When DC Comics decided to relaunch their family of comics to appeal to a younger audience, they changed an entire universe. Not only did they change continuity and character origins, but they also revamped our favorite heroes with new costumes. One of the heroes to get a total makeover was the beloved Koriand’r, or Starfire as mainstream fans know her by.
Starfire was created in the 1980s as a character that would fight alongside Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad as part of a junior justice league. This team was later joined by Wonder Girl, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy and became known as the Teen Titans. The Teen Titans were a hit with audiences because they were teenage superheroes who not only had to fight crime but also had to deal with being a teen. Eventually the comic was adopted into various Teen Titans cartoons in the early 2000s that are some of the first anime-style hero cartoons of the day. The shows also garnered a large audience and Teen Titans Go, a mini short, is still airing today.
In the original Teen Titans comics of the 80s, Starfire was an alien princess who crashed to Earth on an enemy spaceship that had captured her as a test subject by another alien race. Although her story hasn’t changed too much in the relaunch called The New 52: Red Hood and the Outlaws, her appearance has. Starfire’s first costumes consisted of monokinis and calf-high boots. It was explained that the reason for this was that her body absorbed UV rays and used them as fuel for flying; a special genetic adaption of her people. From one point that is understandable, however that did not stop the Teen Titans shows from using a skirt, belly-shirt, thigh high boots, neck and arm armor as her new costume. The show producers obviously felt that her costume was too revealing for the intended viewers and changed it up a bit despite the fact that an iconic character like Wonder Woman who also wears a monokini never has her costume changed in children’s shows.
So what’s the point of all this information? Who cares what Starfire is wearing?
A long time ago in the 80s comic books had a mostly male audience, heroines like Starfire and Batgirl were used to provide love interests to their male counterparts. Which is why they had costumes that were quite inappropriate for battle and why they were anatomically perfect. Males had no problem with the way the female characters were dressed which was usually far more revealing than the male characters. However as we enter the modern age of comic books we begin to see iconic costume changes such as Starfire’s new garb. Yet instead of the costume being practical or less degrading to female comic readers, it has become the opposite.
Comic Vine provides some great information on Starfire’s costumes and her development as a character.
Starfire in the original comics (Tales of the Teen Titans).
Starfire as she appeared in the Teen Titans show.
Starfire in the New 52 relaunch.
If you look at Starfire’s new costume, you’ll notice that she has unnecessary parts of her body covered when compared to the rest of her body. Her chest and vital organs are completely exposed despite her neck having some useless armor. It begs the question of who the intended audience is and why the artists re-created her into this deeply sexual character. Her costume defies the laws of physics on Earth, and is very impractical. What does this mean for the world of cosplay? The problem isn’t the difficulty associated with making a similar costume but the fact that a beloved character becomes one that you’d feel very off-put cosplaying simply because a convention is not a beach or a lingerie store.
The only comment the DC staff has released in regards to Starfire, is that she wears a revealing costume so she has more skin available to absorb UV rays. If that truly is the case, then why are her boots so long? Wouldn’t it make sense for them to be shorter so she can absorb even more sun? It’s obvious that sex sells and comic book sales are at all time high with the relaunch of DC’s lineup. While that may be the case, readers everywhere are piping in on the issue of sexualization of female characters. DC has gained a lot of female readers, so why is DC insisting on making its empowering heroines little else than voluptuous and revealing love interests? Perhaps it is because 99 percent of DC artists and writers are males and don’t understand the issues revolving around female characters as well as women do. Or maybe comics are still the “Playboys” of the nerd generation. You decide.