One of the criticisms I get about this blog is that I'm a City of Heroes fan girl who never points out the things about City of Heroes I dislike. Perhaps I don't post that kind of criticism here, but I do speak up when CoH does something that I think is wrong. I share that criticism on the official forums where the people in charge of fixing said issues will see it and be able to do something about it.
This time, however, something has happened that I have to get out into the world. Something has happened that upsets me enough that I'm taking my criticism to the public in hopes that it opens a dialogue about the larger issue.
The problem is this - sexist super hero art has come to City of Heroes.
With the launch of City of Heroes: Freedom comes Issue 21: Convergence. With the official announcement came a new piece of art. Sadly, I don't have a copy of the original, and Paragon Studios seems to have scrubbed the internet clean of its existence due to the overwhelming negative feedback about it on the official game forums. This copy is the only one I could find, and it was done by a CoH player who is an artist. He took the original copy and highlighted the areas of the composition where the viewers' eyes are supposed to go:
I'm sure you'll notice, as most people did, that signature hero Sister Psyche has been turned into a sex doll. The official comment on the forums is that she's supposed to be shocked and surprised. Instead, I think she looks like she needs to have "Penis Goes Here" written above her head. And look at her in relation to Back Alley Brawler. He's not scared or surprised; he's pissed off and ready to defend the city.
In addition to the stupid sex doll mouth, Sister Psyche's breasts and butt are also on display, as she twists into a contorted position that no real person would do. She looks bubble-brained, inept, and completely unprepared to do her job - be a super hero. In game lore, Sister Psyche is the 2nd most powerful psychic in the world. She is also over 80 years old and has been in the super hero business longer than many of the heroes in the game have been alive. So why would she be reacting this way? Why strip her of her dignity? Why send the message to the female subscribers of CoH that we're not capable enough to handle the bad times? It's just awful.
This piece was done by City of Heroes artist David Nakayama, whose art is male gaze heavy anyway. It was stated on the forums that "subtle" changes would be made to this piece based on feedback. It's going to need a lot more than subtle.
I want to believe that this is a fluke by Nakayama, as his other CoH art hasn't been sexist in the past. I would love to see comic artists break out of the mold that female super heroes have be drawn like this, and I'd like for comic artist to keep in mind that comics are read and appreciated by more than just straight men.
It might help them to think when they pose female super heroes like this what it would look like if they did it to male heroes.
Seriously comic artists, knock it the fuck off.