So Starfire’s portrayal has stirred up some controversy online since the release of Red Hood and the Outlaws. Mostly, I see men trying to justify why Starfire is the way she is, and completely missing the point as to why her characterization is so wrong. I didn’t even pick up the issue for Starfire; I picked it up for Jason Todd, just because I’ve always found his character interesting. The only thing I know about DC comics has either been straight from Batman or the movies. I’m mostly a Marvel girl, so the DC reboot struck me as a good way to introduce myself to the universe. After all, it was designed to bring in new readers.
That said, Red Hood and the Outlaws completely confused me. I thought it started out pretty good, and then it all went downhill faster than I thought possible after Starfire showed up and I assume blew up a bunch of tanks. I suppose the creators just wanted to leave that action part out and just skip ahead to oversized breasts, which seem to grow and shrink from panel to panel.
With a title like Red Hood and the Outlaws and featured characters like a crazed vigilante, a drug addict, and a former (sex?) slave, I kinda expected the issue to be darker. It has characters that don’t come from the best place, who should have some issues they need to work out.
I remember thinking that Jason’s introduction was good, and Roy’s was decent, to say the least, but then Starfire killed it for me. She has never been a favorite character of mine, though I never thought little of her. I’d see her during the occasional times I’d watch Teen Titians, and I always thought she was a fun-loving character who was both inspiring and a good role model. To a small extent, I did look forward to seeing her in Red Hood. But now, anything good I have to say about the issue has been drowned out by her characterization. When I think of Red Hood and the Outlaws, I think of a vapid sex object who adds nothing with her existence other than wish-fulfillment for horny men looking to buy porn. This honestly felt like the creators didn’t want me reading their comic. It was like every bad thing ever said or done to me for being a woman was slammed into my face. I normally don’t let fictional works offend me like this, but this, on top of Catwoman #1, was just too much. This portrayal is just going to drive away readers at a time when the industry needs them the most.
I looked to see what other people thought of Starfire’s portrayal. And I found a lot of people trying to say that maybe Starfire is the way she is because she used to be a sex slave and some rape victims use sex to regain control over their lives again. You know, maybe I could go with that, had Starfire acted like a rape victim, which also would have been completely out of place, given the rest of the upbeat atmosphere the comic features.
Of course, any reason to think the creators wanted to show Starfire as a victim died with this next quote, which I originally found here.
Yes, there were a lot of people there, it had become quite the conversation piece. There was a lot of discussion about Kory and her sexuality the day before this issue went to press.
There were a handful of staff, mostly other women, who believed the writer was trying to equate being a strong woman with being, frankly, a slut. No one said that the writer was misogynistic, just that perhaps he was writing from a male perspective. It was firmly suggested to him that he could accentuate the character’s past as a sex slave. And that this might be an explanation for her sexuality, that she was acting out in her new life.
However, we were told he was adamant that Kory not be portrayed as a victim. The argument was made that if she was acting out sexually because of her past it [sic] mind that she mentally never left the prison planet.
In the end a compromise was struck and the sentence “I am a woman” [originally placed at the top of the third panel above] was lost.
Oh, and here is the picture they were referring to in that last line: