Starfire: Retrospective

Yesterday I posted a blog about Starfire's costume changes which I expected to follow the trend of most other things I've written: a couple dozen views, a handful of comments (primarily from followers) one or two dissidents, and overall obscurity. Instead it garnered over 300 views and (including my own occasional feedback) over 50 comments. So I decided, once the dust had begun to settle, to analyze what had been said, and these were my results.

The point of my blog was to say that 1. I found Starfire's traditional portrayal distasteful and 2. I was disappointed and perplexed by the decision to revert back to her revealing outfit particularly in light of her having had a reasonably cool, combat and support-sensible, and modest one. Of 24 respondents, 9 (37.5 %) agreed with me; 13 (~54.2 %) disagreed with or dismissed me; 2 (~8.3 %) did not indicate a specific position.

Three of the respondents who disagreed with me specifically questioned why I was making a big deal out of it now, a matter I addressed in the original post and continued to address in the comments. That is not to undermine their argument, but simply to suggest that their own response indicated a failure to have read, or at least to have been diligent in reading, the thing with which they were disagreeing.

Likewise, three respondents excused the change of outfit on the basis of it being a space suit and thus given up upon leaving space. Once more, I did address this in my original post, having considered it as an explanation. Starfire maintained her outfit longer than her compatriots; moreover, there was nothing inherent to the suit to render it impractical or hindering for keeping. We can explain her not wearing the suit earlier because she did not have it, but as far as I can tell there's no reasonable explanation for why she would part with it -- that is to say, nothing about the suit made it uniquely suitable for off-earth combat, which means if she chose not to wear it she would have had to do so consciously.

We thus have a question of the pros and cons of the suit itself. One person on either side of the argument (so, two) raised the point that Starfire's abilities depend on absorption of sunlight, and that a more revealing outfit is thus a practical combat decision. This notion was contested by comparing Starfire to other aliens (notably Superman) who derive their power from the sun while wearing more clothing. The inability to find a definite canonical defense, in my mind, allows us to toss out the argument. Moreover, even if the space suit fails to allow adequate sunlight for Kori's abilities, that does not inherently prove the need to wear so little; a modest compromise would still be superior to the current outfit.

As for keeping the suit, six people were in favor of the design itself, including one person who did not have a problem with the new one and one neutral respondent; one person found it too bland. Two people who preferred the armor did so less because they cared about modesty and more because they thought the new design was bad (and would have been fine with the old one). From a practical standpoint, three respondents (all in agreement with OP) called the new outfit impractical, with one specifying Kori's lack of latent invulnerability.

Looking for other explanations of Starfire's immodesty, three noted alien culture (including one who agreed with OP). My challenge that a year and a half of time spent on earth living with humans should have been sufficient for her to adapt to our concept of modesty, even if for no other reason than Roy's sake (as she cares for him), remains unanswered. Interestingly, one respondent, who admitted to taking issue to "anyone who complains about her costume at all" rather than concern himself with my specific points, suggested that asking her to cover her body was itself a sexist position.

Sexism, naturally, came up elsewhere, though that was the only case in which the charge was leveraged against me. Two respondents agreeing with OP specifically called out the misogynist roots of the design, while four noted that it was tacky or needlessly exploitative. Two opposers simply denied the suggestion that her outfit was sexist.

Six (25% of) respondents pointed out that Starfire's outfit has always been excessively revealing; none of these respondents objected to that reality. One respondent suggested that the historicity of Starfire's outfit was the reason he did not consider that outfit sexist. The overwhelming position of opponents to my argument, then, maintained that sexual objectification of Starfire is intrinsic to her character; the strength of that position wavering from outright support of its continuation to general ambivalence tending towards not seeing objectification as an issue worth addressing.

Let me repeat that last bit of information, for clarity: Of those who agreed with me, the majority (7 of 9) explicitly complained about Starfire's objectification as being a problem they would like to see addressed (either via the space suit, or a new but more modest outfit). Of those who disagreed with me, almost half (6 of 13) explicitly acknowledged Starfire's objectification and then either supported it or dismissed it as a non-issue.

One neutral respondent acknowledged the fanservice angle and suggested that the question of whether a given character's sexualization is a worthwhile issue depends on whether it is done poorly. We have evidence here that Starfire's portrayal is both divisive and prohibitive, with several respondents noting that her portrayal has actually kept them from reading the book in which she is featured. I therefore posit that she has been handled poorly, and that the issue of sexualization specifically as it pertains to Starfire is therefore worthy of discussion.

One other thing I would like to discuss is a statement made by 1/3 of respondents, including at least one representative from the neutral, agree, and disagree camps (but unsurprisingly most commonly in the latter), and that is the idea that writing is more important than art, even to the point of supplanting it.

Indeed, a common theme in this thread was the idea that no matter what a character wears or how he or she is drawn, the writing is what carries the book. While I think there is some validity to the point, I think it is rather shortsighted. One respondent illustrated this potential absurdity by sarcastically agreeing with detractors, imagining a black character donning racist garb out of ostensible freedom of expression.

The message, in my mind, ought to be clear: if your writing says your character matters because she's interesting, but your art says your character matters because she's hot, and people are noticing the art over the writing, then your prevailing message is that the character's body is more important than her personality. The fact that some readers found her portrayal as a barrier to reading merely underscores that point; the message of Starfire's outfit is more prominent among readers than the message of her history, thoughts, or actions.

Comics are a hybrid medium. They are writing combined with art, and when the two are out of sync with one another the result should never be considered good. Starfire is a prime example of the two being out of sync, because people who usually complain about an artist's talent keeping them from getting into a book have been driven to the opposite extreme of saying bad art won't keep them from a good story. It's simply not true, and I'd guess that every person who said it has at some point passed on or stopped reading a series because of the art style alone.

It's true that even the best art cannot save a bad story, but to take that all the way to a dismissal of what the art may be saying is an insult to the speaker as much as it is to every artist who has ever devoted a lifetime to speaking through the language of visual art. Art does matter, and it reveals to us how the creators think about their characters and, thereby, how they want us to think about their characters. No matter how many words Lobdell (or now Tynion) uses to tell us that Princess Koriand'r is a strong and self-respecting woman, if the art simply screams "she's sexy," we will never truly take those words seriously.

I fully recognize that a strong and independent woman can be sexy and wear revealing clothing. I am arguing that that is not the message conveyed by Starfire's outfit. In fact, NO ONE seems to be arguing that. Despite the fact that the majority of respondents did not agree with me about this being a step in the wrong direction, none of those detractors actually suggested that the reason for her wearing practically nothing was to demonstrate her independence.

That does not surprise me. Because that argument is simply not there. You can't find it in the art. The art isn't saying that. The art is saying "here's fanservice." And maybe, somewhere below the surface, the story is saying "here are some backdoor excuses for when "fanservice" isn't enough to convince people of the art."

What scares me, a whole lot, is that I can make a statement like that, and rather than people saying "you know what, that's a good point, maybe we should want a little more depth in the way a character like this is portrayed, something more befitting the story of power and confidence and getting-to-know-human-customs that the writing is conveying about her, which this art is blatantly ignoring," what they will instead say is "yeah, and?"

Because a lot of the people who disagreed with me actually flat-out acknowledged that Starfire is a fanservice character. Some of them would be okay if she were only that, and didn't even have depth in her writing. And the rest, though I hope they read what I just said and change their mind, may continue to not care about the art so long as the writing's okay.

I find it quite disconcerting that we want to defend characters being drawn this way. It bothers me that people are okay with settling, settling for stagnation over becoming a more embracing and accepting medium, settling for flagrant sexism so long as it's still possible to see something past it. It worries me that this is either dismissed or, when acknowledged, treated as meaningless, as if fair treatment and portrayal of all human beings were not only not a worthwhile goal, but actually a joke that only tightwads find amusing. It demonstrates that the industry, more particularly its fanbase, is blind to the reality of the world outside its niche walls, and is blind to the fact that if it does not start taking equality seriously it is absolutely going to be left behind in the brutal war of entertainment media.

As I said before, "What I have trouble accepting is…[the belief] that because good stories can be told with slutty outfits on objectified female characters, that somehow means that slutty outfits on objectified female characters are fine. It's like telling a mechanic that shoddy brakes are okay because the car still drives well: yeah, that may be true, but that doesn't mean fixing the brakes is pointless, and ignoring them for long may result in a preventable collision."

I apologize if I come across as crazed or some sort of activist. I actually posted that blog more as a response to a handful of people than as any kind of attempt to start a debate. But seeing how it unfolded, and really considering the implications of what was said to me, honestly bothered me, and I'm coming through on the other side realizing that maybe this actually is a big deal, if for no other reason than people think it isn't.

Thank you for reading.

If your responses suggest that you have, in fact, read this and considered it, I will happily continue the discussion below ^_^

31 Comments
31 Comments
Edited by Avenging-X-Bolt

It is an issue and i agree with you but at the same time i do look my comic book characters to look good. which is why i suggested tweaks to the original outfit in order to make it more tasteful/practical instead of the space suit which i found rather bland.

Posted by akbogert

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

It is an issue and i agree with you but at the same time i do look my comic book characters to look good. which is why i suggested tweaks to the original outfit in order to make it more tasteful/practical instead of the space suit which i found rather bland.

I think that's a perfectly reasonable response. As I said when discussing the "needs power from the sun" argument, just because the armor covers too much of her body doesn't mean we have to jump to the extreme of having her back to skivvies. I think somewhere between the two would be ideal. Or, honestly, at least bring it up in the book. Have some character point it out and have her make some declaration of wearing whatever she darn well pleases. I'd still see it as obvious fanservice but at least they'd have had the balls to own up to it :)

Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt

@akbogert said:

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

It is an issue and i agree with you but at the same time i do look my comic book characters to look good. which is why i suggested tweaks to the original outfit in order to make it more tasteful/practical instead of the space suit which i found rather bland.

I think that's a perfectly reasonable response. As I said when discussing the "needs power from the sun" argument, just because the armor covers too much of her body doesn't mean we have to jump to the extreme of having her back to skivvies. I think somewhere between the two would be ideal.

My thoughts exactly

Or, honestly, at least bring it up in the book. Have some character point it out and have her make some declaration of wearing whatever she darn well pleases. I'd still see it as obvious fanservice but at least they'd have had the balls to own up to it :)

Lol, that would be something.

Posted by JonSmith

In regards to her learning human customs from a few months on Earth, and that being excuse to cover up, the New 52's history for her seems to be 'She spent time with the Titans, during which time she met Dick Grayson. When her generation of the team disbanded or otherwise moved on, rather than integrating into human society, she instead retreated to her ship was crashed.' In this case, an island. It's implied she spent the rest of her time there until stumbling across Jason.

Whereas Superman mixed in among humans, she kind of can't, and makes no attempt to do so. The fire hair, completely green eyes, and orange skin seems to object to that route. So there was no period where she'd be spending time after the Titans. During the stay with the Titans, it can be assumed that none of her teammates objected to her outfit because she was a superhero with them: No one thinks it's weird that the rest of the team is running around in tights, why would they say anything about Star's outfit?

Granted, this doesn't really excuse the remainder of your points, but it IS an excuse for why she didn't pick up clothing customs.

Posted by WonderHunter

@akbogert said:

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

It is an issue and i agree with you but at the same time i do look my comic book characters to look good. which is why i suggested tweaks to the original outfit in order to make it more tasteful/practical instead of the space suit which i found rather bland.

I think that's a perfectly reasonable response. As I said when discussing the "needs power from the sun" argument, just because the armor covers too much of her body doesn't mean we have to jump to the extreme of having her back to skivvies. I think somewhere between the two would be ideal. Or, honestly, at least bring it up in the book. Have some character point it out and have her make some declaration of wearing whatever she darn well pleases. I'd still see it as obvious fanservice but at least they'd have had the balls to own up to it :)

THIS. Thanks for make this blog, @akbogert: ... you're not the only one who cares. I do know how Starfire is, but c'mon... in the past, at least their designs were acceptably practical. I even like her armor. It grew on me. And it bothers me that some people see her character as pure fanservice. She's not.

Posted by akbogert

@akbogert said:

My challenge that a year and a half of time spent on earth living with humans should have been sufficient for her to adapt to our concept of modesty, even if for no other reason than Roy's sake (as she cares for him), remains unanswered.

@JonSmith said:

In regards to her learning human customs from a few months on Earth, and that being excuse to cover up, the New 52's history for her seems to be 'She spent time with the Titans, during which time she met Dick Grayson. When her generation of the team disbanded or otherwise moved on, rather than integrating into human society, she instead retreated to her ship was crashed.' In this case, an island. It's implied she spent the rest of her time there until stumbling across Jason.

Whereas Superman mixed in among humans, she kind of can't, and makes no attempt to do so. The fire hair, completely green eyes, and orange skin seems to object to that route. So there was no period where she'd be spending time after the Titans. During the stay with the Titans, it can be assumed that none of her teammates objected to her outfit because she was a superhero with them: No one thinks it's weird that the rest of the team is running around in tights, why would they say anything about Star's outfit?

Granted, this doesn't really excuse the remainder of your points, but it IS an excuse for why she didn't pick up clothing customs.

Thank you for addressing that point. To be fair, I'm referring just to the period of time since Jason washed up on Kori's shore (i.e. she's been around at least him and Roy for the past year and a half of New 52 comics), as she seems not to remember much of anything about that Titans time beyond the vaguest sense that it happened. But if she wasn't criticized before, and as neither of the boys seems to be forward about minding, I suppose it's fair that she might not have gotten the cue to cover up. Granted, I still think the whole alien culture thing is just a lame and lazy excuse for fanservice, but I'll acknowledge that it can't be completely disregarded. (Do note, though, that running around in tights is different, and if she were in tights I probably wouldn't have said anything :P)

@Avenging-X-Bolt: Wouldn't it, though? :)

@WonderHunter: Indeed. For some reason a lot of people in the original thread were under the impression that I hated Starfire or thought she was worthless because she didn't cover more of her body, and that's not my position at all. I just think the art is unfortunate and undermines the good things the story has done for her (weakens them, mind you, doesn't undo or reverse them).

Posted by JonSmith

@akbogert said:

Thank you for addressing that point. To be fair, I'm referring just to the period of time since Jason washed up on Kori's shore (i.e. she's been around at least him and Roy for the past year and a half of New 52 comics), as she seems not to remember much of anything about that Titans time beyond the vaguest sense that it happened. But if she wasn't criticized before, and as neither of the boys seems to be forward about minding, I suppose it's fair that she might not have gotten the cue to cover up. Granted, I still think the whole alien culture thing is just a lame and lazy excuse for fanservice, but I'll acknowledge that it can't be completely disregarded. (Do note, though, that running around in tights is different, and if she were in tights I probably wouldn't have said anything :P)

Well, take into account that her species doesn't really benefit from clothing the way you and I do: They're superheated, Roy even comments that she's typically more than a little bit above human body temperature. Our culture's requirement for clothing developed because we need to be kept warm and safe from the elements. Her species can fly, project superheated plasma, and unless I'm very much mistaken, is super strong, etc. So it makes sense her culture wouldn't place as big a priority on covering up as ours: They don't need to.

You can even see this type of mentality reflected in other alien species, namely, J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, pre-52: When displayed in his natural Martian state, it was generally without clothing, or at least very little. Why? Because they're a race of shapeshifters. If they needed to cover up, they could simply grow the appendages or necessary attributes needed to warm themselves, so again, they didn't place a great deal of focus on covering up. J'onn learned to do this quickly due to the rather traumatic circumstances

surrounding his abrupt arrival to Earth, hence why he doesn't follow the same dress code as Starfire... Oh, that's a bad image...

Posted by akbogert

@JonSmith: Haha. I'll be grateful I don't know what he looks like and thus can't get the mental image. I will say that Kori has been developing an attachment to Roy that now goes beyond mere idle fascination; at the very least she seems to understand and respect the premium he places on exclusivity in their relationship. It seems to me that a logical extension of that would be a bit of modesty in front of others, but again, as the subject does not seem to have come up, that could well be me projecting onto Roy a concern he doesn't actually have (though the fact that he was so worried about Jason's opinions suggests that we have similar feelings about relationships, at least in that respect). All that aside, if wearing excess clothing would actually be uncomfortable for her, then neither she nor Roy would want her to worry about it. Maybe what we need is a male Tamaran. Give me a Tamaran stud running around in a Speedo and I'll accept that it's just Kori being an alien, doing alien stuff. ^_^

Posted by WonderHunter

@akbogert: I understand you in that point. I see some weeks ago her new suit and i kind of feel disapointed, because they don't even respect her old armor... The thing about her culture is that her people are supose to see clothes as useless. As warriors, they just use the necessary to protect and at the same time to absorb the sun freely as Tamaran is much farther from the sun than Earth and probably find it easier that way. But the new suit, while have things that I like (the boots, shoulder pads) that part of the breast is a joke.

But I try to look on the bright side, now this new suit is more practical in the breasts. Still not entirely believable, but .... nature of comics?

I still like more the space suit, but that just my taste :) ... But i pick this over the first suit any day. If is properly drawn, it can even look cool.

Posted by akbogert

@WonderHunter: Perhaps it's an issue of the artist. That particular scan makes this new suit look a lot more reasonable than does the cover I posted in the other thread. Maybe not quite as aesthetically pleasing, but functionally it's definitely an improvement over the original outfit.

Posted by WonderHunter

@akbogert: @JonSmith: :D

Edited by WonderHunter

@akbogert said:

@WonderHunter: Perhaps it's an issue of the artist. That particular scan makes this new suit look a lot more reasonable than does the cover I posted in the other thread. Maybe not quite as aesthetically pleasing, but functionally it's definitely an improvement over the original outfit.

I agree. Perhaps :)

Posted by JonSmith

@WonderHunter said:

@akbogert: @JonSmith: :D

Posted by akbogert

Oh man. Hahaha. I'm still trying to figure out the implications of that image existing.

Posted by Aiden Cross

Nice summary/reflection. And i have to agree that John Smith does bring up a good point here. One i didn't think about :) but yes, i still remain of the opinion that Starfire should wear a sexy outfit (the armor was) but not a revealing one. But it's nice to see everyones opinion, gives you a couple of new angles to view things :)

Posted by wessaari

I believe that her character has the depth to show how someone with her background, (her being sold into slavery, tortured, experimented on, possibly raped and being abandoned by her people) can overcome their past and go on with life with a smile on her face. i think you really have to think past her ditzy nature, and her clothing choices, becuase honestly you aren't looking past what she wears and in turn you are doing exactly what you are arguing against; seeing her for what she is wearing. The biggest challenge for Starfire, isnt what shes wearing, its readers looking past that and getting to know the real Kori. Readers who dont see a problem with her clothing choices, either dont mind her open sexuality or dont mind that it is open because of her personality. Ya, people look at her just for her looks, but I think that even in this day in age we as mature readers can look past that. Look at issue 6, the girl was barely in clothing, but yet the most memorble thing about that issue was her personality. Those who look at her as a piece of eyecandy have the same problem with people who dont like the way she is dressed because she is someone the only "objectified" character in comic books.

Posted by akbogert

@Aiden Cross: I like that. "Sexy...but not revealing." It's funny because you'd think they were inseparable.

Alright, so I've given some thought to the whole Tamaran lifestyle thing, now that I've been presented with a male who also dresses rather immodestly. I have two specific points which run in line with the overarching points I've been making this whole time.

  1. At what point do we have to reevaluate what is and is not acceptable? I mean, comics have been around for a very long time, and the way people think has changed too. I'm sure there are outrageously sexist and racist (and probably xenophobic) things throughout the history of comics. And while we can understand why such things existed in their time, I think it's ridiculous to assume that just because something was acceptable when it started, it must still be acceptable. Personally, I think we've reached a point where the idea of a race that casual about nudity is outdated, at least insomuch as mainstream comics are concerned. I think, particularly with a reboot so recent, this would be a fantastic point of endowing Tamaran with more modesty, for the practical reason that Tamarans are going to show up on covers and in lots of pages and it's ridiculous for them to be so close to naked all the time.
  2. There's still quite a gender imbalance going on, right? Darkfire appears to be pretty obscure. Certainly he wasn't created with the expectation that his appearance in or on the front of a comic or series would move issues off the shelf. It's almost too convenient that a male exists but the female's the only one people know or care about. Tamaran customs aside, Starfire is half-naked because people like seeing a half-naked Starfire, and that's kind of obnoxious, because it has nothing to do with her own choices or personality. It's a meta-textual reason for what's happening within the text. That doesn't discount the earlier discussion about latent higher body temperature, but I think it's worth mentioning nonetheless.

@wessaari said:

I believe that her character has the depth to show how someone with her background, (her being sold into slavery, tortured, experimented on, possibly raped and being abandoned by her people) can overcome their past and go on with life with a smile on her face. i think you really have to think past her ditzy nature, and her clothing choices, becuase honestly you aren't looking past what she wears and in turn you are doing exactly what you are arguing against; seeing her for what she is wearing. The biggest challenge for Starfire, isnt what shes wearing, its readers looking past that and getting to know the real Kori.

Well first of all, I think you're hard-pressed to find someone who is tortured and raped and then chooses to walk about half-naked and have sex on a whim. That's tangential to the point of this thread but it's maybe a valid question, whether the "free sexuality" character trait even makes sense when you consider Kori's past. But like I said, that's off-topic here. To address the bolded part of what you just said, I'll simply requote myself from the OP: "It bothers me that people are okay with settling, settling for stagnation over becoming a more embracing and accepting medium, settling for flagrant sexism so long as it's still possible to see something past it." I shouldn't have to get past or around the art. It should not be an obstacle to appreciating the character. It shouldn't even be a thing that distracts me and makes me think about it. The mere suggestion that it could be overpowering the interesting parts of the character actually proves that I have a valid complaint.

Posted by wessaari

@akbogert said:

@wessaari said:

I believe that her character has the depth to show how someone with her background, (her being sold into slavery, tortured, experimented on, possibly raped and being abandoned by her people) can overcome their past and go on with life with a smile on her face. i think you really have to think past her ditzy nature, and her clothing choices, becuase honestly you aren't looking past what she wears and in turn you are doing exactly what you are arguing against; seeing her for what she is wearing. The biggest challenge for Starfire, isnt what shes wearing, its readers looking past that and getting to know the real Kori.

Well first of all, I think you're hard-pressed to find someone who is tortured and raped and then chooses to walk about half-naked and have sex on a whim. That's tangential to the point of this thread but it's maybe a valid question, whether the "free sexuality" character trait even makes sense when you consider Kori's past. But like I said, that's off-topic here. To address the bolded part of what you just said, I'll simply requote myself from the OP: "It bothers me that people are okay with settling, settling for stagnation over becoming a more embracing and accepting medium, settling for flagrant sexism so long as it's still possible to see something past it." I shouldn't have to get past or around the art. It should not be an obstacle to appreciating the character. It shouldn't even be a thing that distracts me and makes me think about it. The mere suggestion that it could be overpowering the interesting parts of the character actually proves that I have a valid complaint.

I really think that you have set yourself up to a point where whatever answer you recieve, you will not be pleased. You are trying to right off possible answers to your question, and you are putting yourself in a narrow box. You ever notice how every male superhero has busted out abs, and are basically eye candy for ladies. Nobody has a problem with that, and that is because a woman's breasts are more exposed, and more obvious. That is just how women were created, and social standings have formed to make a woman's breasts physically appealing. I am not saying you dont have a valid complaint, but this is nothing new to the character, and if you really care about the character you should be able to see past it, especially if you know that for her whole comic book life she has been physically revealing. If she was in her space suit for a good portion of her publication and then went all revealing on us, I would most likely agree with you, but from her inception and the description of her culture and people than I will have to stick with my stance.

Posted by akbogert

@wessaari: I stand by the part of my OP which I quoted; it bothers me that people are so eager to excuse what has been established a sexuality for sexuality's sake. So to the extent that I am not going to be pleased by people who think it's fine or irrelevant, you are right that I'm in a narrow box. That said, in regards to the potentially valid points which have been brought up, I am still in the process of discussing them with people. In Kori's case I honestly don't see how the free sex style meshes with the rape victim past, but that's not a bone to pick with anyone here; it simply brings me back to my initial concern that the people who are creatively responsible for how Starfire is portrayed seem to put a premium on displaying her even when there are logical and cultural reasons not to do so.

Your point about exaggerated male anatomy/perfection is noted but, frankly, has been raised, disputed, struck down, ad nauseum in most of the feminism-driven threads on the site, most readily in the Feminist/Rights Nomenclature (cont.) thread. Even after the gender representation imbalance there's the posturing issue. But neither of those is, again, precisely relevant here.

Once more, I'd like to reiterate that I love and respect Starfire, I am loving Red Hood and the Outlaws, and I will continue to love both. I feel like Starfire's outfit needs to either change or be acknowledged within the book (see the earlier comments in this thread), because right now it seems Starfire dresses less according to her whims and more according to the artists'.

As you and others have pointed out, there are plenty of other, and worse, examples of blatant sexism in the comic industry. My point is simply that here's a case where I had hoped they were going to fix it, and then they ended up not going that route, and it disappointed me. I would like to see Kori wearing something more befitting of the awesome, confident, character she is, rather than the kind of thing which most readers would just see and call slutty (and which turns off people who haven't read her, keeping them from even giving her a chance). If they can make an in-book, in-character argument for her liberated sexuality and immodesty, then so be it. I just don't feel comfortable with the way it stands right now, that's all.

Posted by Aiden Cross

@akbogert said:

@Aiden Cross: I like that. "Sexy...but not revealing." It's funny because you'd think they were inseparable.

Alright, so I've given some thought to the whole Tamaran lifestyle thing, now that I've been presented with a male who also dresses rather immodestly. I have two specific points which run in line with the overarching points I've been making this whole time.

  1. At what point do we have to reevaluate what is and is not acceptable? I mean, comics have been around for a very long time, and the way people think has changed too. I'm sure there are outrageously sexist and racist (and probably xenophobic) things throughout the history of comics. And while we can understand why such things existed in their time, I think it's ridiculous to assume that just because something was acceptable when it started, it must still be acceptable. Personally, I think we've reached a point where the idea of a race that casual about nudity is outdated, at least insomuch as mainstream comics are concerned. I think, particularly with a reboot so recent, this would be a fantastic point of endowing Tamaran with more modesty, for the practical reason that Tamarans are going to show up on covers and in lots of pages and it's ridiculous for them to be so close to naked all the time.
  2. There's still quite a gender imbalance going on, right? Darkfire appears to be pretty obscure. Certainly he wasn't created with the expectation that his appearance in or on the front of a comic or series would move issues off the shelf. It's almost too convenient that a male exists but the female's the only one people know or care about. Tamaran customs aside, Starfire is half-naked because people like seeing a half-naked Starfire, and that's kind of obnoxious, because it has nothing to do with her own choices or personality. It's a meta-textual reason for what's happening within the text. That doesn't discount the earlier discussion about latent higher body temperature, but I think it's worth mentioning nonetheless.

Yup! I often women who are dressed sexier than when they are in bikini/half naked or whatever to be honest. I've read a research once that a woman is considered to be the most sexy when she's dressed for 60 percent. The part that would not be dressed would be the arms and the legs. =)

1. Hmm about the culture thing, there are still a great many comic books out there that shows the kind of culture also seen with the Tamarans. Think Warlords of Mars.. the people there don't dress modestly in the slighest. Especially Dejah Thoris. Picture below:

Cover from White Apes series

Then another example would be Storm (not the Marvel one, but from Big Balloon). Though this comic book goes through different timelines and cultures so it changes a lot. But one of the main characters Redhair is often scantily clad as well. So as for this day and age being outdated, i don't know. There are still many cultures in comic books like it. But i do agree it would be great if they changed it though. It's not that i disagree with you, more pointing out cultures in comic books with the same issues ^_^

2. And that part i 100% agree with and have nothing more to add, since you said it all ^_^

Posted by lykopis

See, now this is where I get a bit -- not confused but more frustrated? Still not a good work but it'll have to suffice.

The position that these characters (both Starfire and Dejah) come from worlds where dressing scantily is the norm and therefore to be expected in order to stay true to the story is bologna. Flat out. So, when these characters were created, the team involved were like "Hey, looks like we're are going to have to make these characters wear stuff that makes them practically naked --- nipple covers for Dejah and gravity/physics defying breast covers for Starfire!

Come one now. Really?

Flash has some nifty threads on -- his costume is specially made to tolerate his speeds -- this is comics, people. They can put Starfire in an outfit that has "special qualities" that allows for sun/heat absorption - so on and so on. And make it sexy -- of course, the fact that she is stunning is awesome and damn straight she should flaunt that gorgeous body. But like that? Seriously? Thigh highs and shoulder covering? It would make more sense in the reverse.

If you like her outfits because you like seeing her depicted like an alien stripper -- than just say so. I won't accuse you of liking the book she is in or even her character JUST because of the outfits. But to continue defending her outfits because its her alien race's shtick or that is all about her non-adherence to petty Earth's societal expectations, then leave her naked. Yes, naked. Thejah too. It makes more sense story and character wise for them to be nude than to have nipple covers with jingly chains connected to thongs, or bodices with that had to be superglued in order for it stay as "realistic" costumes.

Posted by akbogert

@Aiden Cross: I don't know about Storm, but I do know that Warlords of Mars seems to be rated Mature. Red Hood is a Teen book. So I suppose when I said "mainstream" I meant something that, if people followed ratings, just about anyone could pick up (yes, young people can easily buy M book, but let's pretend they only read what was rated appropriate for them). Just saying ^_^

Posted by Aiden Cross

Ah right, didn'tconsider the ratings! Thanks for pointing that out :)

Posted by sethysquare

@WonderHunter said:

@akbogert: I understand you in that point. I see some weeks ago her new suit and i kind of feel disapointed, because they don't even respect her old armor... The thing about her culture is that her people are supose to see clothes as useless. As warriors, they just use the necessary to protect and at the same time to absorb the sun freely as Tamaran is much farther from the sun than Earth and probably find it easier that way. But the new suit, while have things that I like (the boots, shoulder pads) that part of the breast is a joke.

But I try to look on the bright side, now this new suit is more practical in the breasts. Still not entirely believable, but .... nature of comics?

I still like more the space suit, but that just my taste :) ... But i pick this over the first suit any day. If is properly drawn, it can even look cool.

Me too. I much rather have the spacesuit maybe bcos of how beautiful kenneth rocafort drew it. But this latest one just looks outdated and lame.

Tamarans like you said don't see the functionality of clothing and this can be seen in GLNG when they went to a planet that was created to mimic tamaranian. Even men are barely clothed, so I don't see why she needs to dress in that 80s jacket.

I'll pick the first suit over this.

Posted by WonderHunter

@sethysquare: I miss her armor >:c It just made more sense. I still believe this new outfit could look cool depending of the artist, but why they don't make a modern version of her armor? Anyway... in the end, it doesn't matter what she is wearing i always pick the books where she is, but that doesn't stop me of cursing some people.

Posted by sethysquare

@WonderHunter: Indeed. I rather they gave her better armor. So not into the 80s. But I'll still read it nonetheless

Posted by akbogert

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how vastly superior Nebezial's version of Starfire is to anything seen thus far in New 52?

Posted by Sinestro2828

Well, personally, I'm not a big fan of the new 52 Starfire, she's too different from the original Starfire in terms of personality, motivations, and the importance she puts on love and friendship...And I HATE that my fave incarnation of the Titans never officially existed in the new continuity. I don't mind Kory wearing sexy or revealing outfits as long as she remains the same strong, spirited, caring, loving individual she's always been in the past (and I'm not gonna lie, I despised the full body space suit she wore for a bit, it just seemed too bland and not at all something she would wear, not superheroish enough). And yeah, as others have stated before, the reason why Starfire usually dresses light is because of her alien cultural norms and the nature of her very alien biology, so ya can't really cover her up completely without giving an explanation, while at the same time its possible to give Kory a sexy yet functional super hero outfit (personally I still think her pre-reboot costume & her cartoon self's outfit are still suitable designs). Starfire's certainly always been a very alluring character, but there was always more to her than that as well, she was sexy and interesting as a character, she was a princess, an explorer, a warrior, a hero and friend & a lover over the years, a shining example of how even someone who lives through terrible adversity (being betrayed by her sister & sold into slavery etc) can still grow up to be a positive, hopeful person who doesn't let the hate in the world consume her....BUT they've changed so much about her she's just not the same person anymore, her history and back story have been turned completely upside down. I mean, her arch enemy, her big sister Blackfire, isn't even a super villain anymore, WHAT A WASTE! >_<

And I also don't buy her hanging around a couple of sidekick rejects like Todd and Harper instead of her old Titan buddies or the Justice League, to me Kory just doesn't work as an anti-hero.

Hope I haven't repeated anything that's already been discussed already, the new 52 has kinda weakened my interest in DC comics these days.

Posted by Sinestro2828

@akbogert: I LOVE that outfit, it TOTALLY seems like something the oldschool Kory would wear. Its still sexy, but it seems functional too.

Posted by akbogert

@Sinestro2828: I know, right? I feel like if all I had done was start a thread with that image and say "Hey, this is how Starfire should look, can we all agree on that?" this whole thing would have been far less controversial ^_^

Edited by WonderHunter

@Sinestro2828 said:

....BUT they've changed so much about her she's just not the same person anymore, her history and back story have been turned completely upside down. I mean, her arch enemy, her big sister Blackfire, isn't even a super villain anymore, WHAT A WASTE! >_<

My lord, this is why i didn't like the Starfire's arc e_e i mean, i liked the things they added her, but that could have been used in.... a smarter way. With a new tale, because really, sometimes it seem like writers can do nothing more than re-write and old tale with her. And that's really a waste, she was born with royalty, but was raised as slave. She have hang out with other teams that the titans around space, and have won her place as a interstelar heroine... my point is; you can write hundred stories with that instead of just having her repeting over and over again who the hell she is (yes, Lobdell), you just need a little imagination. Why can't writers give her new stories? This frustrates me so much that i could start a thread

And I also don't buy her hanging around a couple of sidekick rejects like Todd and Harper instead of her old Titan buddies or the Justice League, to me Kory just doesn't work as an anti-hero.

Yeah, i was firmly thinking the same, but i discover that with the right stories, i could be convinced otherwise. The three of them are broken, but together, they help each other. It make sense. I'm still not 100% convinced with the idea of Kory as an anti-hero, but i really hope James Tynion IV give this trio really good stories and don't let the fans down.