The GeeksverseMy God! Batman Had Sex!

My God! Batman Had Sex!
Published on Thursday, September 29, 2011 by

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or a die-hard Marveler who ignored anything DC related, you know about the controversy surrounding the end of Catwoman #1 and Starfire’s depiction in Red Hood & The Outlaws #1.

If you haven’t, the basics are this:
-Catwoman and Batman have sex on a rooftop. The comic shows some heavy petting.
-Starfire walks around in a skimpy bikini and has sex with both Jason Todd and Roy Harper.

It’s caused quite an outrage over the internet and unlike the dozen or so sites/blogs that are freaking out over it, I have the opposite (almost) reaction.

First off I’ll say that I didn’t pick up Catwoman #1, not because of the content, but because I had zero interest in it. I have yet to pick up a Catwoman comic. Why start now?

I did pick up Red Hood and I read it and I read the scenes and I just kept reading. Nothing about them stood out to me as bad or anyway at all until read the internet firestorm.

One of the biggest gripes is that the portrayals objectify women and reinforce the negative female comic character stereotype. With this there really is no arguement because it’s true for Starfire at least. There really aren’t any redeeming qualities to the new character in Red Hood, but that isn’t so much Lobdell’s (the writer’s) fault as he only took what was already existing and just cranked it up a notch or two.

With Catwoman though, what is different from how she’s normally been shown? I can remember alot of instances when she would make overt advances to Batman and a couple where she draped herself over him and tried to seduce him. Just because she pawed at Batman and wanted to have sex with him doesn’t objectify women or make her a bad character.

One of the major talking points is how the opening page is just a shot of her chest. Did these people not read any of the Catwoman stories when Jim Balent was drawing her or what about Yanick Paquette in the first issues of the recent Batman, Inc? My review of the book even called out the many cheesecake shots of Catwoman that Paquette had put in there.

Speaking of the first issues of Batman, Inc and sex in comics… That issue quite clearly hinted at Batman and Catwoman having sex prior to the scene we’re shown. And that’s not the only recent case of sex in super hero comics which are considered all ages.

Issues of Secret Six showed Scandal in bed with Knockout (down?), Catman chasing after Chesire to save his son (which obviously means they had sex) and Deadshot in bed with the banshee character whose name escapes me right now. And don’t even bring up that Secret Six was meant to be a mature book because it wasn’t, it was marketed to the same people that read Wonder Woman and Superman. There was no mature label on the cover and if the content (a book about super villians) should have been enough to say “this isn’t all ages” then the same can be said for Red Hood And The OUTLAWS (it even has outlaws in the title).

Avengers Academy showed scenes with teens and sex. They hinted that Finesse and Reptyl had been engaged in sex, showed Justice and Ultra Girl pawing at eachother in costume, showed Tigra grabbing Hank Pym by the hand and pulling him away to go to bed because she was horny (and showed them in bed post-coital later) and they even had Veil barge into Stryker’s room for the purpose of having sex (they didn’t, but that’s besides the point, the intent was there).

Not that long ago in Avengers Hawkeye and the Wasp hooked up and only because they were horny and wondered “why hadn’t we before”. When Hawkeye came back to life (after being killed by the Scarlet Witch) he found her in Transia, where she had no memory, and had sex with her. They even joke about that in a recent Avengers: Children’s Crusade issue.

And can’t forget the scene where Wasp is moaning and Hank Pym, who had shrunk down, walks up her naked body all wet. Where was he I wonder?

And can’t forget Peter David’s X-Factor. There are so many references to sex between characters that it’s a wonder they all haven’t been with eachother yet.

Sex has always been in comics. One of the early issues of X-Factor showed Cyclops and Jean Grey having sex on a couch. It was all shadowed, but it was obvious what they were doing.

Most of the outrage is directed towards Starfire. So let’s examine that one shall we?

The main points of conflict are:
1- The way she treats sex
2- The skimpiness of the bikini she’s wearing
3- If DC wanted new readers why didn’t they make her more like the cartoon Starfire which had 2 million viewers

Let’s tackle them one by one.

1 – What is out of character with her openness about sex? What is out of character about what she is wearing? She was a model and was never shy about being naked around others, which bothered her boyfriend Nightwing alot of times. She’s always worn a very skimpy outfit.

And the attitude about sex? It’s always been there. She just never acted on it because it bothered her friends. Her last comics appearance, prior to the new 52 relaunch, was in Tony Bedard’s REBELS. Guess what she was doing in that book? Yep, she was having sex with Captain Comet and she even makes a point of telling him that she can only ever (Dick Grayson/Nightwing) and that her people have a more open attitude about sex. And she’s saying this to a guy that was raised in the 50s (and has that mentality) and is falling for her.

So this is nothing new for Starfire. It’s always been there. Lobdell just made it more open. If people want to be mad at Lobdell for doing something to her character, join me in being mad with this stupid memory thing he gave her. That’s butchering the character. And it’s not amnesia, it’s attention deficit disorder.

2- Yes, DC made the right decision in not going with the semi-transparent bikini that was their first idea. That definately would have made the book deserve an M rating. But what is wrong with the bikini she does wear?

Does anyone rememeber the times that Marvel and Image released swimsuit issues and Image (Top Cow) released a lingerie issue?

Yes, this does get into the fact that alot of comics do needless cheesecake shots and alot of female character’s outfits are needlessly skimpy. But that is an industry wide issue and not just Starfire alone. Don’t single out one character.

3- This arguement doesn’t make sense. At least I can see the reasoning in the other two, but not this one.

Facts: Teen Titans was a kids show, aimed at kids, based on a super hero comic book that was aimed at the typical comic book demographic which was not kids. Facts: Teen Titans was on from 2003 to 2006, which was almost 6 years ago. Facts: Teen Titans had around 2 million viewers and DC had two Teen Titans comics on the shelves, the regular one and one based on the cartoon.

So with those facts, why does the cartoon matter to Starfire’s appearance in Red Hood?

Just because 2 million people watched the cartoon (5+ years ago) doesn’t mean they would read a comic book now 5 years later. If it did, and fans of the cartoon directly translated to sales in comics then why weren’t they buying it 5+ years ago when there was a comic book based on the cartoon Teen Titans and Starfire was appearing in the Teen Titans comic book?

If you look at her last appearance in comics (REBELs), it’s closer to her Red Hood appearance then her previous Teen Titans appearance and her cartoon appearance. And really, her cartoon appearance was pretty opposite of her comic appearance. In comics she was always portrayed as independent, strong, a warrior and confident. In the cartoons she was shy, naive, clingy and afraid.

Yes, part of the new 52 was to attract new readers, but why should DC have looked towards fans of a cartoon (and not the actual comic itself) in their search for new readers? That doesn’t make any sense. It assumes that those 2 million people, now 6 years older, would be interested in reading about the character after a 5+ year hiatus.

And in attracting new readers, shouldn’t DC have tried to do something different with it’s characters? Instead of giving us the “same but in different clothing” (which is what the majority of the new 52 is), what is wrong with doing something different?

Was this the right angle of difference to take? Probably not, but at least they tried something different. Mature and adult doesn’t necessarily mean “bad language, sex and violence” but it also doesn’t mean what Marvel does with it’s Max titles either.

I do think they should have slapped an M label on both books, Catwoman and Red Hood, and called it a day. Then there would have been no controversy.

And I can’t be the only one that would like reading a more mature comic that takes place in the same universe/continuity as the all-ages books? I don’t read the Max titles because I don’t want to read another continuity.

But having a universe of titles that have different ratings?

Now that would be something different.

At least DC tried to do something different, it’s too bad they didn’t take it far enough (and by that I mean making the books rated M).

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