Once again I find myself tackling the second half of my week’s comic haul with far less enthusiasm than the first half. Because, obviously, I read the ones I thought I would like first. This is a plan with drawbacks!
Mind you, if I’d read Red Hood and the Outlaws first I might have given up on comics altogether. Seriously. It’s that bad.
Nightwing first, which was… well, meh. Inoffensive and vaguely informative in that it tells us all the important things about Dick Grayson and where he is in his personal timeline. Plus the circus is back in town so we get a replay on that backstory too, for people who are completely new.
I really liked the idea that he didn’t like the circus being in Gotham City because the city finds a way to use everything he loves against him. I liked that Batman (for once) didn’t make an appearance, because frankly, he’s being way overused in the New 52. I liked the crack about how being a circus clown in Gotham was no fun at all. Dick himself isn’t too annoying, though I did find his judgemental inner thoughts about Bruce and his rich man privilege kind of annoying. Because, come on. Loft apartment does not give you indie cred.
But pretty much I only like Dick Grayson when he’s being called on his shit by Barbara, Helena or Starfire, so there wasn’t a lot for me in this one. As a side note, thanks to tiny writing and a bunch of splash pages with little text boxes, this was the first comic which was consistently awkward to read on the iPad rather than just having a couple of pages where I had to make fiddly adjustments.
Also, the art is kind of doofy.
Verdict: Competent, but forgettable.
Yeah, the double whammy lack of Gail Simone and Oracle pretty much made me uninterested in this one, which was pretty much the only DC comic I regularly read through the Noughties. But… it’s a girl super team, and Black Canary! I wanted to know what they were doing with both.
Sigh. Not much, it seems. I am not sure why Birds of Prey has been reinvented as a ‘female criminals doing good’ book as opposed to a more genuine force for good, and I’m a bit cranky at the entire lack of context. We still don’t know whether Barbara’s wheelchair time included Oracle, or if the original Birds of Prey fit into this continuity, and the appearance of Babs in this comic didn’t really explain that. (I like it as a mystery in Batgirl as long as it’s answered soon – but it’s a frustrating hole in this title)
Dinah Lance is now a criminal herself, apparently on the run after killing someone with a punch. Not sure what storyline that’s a carryover from, but taking it just as the throwaway line it is here – what? Seriously? Of all the superheroes having to face charges for undue violence, it’s the martial artist with a magical canary cry? Why a punch, of all possible moves? It’s just confusing.
Dinah’s sidekick Ev/Sparrow seems like a fun addition to her team-in-the-making and I liked the chemistry between the two of them, though the religious commentary seemed a bit jumbled and out of place. Sad we only got a sneaky hint about Katana in this issue. And Babs came across as quite judgy and condescending. I MISS ORACLE SO MUCH OMG!
Verdict: Love me some Canary, but this is Birds of Prey in name only without Oracle as the eyes in the sky and moral centre of the story. BABS AND DINAH FOREVER AND HELENA TOO IF SHE’S AROUND.
Actually, where is Huntress in this reboot? Too much to hope with all these ‘back to basics’ versions of the characters that she gets to be Bruce & Selina’s daughter this time around? All that Italian mob stuff has been bugging me since the early 90’s.
So I’m going to get ranty. You might want to sit back, pop in the earbuds, make sure the breakables are secure, that sort of thing.
WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK HAVE THESE PEOPLE DONE TO STARFIRE?
You know why I picked this comic up? I was vaguely interested in the whole Red Hood/Jason Todd thing, but only vaguely. Pretty much the main reason was because I’m going through major Teen Titans nostalgia right now, and I caught sight of the cover, and remembered that this was the one that Starfire was in. It seemed a weird place to put her, but I love me some original Teen Titans, and given the lack of Donna Troy I thought, let’s see how Kory’s getting on.
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT KORY. Who is, by the way, ‘Kori’ now. Obviously the ‘y’ made her sound too intelligent.
I mostly know Starfire/Princess Ko’riandr/Kory from Godiyeva’s old 80’s Teen Titans comics, and a bunch I ended up collecting on my own. She was a space princess, a warrior with super strength and high levels of military training, and she was all kinds of awesome. Sure, she wore an outfit more appropriate to a lingerie catalogue designed by a hardware store, and she had a backstory involving slavery, but she stood proud and strong in her silly space bikini, her hair ROCKED THE EIGHTIES, and she was taller than her boyfriend.
In more recent years, Wikipedia tells me, she has had some major plotlines in a save-the-universe trio with Animal Man and Adam Strange, and basically has been out there doing her thing, occasionally almost getting it together with significant ex Dick Grayson/Nightwing. As recently as Infinite Crisis, she was out there being a warrior and fighting intergalactic bad guys.
In Red Hood and the Outlaws, however… let me count the ways. For a start, she is drawn constantly as if she is in a slow motion porn film, complete with curving back, languid limbs and ‘how can I stand so as to best show off my curves.’ She is, purely, a sex object designed for the male gaze. Her warrior skills are entirely at the disposal of Jason Todd/Red Hood and his mate Roy Harper/Arsenal, her current allies. As an alien, apparently, she can barely tell humans apart, and has thus no interest in her history with the Teen Titans or any of her old friends. They mean nothing to her.
She is sexually available to both men, claiming that this is something she wants. And maybe it is something she wants. But it seems awfully convenient, especially as she has apparently had an entire personality bypass, or a frontal lobotomy. Or is possibly just stoned out of her head.
Starfire has been reduced from a hero and warrior to a brainless sexbot. She is placed in each frame like a pretty, pouting piece of furniture, and contributes nothing to the story. As far as I can make out, her only narrative reasons for being there are a) so Jason Todd can thumb his nose at Dick Grayson & b) so Roy can get laid. Or, more specifically, so that Roy and Jason can share a girl. Who doesn’t answer back, or seem particularly aware of her surroundings.
Verdict: a seedy bromance which screws over a classic DC heroine for the sake of… I don’t even know. Giving all those feminist comics critics something to rage about? Believe me, I won’t be back. Even if it turns out to be a colossal fake out. Oh I hope it is a colossal fake out. For Kory’s sake.