The DC Comics character Starfire has long been a controversial figure.
The latest version of the character in DC’s New 52 reboot turned her into one of the most blatantly objectified female superheroes in the DCU. After much debate, Starfire finally got a costume overhaul this year, and she also got a new series as part of the “DC You” launch. Many fans hoped that under popular Harley Quinn creative team Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti, the new series would restore much-needed depth to her character.
Instead, the new Starfire has baffled, confused, and enraged fans who feel that the creators essentially turned Kori Anders into an alien bimbo.
In the free preview for the title released last December, we learned that Starfire, having recently left the superhero team Outlaws, wanted to take a long vacation and settle down somewhere she could learn more about human nature. Superman told her to go to Key West, Florida, so she promptly flew there and befriended the local sheriff.
Starfire #1 showed Kori’s journey as she awkwardly attempted to “blend in.”
The focus on Kori’s various social faux pas continued through each successive issue. The third and most recent issue showed her getting stumped by garden gnomes, watermelons, and pineapples; trying to throw a cat in a pool because she didn’t realize it could swim; attempting to drink baking soda (seriously); and blithely telling a black man he must “absorb much sunlight.”
Fans have responded to these writing decisions with a mix of amusement, bafflement, and annoyance. Readers who find the series cute have still called it “brainless,” while angrier fans called it “dumb as a freaking post.”
Part of the frustration about Kori’s ignorance in this series is that her character didn’t actually undergo a continuity reboot prior to its launch; she has presumably been living on Earth for years at this point. Starfire fan hellakoriandr explained the confusion.
Graphic Policy’s review took a different stance, shrugging off the contradiction.
[I]t might be easier to think of the change out of context. While the series is ostensibly after the events of the Red and the Outlaws series, the reader gets a better appreciation of this series if they think of it as Starfire first having arrived to Earth overall. It doesn’t make sense from a continuity standpoint, but then again neither do a lot of things under DC You. The first couple of issue in this series were a bit harder to take, but after this third issue, it is evident that the changes are meant to be a bit over-the-top, and that they are to the benefit of the series.
But many fans disagree that painting the title character as comically ignorant represented a change for the better.
“The writers are boring, clearly haven’t followed any of her previous appearances, and aren’t funny enough to think of better jokes than, ‘ha ha, ignorant foreigners who barely speak English, am I right?'” wrote ohimechin during a discussion about why Kori seemed to be so hapless at understanding basic English.
Even outside of the comedic moments, Starfire’s character seems to have undergone a significant overhaul in the new series. Classic Starfire was always a quick study and an astute reader of human nature, even before she could speak English. Now, she has evidently been relegated to making obvious mistakes in judgment, such as continually attacking a monster that only grows bigger with every hit, and, well, whatever this is.
Still, there are plenty of fans of Starfire’s new direction.
I'm still thinking about #starfire today… It so perfectly captures an adult Starfire coming to earth for the first time.— Helena Bertinelli Step On Me Please (@IchBinErica) August 13, 2015
As the tweet above points out, the new Kori seems to represent a concerted effort to bring her character more in line with the Starfire of the popular Teen Titans animated series. (The character is voiced by Hynden Walch.) But the line between “cute and clueless” and “offensively ignorant” seems to be a thin one.
“Apparently you can’t be cute without being a complete idiot,” as hellakoriandr put it.
Hopefully, future issues iron out the problems and restore Kori’s intuitive nature and smart judgment. Three issues in, it’s a change fans are ready for.
Screengrab via Comixology