Thursday, September 29, 2011

Un-heroic . . .

DC just took a rather unprecedented and controversial step, re-releasing 52 of its titles and rebooting them. Many long-time fans of books like Justice League, Batman and Superman cried foul, but many (myself included) thought this was an intriguing idea, a chance for non-fans, often intimidated by a long-running book's complex mythology, to get in on the ground floor. It was a chance to gain new fans, and to take a familiar book in an entirely new direction.

Unfortunately for DC, this seems to mean taking a few of their titles in an entirely new, pandering, low-brow direction.

Now, I have been reading comics since I was a little girl, and I grew up with books like Batman and X-Men, and while I always loved many of the heroines I always wondered how they managed to fight crime while sporting triple-D's (surely these got in the way of punching a criminal in the face). But, I accepted a certain amount of objectification because I understood that comics are intended for a mostly-male audience, drawn by mostly-male artists, and men like to look at gigantic boobs. I kept reading because I got to see Catwoman kick ass and shoot sassy comebacks at Batman, and I got to see Rogue kick bad-guys in the head and call them "shugah" while doing it. Sure, they were unrealistically sexualized, but they were heroines with brains and usually decent dialogue, and they were around to move the stories along.

The above image is from the new 52 title Red Hood and the Outlaws, and it is of one of my favorite DC heroines, Starfire. If this image was the worst the book had to offer, it would slightly annoy me. But, as I said, I've come to expect a certain amount of pointless objectification in comics. What really annoys me about what's been done to Starfire isn't about how she's being drawn now. It's about how she's being written.

Starfire has always been a fish-out-of-water, an alien who doesn't always get Earth customs, but who is a pretty sweet character who manages to kick ass too. She was a member of the Teen Titans (and subsequent groups), not due to the size of her breasts, but because of her actions, her desire to help people. To be a hero.

 " . . .she's not doing anything but wearing a tiny bikini to get attention . . .I want her to be a hero, fighting things and be strong and helping people. . .because she's what inspires me to be good."
The new Starfire does nothing except sleep around and wear skimpy clothing. That makes me really sad, because I remember my 7-year-old self reading comics and looking up to Wonder Woman and Psylocke and Jean Grey.

If this were the only example of DC pandering to the sweaty teenage boy who wants new jerk-off material, it would irritate me, but I'd move on. But they've managed to ruin my FAVORITE DC HEROINE too, Catwoman.

The relaunch of Catwoman in so relentlessly smutty and pointless that it's almost obscene. And, I'm not in the least a prude; I don't mind seeing two characters get it on. But, there has to be a point to it. Batman and Catwoman end up having full-on, completely anonymous sex in the last panel, in costume, just for reader-titillation. These are not two characters who have had a slow burn for several issues, where they have had to grapple with their conflicting aims and views or have flirted with each other and almost-but-not-quite made out. These are two random people who don't even know each other yet. What's the pay-off besides a little voyeurism? That's not why I read comics. If I wanted porn, I'd get porn, for Christ's sake.

DC, I'm really disappointed in you. Comics are for more than just horny 14-year-old boys, and women can be heroes, and not just party favors with boobs. It's shameful that you should need to be reminded of this.

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