Image via DC Comics
19. New 52 Starfire
Oh, Starfire. If anything epitomizes the kind of careless sexism that’s plagued comics for so long, it’s your story. If we want to get really specific, it has to do with your costume — or lack thereof.
Starfire, whose actual name is Koriand’r, is a princess from the faraway planet Tamaran. Her older sister, Komand’r (also known as “Blackfire”) does not have her sibling’s powers of flight and the harnessing of solar energy. As a result, she grows bitter and eventually betrays her entire planet and its people. Starfire gets caught up in all of this, which involves slavery, exile, and scientific experimentation.
Fortunately, Starfire eventually escapes. She makes it to Earth and teams up with Robin to form the Teen Titans. Thereafter, she takes part in various galactic adventures, most often with the Teen Titans, and occasionally with the big names in the Justice League.
Various iterations of Starfire’s costume have always been revealing. Perhaps it’s because of her different alien culture, but human comics artists have seemed compelled to put her in the equivalent of a couple rolls of strategically placed bandages.
However, the New 52 reboot in 2011 put her in even more skimpy territory. When she wasn’t wearing a tiny bikini or conveniently placed bits of metal, Starfire simply walked around nude. It was especially strange given the pre-teen Starfire seen in the first Teen Titans animated series. Kids who saw something encouraging in the awkward, earnest Starfire there would likely feel discouraged to see her reduced to her body in the comics.
Writers tried to explain it all away with her confusion regarding human “prudery.” Still, the explanation fell flat in the face of decades of scantily-clad women in comics history.