WTF, DC? Starfire

With the introduction of The New 52 came some well-grounded criticism of Starfire and Catwoman. I’m not going to argue that Starfire functions as anything other than an exotic blow-up doll in the first two issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws (though it’s less overt in the second issue); I am going to argue that she’s gone from sweet to thoroughly unlikable in recent years.

Let’s be honest, though: Starfire was never without giant breasts and a skimpy costume. Here’s a glimpse of her in almost three decades ago in the Titans’ most famous storyline, 1984’s The Judas Contract:

Nothing subtle about that, but the objectification was offset by Starfire’s obliviousness to her own sexuality. Her innocence and naiveté (she was new to Earth) prevented the way she was drawn from feeling tasteless or exploitative.

Consider the follow-up to that page:

Or the end result of a practice fight between Starfire and Wonder Girl shortly afterward:

This was the Starfire of the ’80s and early ’90s. Cute and sweet, completely ignorant of the what a sex bomb she was. I’m not sure at what point writers officially decided to turn her into an angry battle-scarred warrior – when she was in space with Buddy Baker in 52? – but the impact her past has had on her psyche has shifted dramatically over the years.

Starfire’s origin is that she was a princess sold into slavery who later regained her freedom, which taught her to appreciate life and made earthlings, with their lack of slavery and diminished monarchies, seem charming and worth protecting.

That was then. Nowadays, well…here’s Starfire showing a remarkable amount of tact and restraint during Blackest Night:

The old Starfire would’ve been cool with a Tara Markov statue. This new Starfire reacts to it with borderline hatred. And, really, she’s had years to express her distaste or offer any objections to its presence; bitching about it now just seems like pointless aggression.

A lot of the controversy surrounding Starfire’s appearance in Red Hood and the Outlaws focuses on the personality issues raised by these two pages:

Alternating between subservient girlfriend and emotionless f-buddy to two of the DCU’s biggest losers (and with a wicked case of amnesia, apparently). It’s like walking into a strip club and seeing your kid sister tucking dollar bills into her g-string.

The fact that The New 52 Starfire is a pornographic ideal masked in faux-liberated female sexuality has raised the ire of many comic book readers, with good cause (they’re completely on the mark about Catwoman as well). But it should be noted that this isn’t the first time Starfire’s been all “Yeah, I’ll totally call you” when it comes to bedding male teammates:

Yep, that’s her humping and dumping Captain Comet in the pages of R.E.B.E.L.S. not a year ago. So as much as people feel like spewing bile at Scott Lobdell for the way he’s writing Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws, there’s a bit of a precedent there.

Regardless, the Starfire of the recent past is the complete opposite of the character that was introduced in 1978. Much like Ice in Justice League: Generation Lost, Starfire’s personal growth over the years has turned her into an angry, emotional mess, and she’s moved about as far away as she possibly could from what drew readers to her in the first place. The New 52 was supposed to be a chance to start over.

Update: I somehow missed the fact that DC reacted to the uproar by issuing the absolute dumbest response ever (which you can read about here).

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33 Responses to WTF, DC? Starfire

  1. Starfire is a great charater. I believe she deserves better.

    • redhood says:

      check the cover of starfire 2015 issue 1 there is her girl looking into her shirt as starfire strolls through town mind you with several males and females checking her out

  2. Great website, kingofawkward! Thanks for the link. 🙂

  3. Gerardo says:

    Starfire is not naive anymore on blackest night because she is not stupid she learns, and she was beign kind to Terra, she was a traitor and really not ok.
    And she stated the thing with Capitain Comet was something exeptional, not something she does usually she said that, so what? She go offroad one time and you call her pornographic? Thats tipical reactionary nonsense

    The new 52 is something entirely “new” and not in a good sense, the thing is that people call Red Hood and The outlaws sexist and then go straight to call Starfire a slut, thats NOT how It works.

  4. Gerardo says:

    And look how in REBELS she showed WAY LESS skin than in the new 52

  5. Have to disagree on this one. In Starfire’s entire pre-reboot history (some of which, I don’t like the writing of) Starfire has bedded 4, (maybe 5) guys. Dick Grayson (LTR), Karras (Husband /deceased/ political marriage, Phyzzon (husband/deceased/ married after she left earth) and Captain Comet. She might have slept with Franklin Crandell, (deceased – this was never shown or implied, but it might have happened) before she hooked up with Dick.

    “Humping and dumping” and “bedding her male teammates”? Not by a long shot.

    • I’m not entirely sure what you mean. She is treating her encounter with Captain Comet extremely casually and he is a male teammate. Nowhere did I state that she has a lengthy history of emotionless sex with her teammates, just that a no-big-deal attitude toward sex has been displayed (a year) before.

      • his was written a year ago by people who have no idea what to do with Starfire. Starfire’s attitude was never that sex was “no big deal.” It was always seen by her as the ultimate expression of love. (Or else none of the male Titans members would be off limits.) That’s the difference. That’s what DCnU didn’t get.

  6. Furyberserk says:

    I don’t know too much about the DCU, but the pages displayed from the New 52 doesn’t seem legit in comparison to your comment. She seems like she wants to forget, but she can’t and she knows she can’t. I think that page you showed added more of a plea for forgiveness than a hump-and-dump f-buddy. I would have to say that it would have to be the scene before this, if she asked or he did. Though I’m not advent in the DCU, I can tell when something makes sense or doesn’t, especially with the images to clarify.

    • Do you mean the Red Hood/Red Arrow pages or the Captain Comet pages? If it’s the Captain Comet ones, R.E.B.E.L.S. goes out of its way to show that Comet has unrequited feelings for her and Starfire wants nothing more than sex.

  7. Lol loser says:

    Talk about complaining about nothing she’s a hot super hero that has always been the same the only difference is that comics now a days are alot better at how they look. Your probably just a 5 year old complaining cause you grow up watching the tv show and don’t like tits. Shut the fuck up! And accually use the word fuck if your going to use it.

  8. Adam says:

    I can’t believe men have the nerve to comment on how women should feel about the portrayal of women in comics. Of course you can’t relate to them. The gist of this article is women have been portrayed as mindless sex addicts in the past why shouldn’t it continue. Privileged male bullshit. To the women Marvel will be publishing Ms Marvel soon and sounds to be what some of you are looking for.

    • Not really sure what you mean: I was arguing *against* portraying Starfire as a mindless sex addict, while noting that this wasn’t as new a thing for Starfire as people may have thought when her New 52 iteration debuted, just more overt. And, after all’s said and done, still pretty gross. That was the gist of this article.

    • Nick says:

      I’m a man, but I think women should feel happy and confident about who they are.

  9. joe says:

    This is crazy i watched teen titans as a kid now starfire has become a sex doll who has no clothes to begin with wtf dc

  10. derrick says:

    I like the new starfire, it a new prospective and like the real world Fantasy isn’t all black and white. She’s a warrior from another planet, why would she be innocent, and this starfire will bring in a new fan base as well as keep original fans like me interested.

    P.s. Arsenal aka Roy Harper was never a loser

  11. Cody says:

    Seriously people wtf? If you’re going to complain about female heroes being sexualized you need to examine all of them. Every since she was introduced Starfire has basically walked around in next to nothing, much like Wonder Woman and countless other female superheroes, and i know people are ranting and raving about Catwoman, who has always been a notorious flirt with batman and has had implied sex with the bat more than once. What’s the difference now that DC is just confirming what most of us already knew?

  12. Michael Boggs says:

    It’s funny that no ever complains that Batman was having sex too, but Catwoman is pornographic. Man double standards are a bitch! If Starfire is a slut and a bad character for having sex with 5 different men in her life time, then you must really hate batman! Right!

    • savage says:

      You’re missing the point. Its not about characters having sex. Its about the character being misrepresented in the New 52. Starfire has always been more of an ‘innocent’ character. Sure, Bruce Wayne has sex. That’s part of his established character. I doubt comic readers would object to the notion of Catwoman, Talia or Poison Ivy having countless sex. The problem is that they forced it on a character that doesn’t usually act that way. That’s like if DC decided to flood Superman or the Flash comics with them having mindless sex with anyone. It just doesn’t fit. Also, the Catwoman controversy is not with her having sex, but rather her doing it with Batman on a roof or something just for the sake of it. I believe its known as fan service. It’s stupid and adds nothing to the story.

  13. Very good analysis, I think. I miss the sweet, innocent Starfire.

  14. John says:

    I don’t mind the sex shot but she has the personality of a wet napkin I hope it gets better cuts the series as a whole is pretty lame WW rewrite n GL r pretty sick

  15. Pingback: The DC Comic Character Starfire | Online Comic Guide

  16. Pingback: NerdSpan » Goodbye New 52: New Books, Creative Teams and Continuing Series Announced by DC Comics

  17. Joe says:

    Comics writing has gone to Hell. I suppose it’s all the deconstructionist b.s. and the hacks wanting to be auteurs. Somebody should publish some comic books that kids could read and afford to buy without selling a kidney. Good guy exemplifies decent values, bad guy is a cautionary example, good guy K.O.s bad guy.

  18. RayVision3D says:

    Superman spoiled everyone by making them think an alien would have the same morality as humans. When Supergirl arrived, having been raised on Kandor (a Krypton colony), and having the same morality, people assumed all aliens had the same view of relationships and sex as humans. Starfire was obviously created to blow that myth to pieces. She is incredibly heroic and loyal, but she sees sex as an activity you share with your friends. She shows as much restraint as she can because she realizes humans don’t share her point of view. Starfire can’t help but to be the way she is because it is her nature. The old series made it look naïve, the new series makes it look pragmatic. Either way, it has nothing to do with human morality, only the way humans respond to it.

    And that, I believe, is the point of making her sexuality so over-the-top.

  19. Amber says:

    This is what DC has to do to keep her far away from the Bat fam…. In the movies, she’s depicted with a much more mature a d well-controlled persona.

  20. fizzrepulian says:

    good analysis on this.

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