, DOES actually matter to some readers….”

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And this column on PanelsonPages.com offers and alternative viewpoint: “That is what’s happening here. Catwoman and Starfire are being labled as “sluts” because they’re women who go after what they want. Sex is only okay if it’s a feminist-approved “certain type of sex”. It doesn’t seem as though we’re “supporting the right of women to embrace and act upon their sexual desires” at all.” Read the whole article for yourself.

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All in all, it’s been quite a week for Starfire!

 


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


2 Comments

  1. avatar

    Thanks for the collection, Nightwing (I am always confused as to what to refer to you as since I follow you both here and at Hero Biz) While I had seen the Shortpacked one (SP is on my daily read list) I had not seen the DA one (because I left Deviant art in a snit over a year ago and have not left back.)

    All in All, I think that the SP article hits it on the head. it turns off fans looking for something specific, and may well just drive them away from print comics all together. (I actually did a turn on this topic of expectations versus realities a few months ago in a fiction I wrote, but not quite with the explosive results here for the character)

    As to the slut issue, I hold to a discussion that I’d had over on Google Plus ( why aren’t you on there yet?;) ) That one or two “sexually liberated women amongst a panel of diverse female characters would be fine, and in fact demographically accurate.” But this far, I have yet to see that diversity. So far in all the books I have read, the women characters have either been fairly one dimensional, or even background fodder, or falling into the catwoman/starfire mold. Even in Superboy #1, where two of the three primary characters are women, there’s a distinct lack of personality to both my fave Rose Wilson and “Red” Fairchild.

    If the only way to give women characters personality in DC is to have them screw anything with (or even without) a Y chromosome, it’s no wonder people are up in arms.

  2. avatar

    To be honest, my biggest issue with the Outlaws version of Starfire is that personality and character is the polar opposite of the Starfire from the New Teen Titans.

    They might as well have just made a new Tamaranian character named Bambiand’r.

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