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The Big Sexy Problem With Starfire

This week, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1 introduced readers to a rebooted version of Starfire – and many longtime Titans fans were dismayed at what they found.

In the issue, Jason Todd and Roy Harper get a lot of the attention, establishing¬† a bit of of an action-buddy-movie vibe. Starfire’s along for the ride, but she’s mostly taking orders from Jason. Look, I don’t mind Starfire being sexually liberated and even asking Roy to sleep with her. The Tamaraneans were always established as passionate people, and it’s almost ridiculous that Starfire’s ONLY comic book relationship is Dick Grayson. I’d imagine she’d be enjoying sexual relations with a number of men.

But I think this Kory (or Kori, as they now call her) is not represented well here. The short-term memory thing combined with her desire to have sex with any man in her orbit… she comes off like a space bimbo, rather than a passionate warrior.

Writers make two mistakes with Starfire:
1. They define her by her relationship with Dick Grayson
2. They still make her ridiculously naive and unaculturated to Earth

Here’s the key word to describe Starfire: “passionate.”


Everything she does and feels is dialed up to 11. She loves as fiercely as she fights. Her passion makes her impulsive (but not stupid!). She’s got a huge heart. And she’s one of the first to stand up for the downtrodden and indefensible. And it’s not that she doesn’t understand earth culture – it just doesn’t make sense to her. Our laws and hang-ups are convoluted to her. She sees things as pretty black and white. THAT’s Starfire.

She SHOULD be a main DC female character, in the same way Storm has become an A-list Marvel character. She’s got recognizability with the cartoon, and she’s been a “fan favorite” for years. She’s also visually striking, with very visual powers. It’s easy to distill who she is, and her personality really stands out.

This issue, as well as CATWOMAN #1, 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!

Here’s a sample: “Incidentally, while Starfire here seems to want casual sex with people whose names she can’t remember that she says must be divorced from emotion, that’s very much a departure from her previous incarnation, were she came from a culture that was primarily about love, not being available for joyless hookups with random dudes:”

 

Laura continues: “But the problem isn’t Star Sapphire. Or Catwoman. Or Starfire. Or Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny on the Justice League satellite or that stupid rape backstory Kevin Smith gave Black Cat or the time Green Lantern’s girlfriend got murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator. The problem is all of it together, and how it becomes so pervasive both narratively and visually that each of these things stops existing as an individual instance to be analyzed in a vacuum and becomes a pattern of behavior whose net effect is totally repellent to me. As an anomaly, maybe Starfire could be funny, the way the big-breasted, over-sexed Fritz (who even got her own porno comic, Birdland, which is pretty good if you’re into that) is often funny in Love and Rockets, mostly because the series is already packed full of incredibly diverse, fully-realized female characters. But as the 5,000th example of a superhero comic presenting female sexuality in tone-deaf ways, it’s just depressing.”

 

Previously, Scott Lobdell described Starfire in an with CBR: “Similarly, there is a reason why Kory wakes up and goes to bed with a smile on her face, and it isn’t because she’s a bimbo. It is because she has survived the worst that the universe could throw at her, and she is acutely aware of that. She doesn’t just love Earth, she loves life and she loves freedom in a way that those of us who’ve never had it taken away could never hope to understand.”

 

That sounds more in line with the Starfire we know and love. Let’s hope we see more of her in future issues!


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


5 Comments

  1. avatar

    Very well put by both you and Miss Hudson. While one promiscuous character amidst a cavalcade of well developed assorted women is not a problem, and in fact would be considered an accurate presentation; turning every woman into either a hyper-monogamous wasp or a hyper-liberated bed bug is a disservice to the characters and the audience. A female friend of mine literally just asked me if “every DC writer was male” over this particular issue.

    So, so far in the new, more inclusive, more dynamic DC, we have A.) no fat chicks (amanda waller) B.) no gimps (barbara gordon) and C.) slut = empowered (starfire and catwoman)

    Tell me again where the dynamic, invigorating and uplifting female and minority characters are?

  2. avatar

    I am very disappointed about how KorY was represented on the first issue. I hope that Mr. Lobdell has plans to fix it!

  3. avatar

    As I said before, Lobdell dropped the ball with this book. I hate what he did with Starfire, and as a result, I’m not going to pick up issue 2. This isn’t how you write a strong female character. This is how you write a 1 Dimensional slut character who’s purpose is to solely titillate the male readers.

    DC says they want to draw in new readers, including female readers. Making one of the most sweet, emotionally driven, but strong and powerful characters ever created in the Titans Mythology and turning her into… THIS, does not accomplish that. This is how you further alienate female readers, who think that super-hero comics do nothing but objectify woman for the sake of objectifying them.

  4. avatar

    got that right red robin. not only does this alienate female readers, as a gay man even i am put off by it. why not create an entirely new character to use if THIS is what they’re going to do with her. and in no way am i advocating this crap as the basis of a character. it’s revolting. sadly, with all the attention this topic is getting, i’m afraid DC will become the bratty little kid who wants attention even if acting out is what it takes to get it. i suspect worse is down the road for our beloved korY.

  5. avatar

    Well, I’m fairly well certain now that DC is getting EXACTLY what they wanted with this and most of the other DCnU New 52. IE it’s exactly what they wanted with all the murders and rapes prior to the reboot, sales pushed by controversy.

    Seriously, think about all the buzz and the mud slinging you’ve seen or read about this, or batman plowing catwoman, or the new emo superman in jeans, or all the controversy surrounding the batverse and the flash changes.

    this isn’t a “New Improved DC” this is “NEW IMPROVED SAME STUFF YOU WERE ALREADY GETTING”

    What REALLY disturbs me is that they have the gall to post this stuff off as Rated T for Teen. I’m pretty liberal about what I would let the proverbial 13-17 year old read. This stuff? A lot of this stuff is not on that list.

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