So, DC. They've been very kind to me over the last few weeks, giving me plenty to talk about on this series, where we take a look at all of the stupidest, most misguided things in the history of the comic book industry, thanks to their New 52 relaunch. And this week is no different. I promise I'll go back to slagging off Marvel next week, hell I might even have a go at Image if I can find something of theirs that's worth the time. But DC have done a lot wrong over the last half a decade and they're an easy target. Don't worry, they're big boys, they can take it. Anyway, this week, sexism, because that's always fun.
So, long time readers of the blog will know that this isn't the first time I've had to use that picture on What Were They Thinking. Back in 2013, in one of the first of the original run of WWTT I talked about Starfire's New 52 costume and how utterly stupid it is, offering no protection to any area other than her neck, having stupid bottom heavy boots and basically only being designed in this way because Tits. Well...
Yeah... Let's just casually have the only girl in the Outlaws team want to sleep with both the guys whenever she can right? It's like the guys at DC saw that panel from the 80's where Starfire is professing her love for Nightwing by shouting "I love Dick" and deciding that should be her entire character motivation.
And I'm not kidding. Apparently Tamarans have the ability to assimilate languages through contact, so Starfire's preferred method of language assimilation is kissing any guy she can find because it's "more fun". Whilst there is actual character development for Starfire in the New 52, it never really feels like anything substantial because you can't get past the fact that three quarters of the time she's either half naked or completely naked. For such a beloved character, her hyper-sexualised treatment has led to allegations by critics of her being treated as a "perfect 10 imaginary love doll girlfriend" and that the writers took great effort to write her as nothing more than a sexual wish fulfilment object rather than an emotionally layered character. And whilst a counter argument can be made that Starfire is an alien and comes from a different culture where sexual attitudes are very different, that's a bit of a weak argument, especially when you look at the costume. Sexualisation isn't the same as sexual liberation. If the series was written and drawn by women for women with these sorts of costumes and character interactions it'd be a bit less awkward but when it's guys for guys it does come off as sex object syndrome. You can have all the "I will sleep with who I want when I want" in the world, but when your character has the same depth as a puddle and a costume designed to draw attention to your two greatest assets, you ain't doing women's lib right mate. And this isn't just me being Social Justice Warrior.exe, look at how Wonder Woman's New 52 reboot turned out. She wears a variation on her classic costume that manages to be sexy whilst not being all about her chest and she has some characterisation to boot. Look at what Marvel have done in recent years with their female superheroes (and not the ones that used to be male superheroes) and that's the company that once published the X-Men swimsuit special (no joke).
I mean, lets look at it like this;
Same character right? One from the Teen Titans cartoon and the other from the New 52 reboot. Both show a fun loving, excitable character from an alien world with an entirely different culture to ours on Earth. They have the same backstory, give or take a few alterations, but one is an emotionally deep and interesting character whilst the other is softcore porn.
Is it bad that I find cartoon Starfire more attractive because she is an actual character not an arse and some tits?
DC, what did you have against the Titans? You removed Wally West and Donna Troy from existence, ruined Raven, turned Starfire into a sex doll and Beast Boy into red teen werewolf. At least, Nightwing, Cyborg and Arsenal got off somewhat decently (though why Cyborg was added to the Justice League I'll never know, he just worked so much better in the Titans), but still...