Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Rant About Something I Haven't Read...

I thought I was annoyed by Amanda Waller, but man, Red Hood's depiction of Starfire takes the cake.

Now, full disclosure: I haven't read the comic. It's possible that the bits I've seen that I'm complaining about are only part of the story and mitigated by the rest.

It's not the costume that bothers me. Don't get me wrong, I think the costume's stupid, but Starfire can fly in space. She probably doesn't need a whole lot in the way of weather protection. So if she wants to wear a couple of flimsy bits of cloth for decoration, fine. (It's kind of similar to the way I look at some of Storm's less substantial costumes. If you've got a character for whom clothing really doesn't serve much practical purposes, then you've got more leeway, I figure.)

But what they did to her personality? What the hell?

Look, Starfire was always kind of wish-fulfillment, creator-fantasy made flesh (well, ink and paper at least). It's always been kind of obvious that she was made to suit someone's taste. She's free spirited, cheerful, wears very little clothing, has lots of sex. She could absorb languages through any number of ways, but she does it by kissing because it's fun. Her name is also a ridiculous pun.

But she was fun. She fit an emotional niche on the team. She was particularly suited to Dick Grayson, due to being the exact opposite of the over-cerebral bat-angst that he's used to. She feels things, deeply. She cuts through bullshit. She gets to have sex without being bogged down by angst and drama. She's got a dark backstory but she doesn't let it pull her down.

She has so much potential. She suited Teen Titan soap opera. She worked equally well in space in 52. And I'm still sad that I'll never get to see her and J'onn Jonzz team up in an Howard/Rice-Burroughs/Brackett inspired epic, where they wander about Mars and punch aliens in the face.

The Starfire the bits of Red Hood that I saw, (which again, I admit, is not the full story), doesn't have any of the qualities that I liked. I was going to say they kept the sex-positive aspects, but really they didn't. A sex-positive character is a character that gets enjoyment out of sex. That character has sex because she loves (or at least LIKES) her partner. A sex positive character can have casual sex, sure, but not meaningless sex. There's a difference. A character who has sex just for the sake of having sex, with partners that might as well be robotic stand-ins for all that she actually cares about them, who can barely remember former partners' names? That's not a sex-positive character.

So what did she get to keep? A design and powers? Is that it?

Please tell if I'm wrong. If you've read the comic and can verify that the excerpts floating about online are wrong. Or out of context, at the very least. If my impression of the character from those excerpts is mistaken, please tell me. I will go out and buy the comic right now. I will get over my irrational aversion to Jason fucking Todd out of sheer appreciation for a character I didn't realize I loved so much until I thought she was gone.

Hell, if you can tell me that you think this personality shift actually has a point, and will maybe be leading somewhere interesting (like brainwashing that will then be undone), I...probably won't spend money on this comic, but I'll keep an eye on it and reconsider when the storyline reaches its climax.

At any rate, if you guys tell me I'm wrong, I'll buy the comic, read for myself, and take back this entire rant. If you can't, I'm sure as hell not going to waste the time reading it. I'm just going to sulk, grumble and go read something else.


  • At September 25, 2011 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No, you pretty much got the idea.

    The irony is that they made Jason Todd bearable. But watching Starfire wander around like she's been lobotomized is just too painful to watch.

    -- Jack of Spades

  • At September 26, 2011 9:42 AM, Blogger Maddy said…

    One of the things I don't get, is the emphasis people defending the comic put on her being an alien and having been a slave. Like, yes, those things are true, but they were also true while she was in a loving relationship with Dick. (Because it does seem as though that's still canon.)

    Why did she suddenly develop a tendency to forget everyone she meets and become devoid of emotion? When did that happen? Why are those elements from her past suddenly influence her this way when they seemed to have had that effect before?

    It's such bullshit.

  • At September 26, 2011 9:44 AM, Blogger Maddy said…

    Uhg, typos. "Why are those elements from her past suddenly influencing her this way, when they never had that effect before?"

  • At September 26, 2011 12:04 PM, Blogger ARS said…

    Starfire's robotic Fan Fiction personality is what brings a great story crashing to the ground. It opened in a great way with an awesome prison break. Starfire gets to blow up tanks, but you see how off she is as she acts like a mind controlled French Maid in asking Jason if there is anything else she can do.

    All the good qualities are gone, her kindness even though she was tortured and debased as a slave. The bubbly stuff about her is off. My only guess is that maybe somehow she and others are either not our known characters an some other form due to the melding of the times streams, or these personality traits will point to the damage the Flash did. If those are close to the case, it is sad that Starfire had to be turned into a bimbo sex fantasy of a character to supply eye candy to a book that had story and would have been good without the Maxim type attention grab.

    Be interested to know how Catwoman is in your opinion. I felt like it was the Special Victim's Unit version, but kinda fit storywise.

  • At September 26, 2011 1:26 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'm kind of twitchy on Judd Winick. I like some of his stuff, others I'm not a fan of. I kind of figured that Catwoman would be the latter.

    I've seen the end, naturally, but I don't know the context. It didn't bother me too much, but I also didn't particularly care to read more.

  • At September 26, 2011 3:56 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Well, the old Kory is gone. In her place is a dead-eyed sex toy. A toy that Jason and Roy are MORE than happy to use.

  • At September 26, 2011 5:43 PM, Blogger ARS said…

    Take a look at Catwoman. I would love to see if someone else thinks it kinda worked as a story and as a character.

    This is the only think Winnick has ever written that I really liked.

    I fear Kori is going to be a sex toy for them, sadly. She always was a free spirit, but a strong woman.....

  • At September 26, 2011 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BDS, I gave Catwoman a try. I'm trying all the New 52. It joins Red Hood and the Outlaws on the "burn before reading" pile. It didn't work for me on any level other than T&A – that's "terrible and awful."

    -- Jack of Spades

  • At September 27, 2011 1:55 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Removing emotional involvement from Starfire is like removing bravery from the Green Lanterns.

  • At September 27, 2011 5:31 PM, Anonymous Marina said…

    There's 'girl from Ipanema' sexy - she's having fun and wants a friend to join her, and 'stripper' sexy - she'll take off her clothes, but it's all business, no real joy.

    Seems painfully obvious which one some comic creators have experienced.

    Am I the only one who thinks DC is about to open shop under some bridge? That they WANT to create all the buzz?

  • At September 29, 2011 9:20 AM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    After I found that I enjoyed all of the first batch of the new 52, including some books I didn't originally pick up, I over-enthusiastically told my comics shop (and former employer) to put the whole shebang on my list.

    Thus, I picked up and read both Red Hood and the Outlaws and Catwoman.

    You're wrong only in that you're being far too mild. The reality is much, much worse. As mentioned, they've taken a passionate, intense character and turned her into a sex doll, an emotional void whose "alien" attributes exist entirely to make consequence-free sex an integral plot point.

    The action sequence that starts the book is incidental. It's window-dressing. The point of the entire issue is to establish Starfire as someone who will hang out with two bad boys and [bleep] both of them without pause or particular interest.

    In the same way, the first issue of Catwoman is nothing more than a series of titillating exposures leading up to a scene that can only be described as "raunchy".

    Pointless, vapid, empty stories that exist only to justify sex scenes? "Strong" female characters whose most evident characteristic is not just a strong sex drive, but, evidently, sex addiction? Tailoring an entire character's personality and species to maximize her potential for casual hook-ups?

    This is pornography. It's not "thinly-veiled" anymore. In Catwoman, it's not even "softcore".

    It's not even good porn. I can't help thinking that Phil Foglio could have taken the "only sees humans as sights and smells" idea and given us a fun, happy, Xxxenophile story out of it that treated the alien with affection and respect.

    (By the way, I don't know why everyone uses the "Starfire In the Water Enjoying The Sun" scene as the icon for what Winick's done to her. That's the one scene where she bore some resemblance to the old Koriand'r.)

  • At October 04, 2011 12:17 PM, Blogger notintheface said…


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