Review | Red Hood and the Outlaws #1

Starfire has what must be the best body in all of the DC Universe (that's saying a lot). Why else would writer Scott Lobdell and artist Kenneth Rocafort spend so much time lustily featuring it as the most important thing going on in this first issue? And why else would an alien have silicon breasts? But let's take it seriously for just a second. Why are Lobdell and Rocafort allowed to objectify Starfire so thoroughly? Jason Todd (a.k.a. Red Hood) rescues Roy Harper (a.k.a. Speedy) from a Middle Eastern prison, with no small help from Starfire. They then hit the Caribbean, so that after we've been treated to Starfire's costume-cum-pasties, we get numerous shots of her bikini-clad body. And then, after Jason hints that he's had sex with her, she wanders over to Roy and asks, "Do you want to have sex with me?" My guess is that Lobdell will claim this is the ultimate form of feminism and sexual empowerment: A supernaturally attractive woman has the confidence and power to put her above the fray, granting her total sexual freedom. But really that sounds to me more like a male writer's dream of the ultimate form of feminism, one in which a beautiful woman feels so untied to sexual mores that she could randomly select any hapless man as a sex partner. Feminists, I suspect, would rather wear clothing.

All of this is starting to make me feel downright prudish. I really wish it wasn't still necessary to scold major comics publishers for continuing to perpetuate this bullshit. It's also worth calling out Lobdell for his politically tin-eared opening, in which Red Hood springs Speedy from DC's fictional Qurac: "He came to the Middle Eastern nation of Qurac to to (sic) help the people here overthrow a brutal dictator. Turns out—surprise, surprise—that the people turned out to be just as bad." I know Qurac is DC's fill-in for a terrorist state, but claiming that "the people" are just as bad as the dictator at a time when the Arab Spring has taken down Qaddafi and Mubarak, dictators have turned weapons on their own people, and protestors continue to press the issue of human rights in the Middle East, it's just outrageously cynical and behind the times. And, like the rest of this book, it's trash.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)