Voodoo – New 52

I want to make one thing very clear, right off the bat: This item is not an artistic critique or an attempt to correct anyone’s illustrative anatomy. The artist on this piece, Sami Basri, did excellent work, and I am not finding fault with it.

This past month, DC published 52 new series featuring overhauled characters. The changes were bound to upset some people, and they did, but the biggest furor has been over the handling of several female characters. Suicide Squad administrator Amanda Waller lost a couple hundred pounds and 20 years. Barbara Gordon regained the use of her legs and left her role as the tech savvy woman Oracle for her old role as spandex-wearing Batgirl. Catwoman was shown for pages from the neck down focusing on her cleavage, then having sex with Batman, on panel. Starfire was written as apathetically hypersexual, and drawn as little more than a sex object. Then there’s Voodoo.

Voodoo isn’t nearly as well known as these other characters. And her presentation here isn’t actually much different from her original introduction, in which she was an exotic dancer. But there’s no question that it is overtly sexual from page 1.

I don’t pass judgment on that. Sex work is a legitimate way of making a living, and I am the last person who would object to it being presented in comics… flatteringly or not. And although I don’t like the sexual objectification of women, I support the right of publishers and readers to make their own choices.

But I saw an opportunity here to present the question from a different angle. To pose a question to both sides of the debate. How would you feel about it if the character being presented were not a woman, but a man? So I put my modest illustration and Photoshop skills to the task of giving Voodoo a sex change. Does this make it any better? Does this make it any worse?

First, here are pages 1, 2, and 15 of the original comic, written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Sami Basri:



Now here are altered versions of those pages, with apologies to Basri for the tampering:


So what do you think? How do you feel?

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11 Responses to Voodoo – New 52

  1. Enquido says:

    In a word, it’s a lot more gay with Voodoo as a man. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    It’s just as shallow and exploitative with Voodoo as a man instead of a woman. I guess that’s just how sexual objectification works. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either (as long as everyone’s a consenting adult).

    Odds are there’s a bunch of web-comics that look like your man-Voodoo mock-up, so that takes some of the shock value out of it. But it was still interesting though.

    Now that I’m thinking about it….shallow exploitative sexual objectification, plus beer, sounds like a kick ass Saturday night.

  2. SKB says:

    All I noticed was that in the panel where the guy says “You’re not even human…” it totally looks like man-Voodoo is picking a wedgie. Whereas girl-Voodoo just had her hand brushing below her butt.

  3. Sean says:

    I think if the art for the replacement was on par with the original art I’d be fine with it, though maybe shaved armpits.

  4. Reena says:

    Male or female, the sexual objectification is quite clear here. The creepiest thing: Voodoo does not say a word in any of those pages. No expression.
    I understand the reasoning for the male-female comparison. Our society is numb at this point to blatantly sexualized female objects. To see a guy in the position many women are shown in might make some people think “wait… this isn’t normal…”
    The most disappointing part is, this scene and character could have been pulled off extremely well by a good writer-artist team. Sex work is real, and to have a superhero in that business? You’ve got me curious now, that could be a really interesting character. But these guys played it so one-dimensionally. It’s all just fan-service. They gave no thought to her character as a person. :c

    • drownedmachines says:

      Thanks for posting this. I didn’t see anything unusual with the character Voodoo at first, and only after seeing your male counterpart did it occur to me how used I am to seeing women portrayed as sexual objects with no other real attributes at all. I agree with the other poster that said a sex-worker-turned-superhero could be very interesting! This is just the same crap all over again. It’s the same soft-core porn story that has been peddled for decades (Centuries?). Also, though I know this wasn’t your goal, I enjoyed the male cheesecake :) He looks more real than female Voodoo. He’s rough; he doesn’t look like a Barbie doll. The original artwork is beautiful, but I feel like the female form does little to dazzle me presented like a perfect fantasy. I like my women’s bodies to have character.

  5. not hitch says:

    I don’t see nothing wrong with either (except that that’s not how typical male strippers perform, men/masculinity and women/femininity have different body gestures, to the misery of feminists who seem to think that everybody should be androgynous and have the same gestural), it’s all hysteria.

    The last person to comment said that when redrawn in gender-swaps the man posed the same way a woman was originally posed would be “wrong”. That’s right, but does not mean that it would be wrong/unlikely for a woman to be in that pose. Not that it’s always done right, very often the “sexy” aspect is emphasized to the detriment of the story and/or action with female characters, but also often feminists will just cry “misogyny” for just about anything, even when there’s no disproportional exaggeration on a female character. And, yes, by the way, male characters are also exaggerated in their masculinity, but that’s almost always overlooked in this sort of commentary. These exaggerations do not serve some dark, sinister political agenda of hatred/disrespect towards women (or at least not more than the same depictions (of women) are to men), not even the “pointlessly sexy” attempts (that often fail, IMO) are. It’s just that it’s all a continuum from cartoon and caricature and/or idealized/simplified figures.

    • Jason says:

      As I said in the commentary attached to this item, I wasn’t critiquing the art itself.

      As for the “male characters are also exaggerated” bit, that’s a false equivalence. Male characters are exaggerated to emphasize their power; female characters are exaggerate to emphasize their sex appeal. As a bisexual, I think I’m in a good position to tell the difference… and especially to refute the notion that male superheroes are typically sexualized… all the spandex in the world does nothing to sex up a male figure with the basket of a Ken doll. :) That’s unequal treatment, just as surely as separate schools were for black children and Home Economics classes instead of Wood Shop classes were for girls And that unequal treatment doesn’t have to part of a consipiracy – or even intentional – to be harmful.

  6. Ripplin says:

    “Does this make it any better? Does this make it any worse?”

    Well…I wouldn’t buy either, to be honest. Haha. ;) I’m super picky with comics, though. I mostly just borrow TPBs from the library.

    Boy, I sure hope this wasn’t the last post in your blog. It has been a year already! I know you are focusing on original work, but I hope something will make you slap your head in astonishment enough again to make you want to “fix” it…

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