Sitting down to actually write this I find that the title I picked is not entirely appropriate. I am not actually really defending Starfire I am defending an interpretation of her in a book which I throughly enjoyed. Looking back I find that there is 2 major complaints about her character in Red Hood and the Outlaws. One is that she is overtly sexual, Two is the fact that she is written to be unable to tell the difference between people and she easily forgets them when they are not around. The first claim that she is overly sexual in this book compared to others I find ridiculous, especially since you can look at her comicvine page and midway down you will see a picture of her naked which appeared in a pre-Relaunch DC book. The second complaint I find a little more interesting because it actually relates to one of the focus areas in the Psychology Degree I earned and the area I will be pursuing in a Post-Graduate Ph.D. program. In my opinion the fact that she is unable to tell the difference between people makes her a better character, this comes from my interest in Social Psychology specifically Stereotyping which I draw my opinions from.
I'm sure everyone has heard at one time or another someone say that members of an outgroup look alike. It seems like a vaguely racist idea that does hold some truth. We see members of outgroups as being more homogeneous, they not only look alike but act and think alike. Let me stop here to explain this idea. ONE this is a result of natural processes where the human brain groups similar stimuli together for efficiency and in order for it to stay efficient it needs to be somewhat simplistic. TWO just because it is natural does not mean it is right, as one of my professors was very found of saying cancer is natural doesn't mean that people have to like it or accept it. THREE this diminishes with enough exposure that you begin to reclassify the group breaking it up into smaller and smaller groups needless to say it takes a long time. FOUR this isn't just about race, people tend to see most groups that aren't them as one dimensional groups that all think the same be it a different race, political party, social cliche, or any other group.
There are a couple reasons people tend to think outgroups looks similar, especially if they did not grow up around members of the outgroup. For one as children the connections in our brain are forming based on those around. There is a very interesting study that showed that at very young ages children can tell the difference between 2 different monkeys but as they grow older they are unable too. Also as I mentioned before our brain naturally begins to group everything together, its how we are able to process an infinite dynamic world when we have limited cognitive processing abilities.
All of this brings us to Starfire. In Red Hood and the Outlaws some people were very upset that she wasn't able to tell people apart and she didn't really remember people she knew before. As I hopefully explained above, people are unable to do that with other people, do you really think that a member of an alien race can do that with humans. Its kinda like the children and the monkeys. At this point in our lives its probably pretty hard for a person to tell the difference between two different monkeys that look similar, to Starfire we are all monkeys. Some people may say that it should be different because they were together so long and they saved each others lives but the opposite is going to emerge. Imagine if a monkey saved your life you would probably never forget that monkey. Now imagine at various points in your life 100 monkeys saved your life. Do you really think you would be able to pick one of those out of a line up?
Now I mentioned a lot of studies, hopefully you can take me at my word and not make me pull them out but trust me they exist and if you want I can go through the articles that I read about outgroup homogeneity and figure out some way to post them
This past few weeks everyone has been talking about the DC Revamp so I figured everyone is probably wondering what my opinions are, I'm kidding I'm honestly surprised when people read the things I write. But I've been seeing a lot of other people write stuff so I figure why not throw my hat in the ring. I'm just going to go ahead and come out with it though, I am excited for this revamp. I also hate the word revamp but that's a different story.
And I'm excited for a lot of different reasons. Firstly and probably most importantly, this revamp has made me excited about comics in a way that I haven't been in a while. I regularly read the DC blog but this past week it is the first thing I check every morning. Every day I check and see what books are going to be released, who is going to be writing the books, and what the characters are going to look like. Granted every once in a while I see a costume that I don't like, I love the current Red Robin costume and have less affection for the new one, but I would say that 75% of the titles have been peaking my interest. Peter Milligan writing some of the best Vertigo characters in a book together seems like a great idea, we are finally getting a new Static book, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, The Demon, Red Hood teaming up with Arsenal, Firestorm, Green Arrow, JLI, Mister Terrific, Deadman. I can not wait to read this books, even though I know that most of them will probably not make it past the 6th or 12th issue. I have always wanted to read Deadman and Mister Terrific and I'm looking forward to picking these books up.
This brings me to another point which is more a counter to what I have been seeing every once in a while I see someone complain about a redesign. I really find this kinda ridiculous. Its been scientifically proven that the original Nightwing costume is the worst costume ever in the history of everything.
Last night people were upset with the Harley Quinn costume. I actually kinda liked her new look and I didn't seem to have the same disdain that other people seem to have. Today I finally realized why I didn't mind. If you have not read Joker, first off if you haven't read Joker what is wrong with you go read it now I can wait, Harley Quinn is a stripper in the book. The character is so perfect though it just fits so her in Suicide Squad seems to be channeling that.
Finally it is true that higher number issues do make it harder for new readers to pick up the books. I started reading comics in 07 or 08 so I still remember looking at Batman and seeing it was over 600 issues. The first books I got were relatively short in their runs, I got Batman and the Outsiders because it was just starting, Green Arrow and Black Canary had started recently, Batman Confidential was still relatively new. I started reading Batman months after I started reading comics because honestly the number intimidated me. One of my favorite books now is Hellblazer, and I didn't start reading that until I saw that there was a new story arc starting, I have since gone back and picked up the trades but when I was a new reader I definitely went for the books that were relatively new. Hopefully a new group of readers will come and start reading new books and hopefully after they read Justice League Dark they will go back and start reading Hellblazer and Shade and Madame Xanadu. Hopefully people will pick up The Red Hood and the Outlaws and go back and pick up Under the Hood.
Start the Conversation
Long story short I am going to say no. Although since most people probably aren't going to take my word for it I guess I'll go into some details.
It is sometimes proposed that without Batman Gotham wouldn't have the criminal problem that it does. Some people believe that people flock to Gotham because of Batman, an idea that was even proposed in Batman Begins when Gordon talks about escalation because of Batman. I do not believe this to be the case though, I believe that the Joker is the reason for Gotham's eccentric villains.
If you look at social learning theory in psychology people are likely to imitate behaviors that they see others being rewarded. Other eccentric or mentally ill criminals in the DCU see Joker performing crimes theatrically and they imitate those behaviors. Before Joker there was not the same criminals, they tended to be more normal in Gotham like the mob and just normal street criminals, with a possible exception of an early Catwoman in Year 1. After Joker emerged he was rewarded with public attention, and also money from the crimes he committed, and the others adopted their own crime personas to be like him.
Anyways I am writing this with very little sleep and I may expand on these ideas sometime in the future. This was just on my mind.
Honestly I have a love hate relationship with giant crossover story arcs with tons of tie ins. Especially since when one ends another seems to start up right away. Right after Blackest Night came Brightest day, and as thats coming to an end Flashpoint is beginning. I honestly do not believe that am the only one who has been getting bored of these. But something happened today that got me excited for this: I found out that Peter Milligan will be doing the Secret 7 book and it appears to star Shade, The Changing Man. That right there sold me on this story, I loved the Shade books and I loved him in Hellblazer recently and I am actually interested in seeing him interact with some alternate versions of DC characters.