Saturday, June 20, 2009

My problem with Raven’s costume

She was raised to be devoid of emotion right? From what I’ve seen of her backstory* she wasn’t given a whole lot of agency when growing up. She had to feel nothing because otherwise Trigon would take her over in some manner, use her for evil. The way I’ve interpreted her upbringing is that she didn’t get to make decisions about anything – she was kind of an automaton. When she was brought back to human society she had to learn how to be human again, and suddenly learn how to take choices, have emotions and grow into her own person. Without emotions I don’t think you can truly have a character.

So if she wasn’t give any choice growing up, if she had to be obedient and quash her emotions and do only what she was told without questioning, then that means that someone else has picked out her costume. A rather sexy provocative costume with thigh high boots**, cut away gaps at the side of the torso to show the breasts (sometimes), and all in all is rather skimpy (excepting the cloak of course). Now someone else choosing to dress a teenage girl in that way is pretty exploitative, especially when the girl in question probably doesn’t really understand what the style of dress means.

The fact that she kept wearing it is also rather creepy, because when she came back into human society she would have been rather innocent of the world, and now she’ll have half the blokes and lesbians on the earth leering at her. The fact that she can feel emotions and all means she’ll have an idea of what people’re thinking, which can’t be pleasant.

It reminds me of that issue of Batgirl where Babs takes Cass on holiday and gives her a tiny skimpy bikini to wear. Cass can’t deal with it because she can read the body language of all the blokes and see what they want to do to her. At least most of us can ignore or may not notice sexual harassment on the street, but if you can read body language then it must become really oppressive and aggressive.

*My knowledge of her backstory comes from the current Teen Titans run, so it's quite likely there's a lot I don't know. If anyone would like to fill in the gaps That's be much appreciated.

**I know she doesn't always have thigh high boots but when artists change the costume for one issue, without an in context explanation, I get the idea that they are intending that version as the definitive costume, so for the current issue you can just forget about past options.


Regina Legaspi said...

Raven's costume never made sense to me either. It's like no matter how much it covers her body, it still has to be some sort of sexy.

She DID have a costume redesign Tony Daniel did during the One Year Later event (the one on the right) which I think best fits her personality and she's supposed to be a teenager when she was reborn. She wore it also in the Raven one-shot mini (which was pretty ok). But when Judd Winick started Titans, she was put back in the original outfit. The costume change didn't last very long and I stopped reading Titans cuz it got kinda stupid and the art was bad.

Saranga said...

The art on Titans was horrible.
That costume redesign is lovely though, thanks for pointing me to it.

notintheface said...

The only really fair test for this, IMHO, is to view the original Perez look for her. Sometimes other artists tend to customize the costumes over the years. THey may make the costumes more or less revealing. Compare the original Keith Giffen/Wally Wood Power Girl look with how she's currently drawn to see what I mean. Or, for an example of the opposite direction, compare Michael Turner's rendition of Supergirl's costume to Jamal Igle's.

I'd say go into your comics store and grab an original Wolfman/Perez Titans trade like, say, THE JUDAS CONTRACT, and see Perez' original design.

Saranga said...

I have been thinking about getting hold of old Teen Titans stuff, so will check it out. Ta for the suggestion.

ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

Raven was my favorite character when I was in High School (or the equivalent in my country). The original design by George Pérez wasn't meant to be that "sexy". In fact, it was somewhat elegant and cold, something that fit Raven quite well.
Of course, ever since, she's been through a lot of changes. So many, that she has become hard to understand.
As for the sexiness and the age stuff, keep in mind that she's Donna's and Dick's age. The thing that she got "reborn" into a teenager doesn't mean she's any younger.
Other than that, very little about the way she's been portrayed makes any sense to me. Pairing her with Gar is a big no-no, for example.

Saranga said...

So she's more like mid twenties right? that I didn't realise.
an elegant and cold costume does sound better - it does seem to suit what I know of her character.

I need to read more of her.

ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

Keep in mind that, back in the day, Raven was thinning so fast that she wasn't sexy at all. And the cold/elegant is one way to push people aside and that's what she used to do.
I think there was this one page that summed up everything she was about and it was mostly a silent page. When I get home I will send it to you.

Anonymous said...

To the person who said pairing her with Gar is a no-no, you must have forgot that before Gar himself was made to be the young goofball of the team, he himself was on the same level as his fellow Titans.

Plus, given that Raven was reborn into a teenage body (age means jack squat in the comics, given things like Slade/Terra) and since Garfield was matured--both physically and mentally--around the same time, she can be paired with him.

This is especially since the former-gentleman-turned-playboy and the Tamaranian princess still have their off/on flings and the changeling really is the only other person from the Mistress of Magic's time that could understand her.

1. Jericho is evil (and likely to remain so)
2. Nightwing has been made out to be a manwhore, what with the Barbra/Starfire fight
3. Raven may be bisexual--if her evil side when posessing everyone it could get its hands on back in the day was any indication--but not many of her female teammates from her time period swing that way
4. Cyborg is meant to always be the aging bachelor, because he's never sustained a successful relationship, nevermind that he's the Titans "big brother" in a sense
4. Kid Flash (now The Flash) is essentially married and labeled as older than most of the Titans from his time, especially what with his Justice League membership

That leaves the shapeshifter as the only person left from Raven's original generation that could be paired with her.

Anonymous said...

Originally her costume was not at all sexy. Actually when you get down to the details it was just plain ugly with an awesome cape on top. She was never really pretty and she got more and more demonic as the comic went on. After her semi-death she was reborn into a new teenage body. Because of this she decided that she was going to try to be a normal teenager for once, she started getting into fashion, tattoos, etc. with help from Wondergirl. I guess that kinda explains it but I'm not entirely sure.

Generic Cialis said...

I have kind of liked her look, it makes her step aside from the regular sexy super heroines that we see nowadays in the comics.