The Golden Princess of Tamaran has wallowed in ridiculous objectification for far too long. In Red Hood and the Outlaws, Koriand’r was relegated to an over-sexualized characterization that many readers found distasteful. With Convergence over and the DC Universe wide open, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti apply the entertaining scripts and smart humor we’ve seen in the ongoing Harley Quinn series to the Teen Titans’ exiled alien princess, Starfire.
I’m not going to lie–I had big expectations for Starfire #1 and all of them were met. Conner and Palmiotti perfectly characterize Starfire throughout this issue. They spend two, well-balanced pages allowing Starfire to relate her origin to a policewoman, and then they move right into the main story. In doing this, the authors have opted to, apparently, disregard Starfire’s time with Red Hood and Arsenal (Thank you, Convergence!) and provide a clean starting point. Starfire wants to fit into Earth culture and enlists the help of an off-duty sheriff.
The dialogue between the sheriff and Starfire is perfect. There are so many moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout this issue’s pages that it’s hard to pick one as an example. Starfire’s reactions to everyday occurrences are reminiscent of the aloof and zany character from Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go!. In one panel, the sheriff tells Starfire about her grandmother and Starfire starts crying because she is “sorry your grandmother had to die.” In another panel, Starfire questions how one might “cool one’s heels.” It is this innocence about the inevitable or mundane that makes Conner and Palmiotti’s characterization so enjoyable.
As mentioned before, previous takes on Starfire have gained notoriety for how she was objectified. With that said, sexuality is an important part of Starfire. She comes from a civilization that believed in a loving, open existence. It wouldn’t be natural to dress her in a floor length, shapeless dress or take away her curiosities about the social structures of Earth. The authors do a perfect job of making Starfire sexual without over-sexualizing her. Her new sheriff friend takes her to buy pants in one scene, but she ends up with a short skirt and a revealing shirt that she deems as “comfortable.” In another scene, Starfire steps out of an outdoor, community shower completely naked. When a young man expresses the error of her actions, Starfire responds with another completely innocent explanation for her actions that does not accentuate her insatiable libidio, but her unfamiliarity with Earth customs.
Emmanuela Lupacchino’s pencils help emphasize everything that Conner and Palmiotti present in the dialogue. Luppacchino’s presentation of Starfire portrays her quirkiness and beauty, but also her strength. While it’s easy to focus on Starfire though, Luppacchino shines at portraying the beauty and strength in every character that plays a role in Starfire’s introduction to life on Earth. It should also be noted that the vibrant coloring provided by Hi-Fi fits perfectly into this excellently constructed story.
All of my expectations for this issue were exceeded. Both the story and art provide a perfect starting point for a controversial character. I look forward to seeing how this creative team continues to build on everything they got right in this issue and how Starfire will grow as a character.