Monday, September 09, 2013

Which Starfire had the skimpier costume? That's open to debate.

A couple days ago, Bully had a pic up of Lois Lane reading an issue of Starfire; the Starfire in question being the short-lived DC sword-and-sorcery book from the seventies. I found a few issues from that ill-fated series back at the Spokane Comicon, and was saving the last issue for "The End" week; but was having a hard time writing about this book.

Partly because it's not great, but maybe it could've been. The same could be said for the other books in the same sword-and-sorcery push from DC, like Stalker and Beowulf. Mike Grell's Warlord turned out to be the breakout book of that lot, and went on for 133 issues; while most of the rest of the characters in that launch have barely a dozen appearances to date. Starfire's name would be appropriated by Marv Wolfman and George Perez for the Teen Titans character; but classic Starfire did appear recently in Time Masters: Vanishing Point.

Like most of the books in that push, though, Starfire was a sword and sorcery and sci-fi book; and kind of reminds me of Marvel's Killraven. On an alien world, where humanity is enslaved by the brutish Mygorg; Starfire was raised to be a concubine, but fled with a warrior-priest named Dagan. He trained her as a warrior, before being captured and killed, and Starfire began a revolution against the Mygorg. At first, it was seemingly only for revenge for the death of her lover, but Starfire found herself trying to teach freedom to people who never knew how. So it's a pretty standard, Robin Hood-style, rebels against the evil empire set-up, perfectly sound for a book like this. Except Starfire was a pretty, vaguely Asian young woman; which had to be unusual for a seventies comic; and because she was a pretty girl there's an ugly recurrent sexism in the book: even among her followers, many thought if they gave her the high hard one, she'd give up this revolution nonsense and get back in the kitchen and make them a sandwich. It's a short series, only eight issues, but that still seems to occur a lot.

Coveting Starfire as an object is doubtless kind of creepy in itself, but the men that want her don't really seem to care that she's about the only thing keeping the revolution going: if they got to sleep with her, they act like it's cool with them if they'll have to live as slaves, and don't seem particularly invested in the revolution either. And then the Mygorg, and most of the bad guys in the book, well, they probably want her too. Robin Hood never had to worry about being raped by the Sheriff of Nottingham. (Did he? To the best of my knowledge...) The art doesn't seem to be especially cheesecake or anything, but there does seem to be an awful lot of leering.

Sadly, Starfire didn't catch on, and was cancelled with #8. I do hope it isn't sexist of me to say, I love her early green costume, which with the bare and covered areas, reminds me of classic Star Trek outfits; and it's hot. Hope that isn't covetous...Scans from Starfire #5, "Here There Be Monsters!" Written by Elliot S! Maggin, art by Mike Vosburg and Vince Colletta.

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