No reviews this week from me on Ain’t It Cool News but I did doodle up this little bit of artwork:
Yeah, I drew that. You can see it and some nifty comic reviews by clicking here. It’s pretty much my reaction to the whole Starfire controversy that’s been brewing the past couple of weeks. Look, I don’t care about Starfire. I’ve always loved the Teen Titans (as well as the now defunct Cartoon Network animated show) and it is true that Starfire has always been one of the most sexualized characters in the DC Comics stable. I think that the biggest problem with what happened in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS # 1 is the fact that this new Starfire has had her sexuality de-personalized so much. The line where she states that sex, “has nothing to do with love” is what made me most uncomfortable with her portrayal. So the fault, for me, was more with how the character was written rather than what she actually looked like in the comic. Sure, Starfire’s always been one of the bombshells of the DCU but she always approached sex as an intimate act. She was interested in sexuality because it was an expression of her emotions. Hell, she was even monogamous. So while she may have looked like a half-naked sexpot, sex was important to her because to her it was about caring. This new Starfire just sees it as something to do in your spare time. Which, to be completely honest, is probably how a lot of people may look at sex. And that’s fine. It may not necessarily be emotionally or physically healthy, but if you’re an adult you can do whatever you want with another consenting adult, right?
The reason for the backlash to this portrayal, I think, is because for the past year or so DC made such a big deal about changing Wonder Woman’s costume so that it’d be less…sexy. They wanted to cover up her legs and finally get her respected by female readers! And this new 52 re-boot was going to be about bringing in new readers! Hell, at one point I think DC even announced that all of the female superheroes legs would have to be covered up! It was going to be a new and enlightened DC!
Well, that lasted about a minute.
Before you knew it the bare legs were back (which I’m fine with) and the breast sizes were pumped up again. And DC was just catering back to the same fanbase that’s kept them propped up for the last thirty years or so.
As a father of a four-year girl and a fan of comics I know that it’s actually pretty easy to find comics that my little girl can enjoy. That’s not my problem with the sort of thinking behind the Starfire and Catwoman mess. My problem is how DC expects me to steer my daughter towards any depiction of a female DC character (say Starfire in the Teen Titan’s cartoon) when they aren’t going to make any effort to make sure that characters like that will be appropriate for her when she gets older and may be interested in reading comics on her own!!!! Does DC honestly think that when my daughter would be, oh say, fifteen or so that I’d want her exposed to RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS # 1? I’ve already read my daughter SUPERGIRL: COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE EIGHTH GRADE does DC think I’d like my daughter to grow up reading S-Shield crotch wearing Supergirl? Um, no.
And that’s the problem. The quest for new readers doesn’t really include female readers. But we’ve seen that girls have been going crazy for comics since manga took off in the mid 2000’s. It’s a market that’s waiting to be exploited. But making arguably two of your most popular (or potentially popular) female characters into walking blow-up dolls isn’t going to get you new female fans DC. Not by a long shot!