Strange Comic Trends: Another Pair of 38s
The medium of comics is certainly not without controversy, and increasingly lately in the manner in which it depicts women. It would seem as though the medium has been going through a pretty rapid change in the past year in terms of how to present its female characters, and this is an indication that the medium as a whole is changing. It is a necessary change as the demographics of readers if changing, and so what is looked for in a female character these days is much more like solid writing as opposed to a revealing costume. In the past few years there have been a few different developments which have caused fans to voice their concerns for the direction of the medium and its treatment of its female characters. For instance the alternate cover for Spider-Woman #1 made a lot of readers wonder if there was ever going to be any change, and the comments about feminism and Wonder Woman caused many to raise their eyebrows.
One of the points in comic history was that of the launch of the new 52. Fans were promised that new approaches were going to be taken and that characters were going to be revitalized for a modern day treatment. The result was a bit of a mixed bag, some creators shook up the normal and gave the readers something really new, and some other characters just got costume changes. There was no bigger flashpoint of any character than surrounded Starfire and her depiction in Red Hood and the Outlaws. While there were aspects of the character which were in-line with what had come before, there was also a backlash over her depiction in this series. With Jason Todd and Roy Harper as the unapologetic frat boys, Starfire was turned into the dream sorority girl, one that wore almost nothing and solicited sex from strangers. At one point she was even referred to by her breast size alone (a pair of 38s). Obviously a lot of fans were a bit taken aback by this new representation of the character as the change in her case was to make her a two dimensional being judged only for her appearance, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what female comic readers wanted.
In the intervening years since the launch of the new 52, there seems to have been a renaissance in the medium, especially with its treatment of female characters as being capable as heroes without revealing their whole bodies to do so. In the past year there has been this new focus on Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman, Batgirl, Ms. Marvel and Olive Silverlock, and it seemed as though the medium was catching up to demographics a lot more quickly than anyone had ever imagined. It thus makes the new launch of Starfire all the more curious. She is a little different than what we got during the new 52 relaunch, and while there are a lot of jokes at her expense as a fish out of water as an alien living in Key West, the same jokes also come off a bit as making her seem like a bit of a dumb blonde. That being the case, the writers even managed to replicate closely enough the description of Starfire as only being her breasts, as when she is trying to arrange to rent a room from two rowdy guys she offers the fact that she has three big ones ($3000) to spend but one of her admirers says that she has only two that he can see (her breasts). While the character is not treated as lasciviously as in her new 52 relaunch, it would equally seem as though the writers didn’t get the memo about the change underway in the medium, and without a change in outlook, Starfire might find herself left behind once again.