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She Has No Head! – Psylocke: This Is Not The Ninja You’re Looking For…

Psylocke #1.  Chris Yost (writer).  David Finch (cover).  Harvey Tolibao and Paul Neary (art). Ulises Arreola and Brian Reber (color).  Marvel Comics. $3.99

Psylocke Cover 1

I really didn’t want one of my first posts on here to be an out and out rant…but then I read Psylocke #1, and well…we don’t always get what we want.

This book, which is an abomination in my opinion to the idea of progressive women in comics, is also sadly just an abomination to good superhero comics period, and though it’s certainly not alone, I couldn’t let it go.  So here I am…already with a little rant.

Before we get into the meat of this post I think I should be a little clear about my comic book history.  I have been reading comics for over fifteen years but I actually came to comics a little late in the game – reading my first comic book (Uncanny X-Men #290 for anyone keeping score) when I was sixteen – rather than the young ages I’m sure many of you can boast.  And I think that my late age, and the fact that it was the early 90′s, a time we all feel very strongly about as far as what was going on with comics, definitely shaped my view of them.

I was one of the absolute worst offenders of buying all those crappy 90′s bad girl books that were and are so terrible for comics and for women.  But at the time, I couldn’t see it.  I was so shocked, and kind of impressed that awesome badass chicks were on the cover of major books, that it didn’t occur to me that they had the covers under really hard terms – i.e. they couldn’t really be on the cover if they didn’t have ridiculous impossible porn star body proportions, or were stunningly ridiculously beautiful – and usually white, and that they had to be wearing less clothing than your average swimsuit model while fighting crime.

But I know it now.  And now it fills me with a little bit of quiet rage that occasionally (okay fine, constantly) seeps out.

Like now. Like when I have to see a book like Psylocke #1 sitting on comic book shelves as if we and comics have not evolved at all in the last fifteen years.

You should also know that I love the hell out of Psylocke.  And I’m talking Jim Lee style badass ninja Psylocke.  I know, I know, she’s designed to be “so awesome” that it should actually negate her actual awesomeness, but I fell in love with her when I was still a teenager, when I was easily impressed and could not yet tell when people were trying to make something “cool” just to hook me.  I was not the wily consumer I am now.  I loved Psylocke so much I STILL have her 1992 Jim Lee trading card.  See?  Tell me that isn’t love?

Psylocke Jim Lee Trading Card

Before we get to what is criminal about this book, let’s get over a few of the remaining 600 lb gorillas in the room that come with discussing the Psylocke character.

#1. The two Betsy Braddocks. I suppose it’s significant that I was first introduced to Psylocke as the badass ninja version.  I didn’t discover her more pink butterfly telepathy power white girl beginnings until after I had already fallen in love with the Japanese version complete with psychic knife and thong.  To those of you who want to rally for the white girl British version (and I understand why you may feel that way) I can only offer that I met her first as a Japanese ninja, and so that version of her always seemed like a pretty natural state to me.

#2.  The convoluted history.  What a mess.  Whether you like it or hate it, Psylocke, like many characters, has really been through the wringer.  Eyes gouged out by Slaymaster and replaced with cybernetic ones at the hands of Mojo.  Turned into an assassin at the hands of well, The Hand.  Then revealed to be in someone else’s body (which though many people hated it – sort of made sense of things at least a little bit).  Then, Kwannon, the woman that got Betsy’s British body in the exchange comes back and wants her original Japanese body back, possibly in part because the British body is dying from the legacy virus.  This is doubly problematic because their psyches’ have been partially merged.  Betsy manages to keep her non-infected Japanese body and have her psyche restored upon Kwannon’s death only to later have a deadly battle with Sabertooth and be brought back to life with something called The Crimson Dawn which then gives her cool new powers like teleporting through shadows…and then…okay, you know what?  That’s enough.  And honestly?  It gets even worse after that. The point is, love what they’ve done to her or hate it (I’m sure most of us are hovering near ‘hate it’) somewhere in there she’s a great character waiting to be discovered (again, sort of).

#3. The blue thong.  Yes, it’s ridiculous.  Yes, it’s sexist.  Yes, if I had my druthers I’d redesign the hell out of it and give her something worthy of her.  Although, I can’t say I thought much of her old costumes either (pink and purple ruffles?  Not my Psylocke.  A giant purple cape to restrict your movement?  Also, no).  At 16 however, I thought she, thong and all, was made of badass and I loved her maybe as much because of the thong as in spite of it.

So all that said, maybe when I was 16 the new Psylocke mini-series would have appealed to me regardless of the objectifying imagery splashed all over it, but my 33 year-old self is just not having it.  I’ve been waiting for someone to do something great with Psylocke for years.  And THIS. IS. NOT. IT.

Let us begin.

1.The Cover.  I have occasionally liked David Finch’s work in the past, though it has never conformed to what I feel comfortable supporting and praising.  But I have definitely been swayed a few times by the “Oooh! Pretty! Ooooh! Shiny! Ooooh Pretty and Shiny!” factor.  Aphrodite IX springs to mind here.  It happens.  We all have weaknesses.  That said, I think this cover, even aside from the overly sexualized posing ridiculousness is just not great.  Her face is a bit weak, almost looking unfinished, and there’s nothing remotely Japanese about her…which she is…in fact the book’s entire storyline (what I can make of it) is based heavily on the fact that she is no longer in her old British white body…yet here she just looks like one of many hot white women in comics, but with purple hair.

As for the costume, I guess I’m supposed to be grateful that her thong is not a true thong here, but basically a swimsuit that covers approximately half of her ass, but I’m finding it hard to be grateful.  I expect more.  I deserve more.  And the obvious ass focused posing really undoes any of the credit Finch (or whoever) might have gained by slightly covering her up.  And do you know why the posing really bothers me?  I mean beyond just being ridiculous and embarrassing to be seen in public with?  What really bothers me is that it’s just SO obvious.  I’m getting to the age where I find the most obvious answer really really boring. It is just so damn predictable and takes zero thought or ingenuity.  Is it really so hard to do something a little unexpected?

I wish Marvel could put a poll into the field.  To find out how many Psylocke fans, or interested new readers would have bought this book, even if she was allowed to be the star of the cover instead of her infamous ass…and how many people would have passed it by if her ass had not been the sole star.  Because maybe I’m an idealistic moron, but I really think the numbers would not be significantly different…I think the percentage of people buying superhero comics solely for wank factor are pretty small.

2.  The Interior Art.  It’s by no means the worst art around – we’ve all seen far worse than what Harvey Tolibao does here – but it’s also not really good – at all.  It’s overly fussy and complicated and the panel layouts are an unnecessary mess.  The places where it is up to the art to tell the story (particularly the action sequences) are almost impossible to understand.

The art is also wildly inconsistent.  If it wasn’t for the purple hair and distinctive costume, I would have a hard time recognizing Psylocke from page to page as her look is constantly changing.  You know what never changes though?  She always has ridiculous inflatable boobs.  And she never looks Japanese.  In fact, there’s a split panel on page ten (see below) that shows Psylocke now piloting the blackbird (or some such) and old style British Betsy Braddock pre-body switch from when she was a pilot – and there is literally no definition between the two faces belonging to two different bodies – except one has blonde hair and one has purple hair.

Psylocke Split Panel

Why waste such an awesome artistic opportunity to show how drastic it must be to live in an entirely new body?  We always want our comic art to be great – but in this story’s case it seems to be freaking critical to the plot and yet it’s terribly missing the mark.  And this leads us directly into the problem with the story…it seems to be a lot of whining and exposition about how Psylocke is no longer the woman she once was – in body or mind – but in body – she um, looks EXACTLY THE SAME.  And in mind…well, I know I haven’t been reading consistently for years, but I thought the whole point was that she is Betsy Braddock, although she has admittedly been manipulated…she’s still herself at the root of it all (and even Fraction’s recent Uncanny Sisterhood arc backs this up).  So I’m confused.  Really confused.  And so is this story.

3.  The Story.  Um…what story?  No, seriously.  I have no freaking idea what the story is here.  Betsy constantly talks to herself via narration that seems unfocused and repetitive.  She waxes poetic (or really, not so poetic) about not being herself…which as I’ve already discussed…kind of doesn’t make sense based on what we know about her history so far…and in the way that it should easily make sense to us (i.e. visually) it also doesn’t make sense…because she looks the same as she did before getting a new body.

The plot goes absolutely nowhere.  I don’t understand anyone’s motivation beyond revenge – which though a good standby is not exactly revolutionary or particularly interesting.  From what I can gather beyond the exposition, Psylocke feels honor bound to return her once again dead and deformed old body to its grave in Japan.  Wolvie comes along for sales purposes and disappears quickly.  Once in Japan Matsu’o Tsurayaba’s assassins, The Hand, come and blow up the old Betsy Braddock English body, right under Psylocke’s nose, and while I can certainly understand Psylocke’s desire for revenge on Matsu’o back in the day, it’s pretty hard to reconcile it (or care) some ten plus years later.  So it seems here that Psylocke is reacting not to Matsu’o's manipulation of her years ago but rather just to Matsu’o’s people blowing her old body up and quite frankly, I’m not sure he hasn’t done her a huge favor there.  If I was Psylocke I would have burned that old body to ash and sprinkled it in the ocean myself, if only to better ensure that there would be no more goddamn shenanigans and body swapping.

Somewhat ironically, Psylocke #1 starts similarly to Stumptown #1 in that we open with a dramatic scene (less so in Psylocke, but whatever) and the rest of the story is then told in flashback, but that is sadly where the similarities end.  Where Stumptown is all smarts and nuance and character building, Psylocke is all color and boobs and ass and mindless fluff that barely makes sense to devoted fans, let alone newcomers.

4.  The writing.  On the whole it is mediocre, but I’m less inclined to just outwardly blame the writer (Chris Yost) than I am whoever gave him the plot line for this dreck (although if it was Yost himself, I’ll happily foist the blame back onto him).  There’s just not anything special or unique here and it makes me sad.

I think probably the reality is that there was no hope for me to actually like this book, given the variety (and severity) of the sins they have already committed in my eyes (over sexualization, opportunistic misogynistic cover art, mediocre writing, mediocre drawing, and bad storytelling).  However, I think some might argue that with a character this complicated and screwed over historically, it’s a huge task to write a book or mini-series that gets her back on track and re-introduces her to the world.  I might have agreed with that, except I’ve been reading Bendis’ new Spider-Woman, and I’d say Jessica Drew is equally as screwed as Psylocke, and yet Spider-Woman (love Bendis or hate him) is operating on levels that this book hasn’t even dreamed of becoming.  As someone that has perhaps shamefully never read a single Spider-Woman book (more on that another day) I was able to pick up Spider-Woman #1 and instantly not only get a feel for the character, but also understand the important aspects of her convoluted history.  Yet with Psylocke, a character I already have incredible built in love for, I have no interest in seeing where this thrown together plot and mediocre at best team are trying to take her…because it’s just not worthy of her.  I’ll wait for the real thing.

And as if to further prove there’s no hope for this book…here’s the cover for Issue #2.

Psylocke 2 Cover

So what do we have to look forward to?  Giant boobs?  CHECK.  Giant ass in a thong?  CHECK.  Waist so small it would break in half if it had to carry that ass and boobs?  CHECK. Impossible posing (that would land you at the chiropractor if you tried) all in order to better feature “the ass”?  CHECK. Hot white girl face…not a Japanese feature to be seen?  CHECK.

Is it 1995?  Did I just IMAGINE I was living in 2009?  Hmmm.  Must have ’cause this has 90′s bad girl book stink smeared all over it.

162 Comments

[...] blogging, comic reviews, comics, comics should be good, feminist rage, feminist rants, writing My new column is up at CSBG, check it out if you get a chance.  It’s a bit of a rant…so I’m trying to [...]

No real interest in this comic but I enjoyed your breakdown of it. That split panel in particular is hilarious in context.

….that was awesome.

I’ll have to admit up-front that I know next-to-nothing about Psylocke except for the fact that her history is convoluted. I usually put her on a shelf with Cable, Bishop, and other late ’80s/ early ’90s X-Men characters that make no sense to me. So, on that aspect, I really can’t comment on her character one way or the other.

Well, except that it sounds like she should show up in Daredevil’s book at some point, if she hasn’t already. Could be fun?

I can, however, easily deride the over-sexualization of comics. My gateway drug was Spider-Man comics (and some Batman) in the mid-to-late ’90s, and while I was aware of things like Witchblade and Lady Death, even at a young age I wrote them off as soft-core porn. (Of course, I may be wrong, having not actually read said books, but they sure didn’t market themselves as much else). Seeing this attitude embraced in mainstream books always bothers me for several reasons.

But even beyond that…it’s just stupid. Ninja without even the most basic body coverings make absolutely no sense. It doesn’t make sense when Electra does it, and it makes even less sense here. (What are those things on her hips even for, anyway?) The very ninja she’s fighting wear full-body protection, for crying out loud…

The visual of the split panel totally proves your argument. It always annoys me that characters aren’t drawn to their ethnicity when they are specifically ethnic. If your character is Japanese she shouldn’t look like every other woman you draw (I’m looking at you Jim Aparo).

Also the woman-with-ultra-thin-waist thing needs to go. It just looks weird and distracting.

Good post.

So what do we have to look forward to? Giant boobs? CHECK. Giant ass in a thong? CHECK. Waist so small it would break in half if it had to carry that ass and boobs? CHECK. Impossible posing (that would land you at the chiropractor if you tried) all in order to better feature “the ass”? CHECK. Hot white girl face…not a Japanese feature to be seen? CHECK.

I’m sorry but I’m a little confused. You fell in love with the character based on Jim Lee’s original design and drawings of her, but you’re disappointed in the latest installment for the above reasons? These are all the things that pretty much defined the Jim Lee version of Psylocke, take them away and there’s nothing else Jim Lee really contributed.

Good breakdown, and a good rationalization for why I don’t bother with books like this anymore.

And for the record, I really do prefer the original incarnation of the character. BritBetsy has a much less convoluted backstory, and in instances seemed to avoid a good deal of the sexist claptrap that bogs her down so badly now. Moore and Davis’ take on her is my favorite, and to a degree I enjoyed how Claremont integrated her into the X-Men around the Mutant Massacre.

I was a little sad that Fraction’s Sisterhood story didn’t reboot the Brit version of the character – that would have made for a much more interesting mini series for me. Instead we just to be crystallizing the 90′s take of the character. I’m not sure what opportunity for growth or change there is on this approach.

Let me add, it took me a long time to realize even when Jim Lee, an Asian, was drawing her that Psylocke was supposed to look Asian. She just always appeared like a white girl squinting to me.

What do you mean there’s no difference between the faces in the split-panel??

They have different eyebrows as well!

:-)

Great post.

James B Elkins II

November 23, 2009 at 11:05 am

While I shall forever be a fan of… well… fan service, and it’s place in the comics industry, I completely agree with you. Beyond the impossible anatomy there is also the lack of movement, for want of a better term, that most comic book artists fail to impart to their female characters. The only, to my knowledge,, two artists that allow their feminine characters movement are Frank Cho & Khari Evans, all of the others appear to be made of plastic or at least be encased in it.

Nice piece. Sorry it had to be a rant.

What a fantastic rant! Loved it. One sentence, however, gave me pause:

“I think the people buying superhero comics solely for wank factor are pretty small.”

At first it was because of the use of the word “solely”. I can’t wrap my head around the idea that “wank factor” (great phrase) would be even a tiny part of the reason to buy a comic. Getting off to a drawing? No, thanks. Yes, I am aware that there are people out there getting hard reading Power Girl or manga or whatever. I just hope I don’t know any of them.

But the main reason it stands out is that it suggests that somewhere in the world some very tiny people are jacking it to this comic.

THANK YOU.
The MONSTROUSLY EPIC FAILURE of that split-panel-that-was-supposed-to-highlight-just-how-much-diferent-Psylocke-has-become-from-her-original-self has been bugging me since the book came out. So nice to see someone put it so efficiently into words.

T.: As I stated in the post, when I fell for her I was a pretty idiotic/naive 16 year old – relatively blind to a lot of the hyper sexualization and rampant misogyny I was absorbing on a daily basis. I mean, I bought Witchblade for chrissake. So that’s my whole point…as a stupid kid, I thought she was pretty great, regardless of thong (etc.), but as an adult that still reads superhero comics, I expect more, and this is not it.

Also, just to be clear, I didn’t fall in love with Psylocke BASED on the way she was drawn, I just fell in love with her at a time when Jim Lee happened to be drawing her, and she happened to be the Japanese ninja character version.

A huge point of the post, and I’m sorry if it’s not clear, is that the 90′s bad girl era of comics sucked and it’s not okay, even though many of us (myself included) actively participated in it, but it would be more acceptable to me if I at least felt like we were making progress away from that nightmare, which books like Psylocke #1 kind of prove we’re not.

kushiro: You are so right – that sentence should definitely be reworded for clarity. Glad you enjoyed the post otherwise. :)

I suppose it was inevitable that with Marvel’s recent interest in reviving story lines, characters, and concepts from the ’90s, we’d eventually see a resurgence of this type of creepy drek.

Thanks to all of you that are digging the rant so far – I really appreciate the feedback (especially when it’s positive!) ;)

Good article.

There is definately a class of of cover artist for whom the ability to depict both boobs and both butt checks on in the same character in a single image is considered to be the hallmark of a job well done.

The weirdest thing about cover #1 is the back muscles depicted under her costume. They seems to have no relation to the build of the rest of her body in that drawing.

I’ve always had the hunch that when a character looks markedly different from panel to panel in a comic like this, it’s probably that they have relied too much on photo referrence – i.e. they have no real sense of the character having any personality of thier own.

I’ve never really cared about Psylocke pre or post ‘op’ but there is a more general trend for artists to treat all female characters in comics as cheesecake meaning that their characterisation is often completely at odds with their clothing – e.g. Rogue is does not work as a hooker so why is she now depicted as dressing like one? I think it’s the juvenility of it that irritates as much as the misogyny.

Kelly, no otherwise about it. I enjoyed the post completely, and the small people wanking aspect was the icing on the cake.

Oops.

Talk about unfortunately worded comments.

E. Wilson: My fear is that with the “focus on women characters and creators” we’re supposed to get from Marvel starting in March, we’re just going to get a bunch of this book over and over again. And then Marvel will look up all innocently and be all, “but we gave you like four female miniseries and some one shots and you didn’t buy it or you complained…blah blah blah…” And they still won’t understand what they’re doing wrong. The thing I really don’t get is that there ARE people doing it right…even in mainstream and superhero comics…so why can’t they see that and learn from it? It boggles.

Dan K.: Couldn’t agree more. I think you nailed it with juvenility – it’s that for me mixed with the obvious misogyny, mixed with the boring, unoriginal, totally expected and done a thousand times before aspect that really kills me.

I also agree with you HUGELY about the Rogue thing. If you haven’t been to my personal blog yet, check it out (http://1979semifinalist.wordpress.com) and type Rogue in the search, and you will find a post in which I absolutely lose my shit about Rogue’s new “unzipped to the navel” costume design. Actually I think there are two posts… :)

I had that trading card.

I think cover #1 is sexy, not sexist. 14 year old me would have spanked it to that.

You see plenty of half-covered asses in gymnastics. That’s not sexist, that’s functional. As for what’s between the covers, not being a comic book reader any more, I guess I really don’t care.

Cover #2 is pretty silly, tho.

This is YOUR column, it IS within your right to rant, rave, or whatever.
DON’t be ashamed to speak your mind!

Such a mind you have. ;-)
I’m sooooo in lust with you!

Too bad I’m too old for you.
If that makes me sexist, the hell with it, I’m not gonna live forever. ;-)

…Whoa, *that’s* Rouge’s new costume? Damnit, indeed. I thought everyone was talking about the hooded thing she was wearing during Messiah Complex. This new…thing…isn’t just revealing, it’s stupid. Yes, the mutant who risks killing anyone she touches certainly shouldn’t cover herself up as much as possible, should she?

Personally, I stopped reading most Marvel stuff in the late 80′s/early 90′s anyway once there were a million X-Men, so I’ve only seen her on covers and such, but she’s ALWAYS posed to show off her ass. I know her name is Psylocke (a stupid name anyway if you ask me) but to me, she has always just been known as Ass-Woman because of her hi-cut drawers and ass-centric posing. Someone should tally up all the covers or posters that feature her, and give a percentage breakdown of the times where her ass or hips are turned around for that prime porno pose. Other than that, she’s got nothing.

Also, just to be clear, I didn’t fall in love with Psylocke BASED on the way she was drawn, I just fell in love with her at a time when Jim Lee happened to be drawing her, and she happened to be the Japanese ninja character version.

I understand that, but my point is I don’t see how one can fall in love with Jim Lee’s 90s Psylocke IN SPITE OF how she was drawn given that once you take away the cheesecake, pseudo-Asian visuals and ninja cliches there isn’t much left to her. It’s similar to Venom, the whole character is nothing but a kewl visual, zero depth. Maybe pre-Asian Psylocke had some depth but all that was thrown out once she turned Asian, her Braddock past was barely referenced any more.

I could understand if they took a character that usually has depth to her and reduced her to nothing but gratuitous cheesecake, ass shots and cliches, but to me everything you describe is basically the essence of the character. I admit its bad, I just think getting mad at a Psylocke story for showcasing those things is like getting mad at a Punisher story for promoting capital punishment.

“there is literally no definition between the two faces belonging to two different bodies – except one has blonde hair and one has purple hair.”

This is especially ironic, since British Betsy had purple hair too, since way back to the start of the Marvel UK days.

First off, good rant. Psylocke was never a favorite of mine, but I can relate to the disappointment you feel seeing her in a terrible mini-series.

Re Rogue’s new costume: yes, it sucks. A lot. I can, however, see a slight justification IF I’m remembering those 2 issues of X-Men Legacy I read correctly: Rogue can now control her powers, right? After having to cover up every inch of skin for so many years for fear of losing her mind and/or killing people, she is wearing less clotthes for the first time, and reveling in her new-found freedom. Again, it’s an ugly, poorly designed costume, but I could see the rationale behind it.

Asian Betsy is an affront to cultured sensibilities, always has been. We know this, ad nauseum.

Tom: I can use all the fans I can get…besides, I don’t think there’s anything sexist about lusting after my mind…right?

E. Wilson: Well, I think one of the reasons they’ve done it is because she has some degree of control (actually from what I’ve read it looks like total control) over her power now. So I guess that’s the excuse. She must have always WANTED to unzip her costume to her navel so her boobs could spill out but we didn’t know that about her because she just COULDN’T because it was OOOH TOO DANGEROUS. But now that things are under control…it’s totally appropriate. Especially since her new job with the X-Men is “working with the young mutants/students”. Nice role modeling Rogue.

T.: I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree here. I loved the character and it wasn’t just about the way she looked (though I admit as a teen I liked the way she looked) I’ve explained myself in the article and in the comments as best I can, and if you don’t see my point then you don’t see my point. Fair enough. I think there’s a pretty big leap though in your comparison between Punisher and Psylocke and “what they’re about”, but I guess all you see is ass for Psylocke, and I used to see (even when her ass was prominently displayed) much more to her – and in both versions. I was hoping to see more of the character that I had come to love regardless of ass here in her series – and it’s just not there.

rhod: Agreed. I wanted to put a bit about the purple hair not even being unique to the Japanese body, but the damn thing was so convoluted already I left it out in hopes of keeping things simpler. You’re right though – it gives it even less impact.

Mike Loughlin: I’m glad you agree it sucks, and I think there’s an aspect to her feeling “freed” – as I said in my semifinalist post – I can see Rogue being excited about not having to wear gloves anymore, or being able to wear something sleeveless, or even show a little cleavage without fear of killing someone…but a costume unzipped to her stomach? Ridiculous. It’s particularly ridiculous because she’s still WEARING GLOVES. Sigh Marvel. SIGH. :)

Kelly: I just read your Rogue article and share your frustration.

Poor Rogue, perhaps she took a look at the current female X-Men line-up and realised that girls who don’t dress trampy have a curious tendency of being burnt to death in the sun shot out of a giant space-cannon.

It makes me somewhat nostalgic for all those Claremount issues with Storm coming out oft he shower or having her clothes eaten by a Sabertooth Tiger in the Savage Land. At least in those days they had to come up with an excuse for showing nudity which, no matter how contrived, was consistent with characterisation. Now they just don’t bother.

At some point, comic book editors are going to have to realise that in an age when it is (so I’m told) even easier to find bootlegged porn then it is bootlegged comics on the internet, relying on horny teenaged boys as your primary audience, to the exclusion of other readers, is not, in the end, going to be a winning sales stratergy.

With the ease with which it is now possible to electronically steal comics, sales will continue to decline, and those titles which survive are going to be the ones which are able to nurture a bond of loyalty with thier readership. This won’t be helped much by showing total contempt for much-loved characters.

I don’t get it, I never did. Why do some women have problems with the “cheesecake” art that was and will always be part of comics? It will never change and there is really no reason why it should.
As long as the characters are good written and there’s a good story behind it, what’s so terrible about the art?
There are enough hypermuscled males in each comicbook for women who enjoy them.
It’s just the way superherocomics are. Women all have model bodies and the male heroes look like Mr. Universe contestants.

If you can’t get over that, fine by me, I just feel it’s a waste of time.

Now, bad writing and bad art, as shown in the inbook panels, taht is something you have every right o complain about and based on your review I’ll defnitely not buy the miniseries.

The cover to Nr. 1 is not that bad a cover, it’s just cheesecake, and I know a female artist who likes to draw exactly that kind of pictures.

A lot of men and boys like to look at pictures of beautiful, sexy drawn women, do they wank of over them,? Some might, most probably don’t, anyway, what is so terrible about it? (The drawings I mean)
We know women don’t look like this in real life, hell, I know nobody who looks like Thor or Captain America, but really in what pseudofeminist minds is there anything bad about this?

“THEM’S JUST PRETTY PICTURES,” (or not so pretty, if you don’t like them) but nothing more.

Just wanted to say that this was a great column.

I’ve never been a fan of Finch as his work lacks the believability of say, a Cho or a Hughes. Those guys can draw the girls with the big ole, big oles and you can believe it. Finch draws stuff and then noodles it to death to make up for bizarre anatomical short comings in the work.

I’ve never been much of a Psylocke fan. I’ve been partial to Rogue as my first issues of X-men was the one where she joined the team. You’re other column on the magical zipper was hilarious, by the way. How long before she gets into a thong and high heels to fight crime?

Again, great column and I look forward to reading more.

God bless you, Marvel.

90s rock.

I don’t even think those covers are very sexy. I actually do like a lot of the sexy cheesecake art in comics, but I prefer it when you can see the face clearly. Faces are what are sexy. A body without a clear view of the face is just boring. But my sexuality is a bit weird, so maybe that’s just me.
And the teeny-tiny waist look is always annoying.

I stopped reading X-Men right when the Japanese version of Psylocke first appeared. That’s not why I stopped– the general quality of the book had been plummeting for a couple years. I’ve bought occasional issues since then, but I just haven’t been able to get into Psylocke. She’s never had any personality that I could see, not in the books I’ve read. Even when she was still British. I know I can’t discount the possibility that she became a real character during one of the periods I missed, but until I read one of those stories, I just can’t get much interested in her.

(There does seem to be some slight difference in the nose and eyes in the split picture above. But the Japanese half looks even more Caucasian.)

Well, I agree with you, in that I will never buy this book, I’m not interested, not even remotely. And that women should be portrayed as women, as real as possible, not as models based on boys dreams.

That said, are you sure it’s right to call teen girls idiotic because they like it? (And I know that today there are less girls reading comics than the ’90s…)
Are you sure that you can be the judge and say that this comic is crap and it’s obvious that whoever likes it must be a moron?

Ok, obviously if you write a review you must write something, and I really like what you wrote and all, but… it’s just that attitude, you know, that doesn’t work for me…

I think that every comic book is not for everybody. This mini is not for me. The moment you put focus on the ass is the moment you lose me, but what about all the girls that felt what you felt? What about those who think that a woman on a cover is absolutely cool? Why do we have to dismiss them? Are we superior in some way? And according to which parameters?

I would’ve liked to see Peter David or Neil Gaiman writing this, so I could have read a story about a person, not about a stereotype, but still… I won’t read it, but I certainly won’t blame those who do.

Anyway, good column!

franser: Well I think you’re on board…but I’m not sure…

To be clear though, I certainly didn’t intend to call teen girls idiotic – I just said I personally was an idiotic teen that couldn’t see the difference between empowering female roles and sexist female portrayals. I was trying to acknowledge my part in the problem (i.e. I bought a lot of bad objectifying comics in my early years of reading – and sometimes even loved those books) but that doesn’t mean I think things shouldn’t have gotten better in the last 15 + years, and I feel pretty okay about complaining that too many times they’re not better. I want more from my superhero comics…and I know it can be done (I’ve seen it!)…so how else are Marvel/DC et al. going to know some of us want more from them unless we stand up and say it?

At the end of the day, I’m here on CSBG being a reviewer, which is by definition a critic or judge of material – it’s of course only my opinion – as are pretty much all reviews – but it’s what I’m here for – so yeah, I feel okay judging what I feel is crap and what I don’t. If you don’t agree, fair enough. I’m sure many won’t agree with me.

Also, am I superior to a 16 year old teenage girl that reads this and thinks it’s great? No, of course not. But am I superior to the 16 year old version of myself that would have read this and thought it was great? Hell yes.

This review is awful. Psylocke #1 was awesome.

bwahaha those covers! XD. poor Psylocke! i was hoping this new series would do something great with the ethnicity change and what that would really be like for somebody and what sorts of new experiences and identity issues they would have, but, yeah, unfortunate expectations to have, i guess.
really great post, Kelly, you’re on a roll already.

This also has the rank of a Liefeld influence.

That cover for #2… looks to me like she’s expecting to get spanked. Another reason I quit X-books long before I quit buying comics.

The second I saw the preview pages with Psylocke’s already skimpy uniform having several tears in it just north of the private areas, I realized I should probably avoid it. Thank you for your compelling review; I now know I made the right decision.

( Though even if Psylocke was drawn with accurate Japanese features, the whole body-switch is the superhero genre equivalent of yellowface; similar to Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander magically becoming Native Americans in the New Mutants. A friend of mine has theorized that Claremont might have had a compelling commentary on the nature of race and identity, but never got around to completing it ).

So, in summary, you were a normal individual who enjoyed life and fiction at the age of 16. But as the years took their toll, you went batshit and became an angry feminazi wishing to conform every inch of reality to your twisted little perspective. Would that be a fair interpretation?

Let me know if you need to me to explain the sharp decrease in the number of guys (and girls for that manner) choosing to associate with you beyond that likable 16 year old stage.

Would that be a fair interpretation?

No, that’d be an unfair interpretation. And a fairly prickish one, at that.

Eh, I dunno. That’s really the overwhelming gist of the red-faced-foaming-at-the-mouth-cut-all-long-hair-and-chop-off-all-you-know-what’s rant.

That’s a dim view of the preceding post.

Disagree with it all you like, of course, but your take on it is inaccurate and unnecessarily insulting.

I get startled when I go to read a comic review and am instead rick rolled in the face by a tight-ass political assailant.

The women’s rights movement has accomplished a lot. Stop minimizing their triumphs and enjoy your life. Take a breath. Eat a piece of candy. Do some yoga. Enjoy a comic without letting yourself spiral into a shaken RAAAAAGE over perceived unfairness. And look around you, women are enjoying success and fair treatment in every facet of life, thankfully. Enough of the backward thinking.

I get startled when I go to read a comic review and am instead rick rolled in the face by a tight-ass political assailant.

The women’s rights movement has accomplished a lot. Stop minimizing their triumphs and enjoy your life. Take a breath. Eat a piece of candy. Do some yoga. Enjoy a comic without letting yourself spiral into a shaken RAAAAAGE over perceived unfairness. And look around you, women are enjoying success and fair treatment in every facet of life, thankfully. Enough of the backward thinking.

We get it, Steve, feminism freaks you out. Duly noted.

I recommend you not read Kelly’s column from here on out.

At some point, comic book editors are going to have to realise that in an age when it is (so I’m told) even easier to find bootlegged porn then it is bootlegged comics on the internet, relying on horny teenaged boys as your primary audience, to the exclusion of other readers, is not, in the end, going to be a winning sales stratergy.

man, I sure hope you’re right Dan K. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that I spent a little too long with certain Handbook of the Marvel Universe entries or Howard Chaykin comics in the horrific middle school years of early puberty. If I was 12 now, I think I’d go for the “real thing” via the interwebs. I do so wish Kelly’s poll could be a reality – not only do I think that the #s buying this as pure eye candy would be small, I think the lost opportunities with females of all ages and semi-mature males would dwarf them.

Give me Amanda Conner’s “good girl” art over Finch, Lee or Cho any day.

Nice column. Keep speaking truth to power.

I don’t think it’s just Psylocke.

For whatever reason, solo mini-series of X-men related characters have almost always been awful. And I’m not one of those Internet fans that hate the X-Men or are deadly tired of the X-Men. I actually enjoy the main X-Men books.

But the solo X-character minis all read like fan fiction.

LOL This is review is such a ***mess*** I can’t stop laughing at it. Good job, homegurl.

Booyah!

Awesome column.

Honest question, Kelly: What are the things that attracted/attract you to the character of Psylocke? I’m not quite feeling them, and as someone who’s never particularly been a fan, I’m interested in hearing your reasons. Follow-up: Are the reasons you like her now the same as the reasons you liked her then?

And as a final thought, don’t worry about calling teenage girls idiotic. By and large, they are. As are teenage boys. It comes pre-packaged with puberty.

” The women’s rights movement has accomplished a lot. Stop minimizing their triumphs and enjoy your life. Take a breath. Eat a piece of candy. Do some yoga. Enjoy a comic without letting yourself spiral into a shaken RAAAAAGE over perceived unfairness. And look around you, women are enjoying success and fair treatment in every facet of life, thankfully. Enough of the backward thinking. ”

So the women’s right movement did enough, and all modern women should just pack up and ignore gender inequities in society and media? Or is this more of a ” speak when you’re spoken to ” thing?

Wow.
Good post. Rant-ish for sure but the book deserved it and you did it well. You’re a nice addition to the Comics Should be Good Blog

“And as a final thought, don’t worry about calling teenage girls idiotic. By and large, they are. As are teenage boys. It comes pre-packaged with puberty.” – Michael

Agreed. And knowing that is the only way I can wrap my head around the moronic ‘Twilight’ phenomenon.

The first cover is a bit obvious, but it’s a piece of ultra-realism when compared to the second cover.

It doesn’t bother me so much that she has a porn star body. Most male superheroes have porn star bodies too. But the way she is able contort herself to pose so suggestivelly while in mid-jump fighting half a dozen ninjas? :)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Wow, nothing destroys someone’s credibility like unironically using the word “feminazi.” Rush coined it mainly as entertaining hyperbole. Steve you’re genuinely uncomprehending that drawing a female character in buttfloss who has the secret superpower of always shoving her ass into the camera might, I dunno, bother people or seem to reflect slightly warped views of women.

You don’t have to memorize Gloria Steinem or want to kill Andy Warhol with silver bullets to think “micro-thonged pseudo-Asian psychic ninja” is a fucked-up character concept.

Oh, and Giselle: “I enjoyed it” does not, in fact, mean a comic is good. There are people who say “it was awesome” about Waterworld, Vegemite, and other objectively awful things. Sometimes when a critic carefully explains something is shit and you think “it’s awesome” is a sign that you have shitty taste.

The way to avoid this is to try constructing these things called “arguments,” which are what need to appear before the “assertions” you’ve thrown out here to die, unsupported and unconvincing.

“So the women’s right movement did enough, and all modern women should just pack up and ignore gender inequities in society and media? Or is this more of a ” speak when you’re spoken to ” thing?”

Oh! The ole strategy of trying to counter my argument that we are fortunate enough to live in a very enlightened and just society by implying that I’m sexist. I love it!

Omar, the entire concept of modern “feminism” is a hyperbole. That’s the point.

She wants the word to resemble her opinion to a T. She would prefer that creators of comic books be stifled because drawing a suggestively dressed women is somehow hurting womankind. Feminazi? Yeah. Not everything you read is going be a shining representation of YOUR OWN viewpoint. It’s known in some circles as liberty. Enjoy it, like the rest of it.

I’m just hoping she has had some form of fun since the age of 16. Judging by this article, it’s very unlikely.

Wow…

The replies are nearly as entertaining as the initial post.

Gotta say I find a LOT of humor in the ‘You mildly assaulted my worldview thus you must be an extremist determined on burning my entire lifestyle down and dedicated to nothing else’ posts.

Going to have to keep my eye on that…no end of entertainment there.

It’s really not worth responding to our friend, Steve, here. He has an agenda and has found the perfect opportunity to espouse his noxious and small-minded point of view. In other words, don’t feed the troll.

1. The women’s rights movement has accomplished a lot and achieved their vision of equality for all. Injustice still exists, but when is less focused on women, and is almost always met with swift elimination by mainstream society.

2. I enjoy liberty and free speech. They’re fun.

3. Not all fiction is going to be a shining example of your own worldview, and you shouldn’t let it get you so darned angry.

Such noxious and small-minded opinions I have there.

I never understand when people say Psylocke’s character is convoluted. Everything that’s mentioned here in the article is pretty much the extent of the character development for a single character in a team book. By this argument you could say Spiderman is convoluted, Superman is convoluted, Batman is convoluted. Why, because “comic-booky” things happen to them to keep the character going and not be static in storytelling.

She’s Brit, eyes taken out by Mojo, goes through Siege Perilous, becomes Japanese ninja (getting rid of the bionic eyes), Kwannon is the real Betsy because of a body-swap (makes better sense swapping bodies rather than just changing someone’s ethnicity), almost dies at hands of Sabrettoth, Crimson Dawn powers and tattoo (which to this day I guess people like since its how she looks in the new Marvel video game), something happened during the time Claremont cares to not tell us about where she and Jean switched powers – Dawn powers are gone, she dies in X-Treme, brought back during House of M, joins Exiles, comes back to 616 Marvel.

Don’t overthink it. It’s still comics.

“She wants the word to resemble her opinion to a T. She would prefer that creators of comic books be stifled because drawing a suggestively dressed women is somehow hurting womankind. Feminazi? Yeah. Not everything you read is going be a shining representation of YOUR OWN viewpoint. It’s known in some circles as liberty. Enjoy it, like the rest of it.”

I don’t know where you’re getting this from, seeing as the review treats the exploitative art and the crappy storytelling as different problems, and found the art to be symptomatic of a larger problem. Yes, crappy story telling is a large problem, but it offends people of all genders and social groups equally.

I did not get an overly-feminist vibe off of the article, unless you think that the general idea of “sexually exploitative art in comics is degrading to both the characters portrayed and the readers expected to lap it up” is an exclusively feminist position. And even if you disagree with the thrust of the article, there had to have been more practical and constructive ways to voice that opinion.

Wilson, if I was as obsessed with my own world view as the author is with hers, I may have taken the time to construct a tactful and philosophically diplomatic critique of her outraged review. Like I’ve been saying, however, comics such as the issue in question are not evidence of some evil sexist oppressor, and have no real ability to HARM womankind or their desire to be treated equally.

Do you really think I initiated the political nature of the discussion? The author started railing about “progressive women” in the second sentence of her COMIC BOOK review.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I notice that Steve isn’t actually defending the comic anymore, just trying to score political points. And the quality of his points seems best exemplified by the risible blanket declaration that all modern feminism is “hyperbole” and that anyone who dislikes Psylocke #1 for vaguely “feminist” reasons must be a friendless harridan.

It really is impossible to tell the difference between a deliberate troll and an authentic moron, so I’ll split the difference and assume Steve is a moronic troll.

It really is impossible to tell the difference between a deliberate troll and an authentic moron, so I’ll split the difference and assume Steve is a moronic troll.

Exactly, so we should all stop replying to his silliness. I should not have replied to him to start with, but I felt that SOMEone should point out the stupidity – now that we all know that plenty of us have issues with his comments, we should drop it.

You’re right as far as comics in general don’t have the influence necessary to harm the women’s movement, but that’s not at all what she’s claiming. Comic culture may be insular, but she’s a member of that culture, and she certainly has an interest in the portrayal of women within it. That’s all that’s being said.

Steve -

I won’t speak for Kelly. As for me, I certainly don’t want all fiction to reflect my viewpoint. I just want more female protagonists and more variety and depth among female characters. Do you know that a study published a few years ago showed that only about 10% of the protagonists of movies are female? I wonder what the percentage would be in comics?

Yes, regarding gender, our modern Western society is more just and enlightened than any other in history. But we still have a LOT of room to improve. Female characters in fiction currently suffer from the burden of having to serve as role models in a way that male characters don’t, and that is because we have a lot less females.

Troll. K. Whatever.

Anyway,

Hyperbole, yes. Because what the hell is the author fighting for? Should I inform the female superiors, supervisors and managers in every job I’ve had in my life that they are being undermined by an oppressive society? They seem to be unaware.

I was also a teenager of the 90′s, and this was when I first found the Marvel Universe, with my first issue being Avengers #329. From there I pretty much bought and devoured every Marvel title I could get my hands on, including the umpty-zillion X-books that were flooding the shelves. As such, I never developed much of a care for the character of Psylocke, mostly because at this time in the X-books, she was mostly background filler, overshadowed by more popular characters, Wolverine, Rogue and Gambit.

She is definately a character who is in great need of a make-over. Give her an image that makes her stand out from all the other scantily clad, sword/gun weilding female characters. To the unitiated, at first glance, is there anything that diferentiates Psylocke from Elektra? Give her a haircut, a costume/outfit that pays homage to both her English and Japanese hertiage, get her out of the shadows of the X-books and try to define who exactly she is.

Your column has provoked much discussion. In that respect, it is a huge success.

I agree with thejamminjabber.

That’s why I’ve yet to call somebody who disagrees with me a troll.

You should also know that I love the hell out of Psylocke. And I’m talking Jim Lee style badass ninja Psylocke. I know, I know, she’s designed to be “so awesome” that it should actually negate her actual awesomeness, but I fell in love with her when I was still a teenager, when I was easily impressed and could not yet tell when people were trying to make something “cool” just to hook me. I was not the wily consumer I am now. I loved Psylocke so much I STILL have her 1992 Jim Lee trading card. See? Tell me that isn’t love?

This was a great column and since I read superhero books for a just a few years and gave them up in favor of manga I wanted to comment on the issue of actually liking and / or identifying with female characters in superhero titles. When I was a teenager I never identified with (or perhaps even liked?) women in superhero comics. I don’t think I *disliked* them, but they never made much of an impression on me. Maybe I thought they were just decorative? Who knows, either way I’ve come to realize there are ways to not only create female characters of depth in comics of all kinds but also to create *narratives* that are more female friendly as a whole.

I still read a few American comics (Scalped, Criminal) but I’ve kind of given up on reading superhero books because the storytelling tended to alienate me more than anything else.

Don’t use my compliments to support your argument, Troll Boy.

Oh, Kelly, two minor critiques of your assessment of Psylocke’s costuming history…

1.) The armored costume with the cape was very appropriate for Betsy. In her British body, she was hardly a hand-to-hand combatant and didn’t need as full a range of movement as some of the other characters. Also, underneath her cloak ( which I thought gave her a mysterious look, fitting for a telepath’s image ) she was wearing full body armor– not only a good idea for combat, but the exact opposite of her other costumes!

2.) Betsy in her Asian body did have one decent costume in 2000, where she traded the thong swimsuit for a tank top and pants. Her midriff was visible, but this was a vast improvement over the thong; unfortunately, since it occurred in an otherwise disdained period for the book ( especially in terms of costuming, because the X-Men took to these hideous armored concoctions ), it was quickly reversed once X-Treme X-Men came around.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Because maybe I’m an idealistic moron, but I really think the numbers would not be significantly different…I think the percentage of people buying superhero comics solely for wank factor are pretty small.

Back when MASH was on, one of the actors (not Alda), paid for his own market research on the show, as he wanted to get rid of the laugh track. The studio wanted to keep it as they felt people wouldn’t like it as much without it.
He screened an episode to two different groups of people – one with laugh track, one without.
The audience laughed at all the same jokes, and rated the episode the same.
He went to the studio heads and said ‘See, there’s no difference, let’s get rid of the laugh track’.
The studio said ‘There’s no difference, let’s keep it’.

Which is to say, even if you could prove to Marvel that there wouldn’t be a difference in sales, they’d probably still go with the arse shot, because they fear change.
(Or, they just enjoy making comics that you don’t want to be seen reading on public transport).

That cover for #2… looks to me like she’s expecting to get spanked.

Oh good, it’s not just me. Between the way she’s arching her ass up in the air, and the angle that the ninja behind her is holding the flat of his blade, well…

“Quiet or papa spank!”

“Don’t use my compliments to support your argument, Troll Boy.”

ooo mature!

I wasn’t referring to my argument. I am noticing a general trend, however, of silencing and labeling the opposing viewpoint, which is completely consistent with the tone of this article. So I guess it doesn’t really surprise me.

Steve, people are jumping on you because you were abrasive, disrespectful and confrontational right out of the gate. Tone matters.

Excellent article. ‘Rant’ does it a disservice.

Funky – Excellent point and what an awesome little anecdotal trivia tidbit to illustrate the point. That story further deepens my love for Alan Alda.

Psylocke #1 is consistent (in both art and writing) with the way the character has been portrayed for 20 years. The way this rant ramped up so quickly, I really thought there would be something in the book that was radically offensive, but I can’t see it, especially not for someone who is an admitted fan of Psylocke.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm

That story further deepens my love for Alan Alda.

We all love Alda, but it was one of the other actors who did it.

Great article, albeit a disappointing appraisal of the long-awaited revival of Psylocke, one of my favorite X-Men. And I also grew up reading the ’90s X-Men, which I also thought was oh-so-cool at the time. So it’s not just you, Kelly.

BTW this article makes a great combo with Monika Bartyzel’s op-piece on “New Moon” here: http://www.cinematical.com/2009/11/23/girls-on-film-sparkly-vamps-sweaty-wolves-and-skin-flicks/

The New Moon piece points out how “The Twilight-phobic are fed up with the [bare male] skin everywhere, and it’s led to a lot of hostility and animosity while revealing a rather amusing double standard. Men are finally forced to face the fact that prudishness isn’t the only reason why rampant skin on the big screen can be annoying.”

I wonder if any anti-Feminazi types will quickly pick up the banner of Twi-hards and defend their rights to copious amounts of beefcake despite the possibility of turning off one of the key moviegoing demographics?

And I wonder why comics companies keep catering to a certain type of demographic regardless of how it may impact their ability to attract other kinds of fans–especially female fans to a title featuring one of Marvel’s most well-known and popular female heroes.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm

I wonder if any anti-Feminazi types will quickly pick up the banner of Twi-hards and defend their rights to copious amounts of beefcake despite the possibility of turning off one of the key moviegoing demographics?

With the money that sucka has made already, I doubt anyone’s been turned off by anything.

especially female fans to a title featuring one of Marvel’s most well-known and popular female heroes.

She may be female, but she’s not aimed at females.

I agree the covers are REALLY poor and I absolutley loathe her proportions, personally i have absolutley no problem with the leotard, Storm, Ms Marvel and Elektra all run around in similar outfits and never get half as much flak as poor under appreciated mis-used Psylocke does.

Thats the point Psylocke has this stupidly complicated history (what X-man doesnt by this point really?) but underneath all that she was always a great character, her ruthlessness, her joi de livre, the awesome mix of powers and fighting abilitys and yes her sexiness, Psylocke has always been a somewhat kinky girl even before she ever went ninja go back and read the comics if u dont believe me. Shes great even you said so yourself and fans like me have been waiting to finally see how she feels about all this horrible stuff that has happened to her and now is the time to get that all out the way once and for all and hopefully give her a new starting point and proper place among the x-men, why would you deny her that opportunity after the years and years of having Rogue, Wolverine, Storm and Gambit shoved down our throats until we are sick.

Although I mostly agree with what Monika Bartyzel says, she seems to skip over some of the more problematic aspects of Twilight (perhaps more the books than the movies). She says that “Edward is some psycho stalker” but that seems to be underplaying it. Not only can our hero Edward barely restrain himself from attacking Bella, he seems to be gratuitously congratulated for the fact that he hasn’t attacked Bella. Twilight seems to say that any man who can restrain himself from attacking you is the man of your dreams. That seems to be a pretty poor message to send to impressionable young women. It doesn’t just have “crazy plot points”, it has positively anti-feminist ones.

I feel compelled to make a point on this column regarding how women tend to comment that seeing women in comics with teeny little waists and big boobs etc… is so degrading to women and how it affects their psyche and self esteem (an issue on which I could go for hours) in harmful ways. It seems to me that the only time women complain of this is when they are older and able to fully realize that their “hot” days are either behind them or never really existed in the first place and now they feel embittered by that and look to place the blame on some external source rather than either looking at themselves and seeing that they wasted prime physical years or accepting that they never had the ability to be one of the top 1% in the first place. This author (Kelly Thompson) goes on about how as a young (16 year old) girl she found the covers with these girls enticing in various ways including the “badass” appeal. She then states that as her 33 year old self she can she it for the degrading message that it is. I would argue that at 16, she was in a place where that image is not threatening because she is in the prime of life and that level of “hotness” is still a believed reality (and yes I am aware that it is not a realistic portrayal of a female figure). Now that she is 33 and her best physical years are behind her she can find that image degrading because of the resentment that she has about the fact that she probably never reached that particular level of sexiness in her real life. Please note that I have no idea what Kelly Thompson looks like or ever looked like, I am only commenting on the, most likely, subconscious feeling that she now has about the fact that time takes everyones looks and physical abilities from them. The reason that young women (and people in general) are attracted to attractive things is, quite simply, because they are attractive. I rarely see any comments from people stating how the images of male superheroes are destructive to young boys. However if you look in any comic the male heroes are ripped beyond what is possible beyond serious bodybuilders. Did I notice this as much when I was young and first reading comics? No. Do I notice it more now? Yes. As I have aged and lost atletic ability and muscle tone and had to find a job and got relationships etc… the physical image has gone down. Do I go around commenting that the images of the Incredible Hulk are degrading to men? No. The fact is these are comic books and complete fantasy. Ultimately the beauty of the free society is that if a person finds something has a level of merit that they believe is not worth the money it would cost, they can simply not purchase that item be it toothpaste, books, movies, video games or anything else under the sun. This is why I do not buy many independent comics (Feel free to take me to task on this but I stand by my assertion that most do not sell well because they suck). Again I know that this is a bit off topic and it is not a condemnation of the author here but I just get sick of seeing people (usually women 30 and over) complaining about the image presented of girls/women when the girls in many cases find that image enticing (as Kelly stated in her article) to begin with. Just my 2 cents on said issue.

Also in regards to my previous post let it be said that I avoided the “bad girl” comics like the plague since I always found them to be extremely short on story.

Wow. There are so many comments here, I can’t possibly begin.

So I’ll go with a general: “Thanks to all of you who are enjoying the column – and also to those of you who may not be agreeing with it but are participating in an intelligent discussion – which is half the fun of comics.”

To Michael re: what I responded to as a teen about Psylocke: I think, one of the things that happened for me with Psylocke was that Xtinction Agenda was the first crossover I ever read – I had to go backwards to do it – but once I discovered comics I became this crazy money spending black hole that hunted down back issues like my life depended on it (mostly X-Men at the time). So in Xtinction Agenda Psylocke got a considerable amount of page time, probably because she’d recently been resurrected in her new form and Claremont was pushing the character a bit. Anyway, she got to do some pretty cool stuff like climb around in vents with machine guns and pretend to sell out the team only to come back and rescue them, etc. It was particularly a lot of page time for a single character in the middle of a four book crossover. That kind of sealed my early impression of her – tough, smart, wily, creative, and cool (plus, as mentioned, I liked the look of her).

She also was one of those characters that didn’t speak constantly, and so when she did it seemed important, it made her different from a lot of the other characters. Also, while I had problems with ‘the body swapping’ I always though they were really going to delve into that – what it would be like to wake up in a totally different body. They never really did, which was a let down to me over the years. I think I also liked early on that Psylocke was so obviously a good guy with her intentions in the right place, but she seemed less goody goody-ish and almost hard and interesting in a way that a character like Jean Grey never seemed to me. As I came to know about the other version of her, I liked that side of her as well, and it only added depth to me about who she was and perhaps what had changed in her and about her when her physical self changed – another thing I find fascinating to think about. I think I felt even at that young age that the character had almost unlimited potential – which can be intriguing on its own.

Over time I don’t really love (or like) what they did with her, and eventually I stopped reading. The fangirl in me was excited to see her come back with a mini-series in the same way I was excited to see Claremont go back in time to do X-men Forever…sadly, both have been endlessly disappointing to me.

Interesting side note, some of those same issues (X-Men #270 I think) also made me love Gambit (the scene when he takes a spike in his leg on purpose, then later removes it from his leg with his teeth and picks the lock with his feet to free everyone? Awesome!). Of course, over the years he became a character I barely recognize, but at the time, there was nothing cooler than than that scene and Betts crawling through vents Die Hard style – but there’s no accounting for taste I suppose!

Busterchops: I think there is a certain amount of validity to what you say. Not in that women (or me particularly – we can use me if that makes the analogy easier) run around at 16 thinking we’re going to be hot like “insert supeheroine name here” but more in the naivete that we don’t yet always understand that we have many other things to offer that don’t include “being hott!”. I think it’s true that objectifying images of women in comics are slightly less threatening to young girls in the most obvious way – but in the less obvious ways – like self esteem and eating disorders – they are incredibly damaging – and can be life threatening.

As for the idea that men and womens’ figures are both being portrayed as an unachievable ideal. I’ve heard this argument a lot, and I don’t entirely disagree with it, but consider this: The male “ideal” that we are shown in comics relates directly to what we think of in regard to being a superhero – strength, physical prowess, speed, height, etc. Whereas the physical “ideal” we are presented with for women almost always relates to women as beauty and sexuality – porn star or model figures. If men and women both looked like people at the height of physical perfection (gymnasts? weightlifters? swimmers?), I’d more easily buy this idea that everything is all equal and square in the depiction of men and women…but they’re not…in general women look like porn stars and men look like athletes (albeit exaggerated ones). I think this same issue applies to the posing. Men are posed mostly like heroes and athletes. Women are posed mostly in sexually suggestive or alluring positions.

Additionally, women are not only required to be physically perfect porn stars but women are also expected to be drop dead gorgeous and to wear clothing that is absolutely ridiculous for fighting crime. While you see plenty of attractive male supeheroes in comics, it’s not a pre-requisite, and the costumes, while still form fitting, are a damn sight more advanced than what the ladies have got going on.

You actually used one of the best examples of this in your own post. Hulk = monster. She-Hulk = stone cold fox. Not exactly a balanced scale.

I’m not saying this is true across the board of course. There are many exceptions to the rule (on both sides), but in general…I think it holds up pretty well, at least in my reading experience.

I’d also like to go on the record as saying that I’d be delighted DELIGHTED to see less overly muscled heroes in my superhero comics. Sure, some places it really works and is even necessary (Batman, Nightwing, etc., immediately spring to mind)…but I’d be happy to see less of it.

As for independent comics – what have you tried? Care for any recommendations? Some of them are the best things I’ve ever read. Doesn’t mean I don’t still love my superheroes.

This got long. Should have saved it all up for another post for some other day.

I would love to see less muscled heroes, also. Things aren’t as bad now as they were in the ’90s, but the muscles still seem to be ridiculously huge and grotesque. With the more extreme artists, the musclemen don’t even look human. They’re hideous. That’s not so bad if the character is supposed to be a freak, like the Hulk, but sometimes the overly-muscled heroes are supposed to be gorgeous hunks, but they’re clearly not.
As for the female bodies, if the hands are bigger than the waist, then something is clearly wrong.

I always felt Psylocke was a copout for Marvel. They realized they needed some important minority characters and rather than create one they just forced a British mind into a Japanese body. That doesn’t make her Asian, Marvel. It’s like poetic manifest destiny. And it definitely doesn’t work when the Japanese body is drawn white. I don’t know which part of me is more bothered by this comic, the woman or the minority.

Also, as another poster mentioned, what are those black bands on her legs? I imagine it’s a lot of work to squeeze into that outfit and then take the time to tie those straps around her legs individually. I don’t know, maybe she gets cold without them.

Kelly, great column (enjoyed your last one as well). For me, you very inadvertently and concisely summed up why I’m glad I stopped reading comics regularly just before the 90s, and why I’ve never regretted the decision, or intend to play catch-up (well, o.k., there are some exceptions…)
Also, your comment about the differing significance attached to the beefcake (men) and cheesecake (women) portrayals in comics is spot on. Keep up the good work.

It’s great to see a column with a feministic slant, and I’m definitly going to be sure to keep an eye on this in future! Even if it does have the possibly inevitable side effect of drawing the feministophobes out of the woodwork…

As for Psylocke, I was actually having a conversation on this subject just the other week. To my mind, a lot of the problem is that in some ways her ‘modern’ incarnation seems to be trapped with her most iconic costume being more 90s Image than modern Marvel.

But really she does need to be modernised visually, even if you only went so far as to fill in the bare patches of her body with a different coloured material, and just generally adjust so it looks more practical than tittilating. Some people will argue that that’s the point of the character, but unless you are going to make some kind of commentary on that, that’s not a character trait – thats a blatant character design choice designed to appeal to men.

The other thing I always think is that even if you work on the assumpting than spandex is ‘normal’ in comic book unvierses, there are two guidelines that kind of show up the standard of women’s costume design in comics:

1) If a woman was to walk down an average high street in the day, in a certain costume, would people find it embarassing, or would someone ask them to go home and cover up?

Remember, Psylocke is supposedly British, and in general my impression is that as a vague generalisation our (I’m from the UK myself) we tend to be more prudish in clothing than Americans, and really speaking, if Psylocke were to walk down an average british street in public theres a good chance someone would ask her to cover up. There would probably also be complaints getting sent by mothers and elderly people to the X-mansion that she wasn’t wearing enough clothes for a public role model.

2) If a man was to walk down an average high street in the day, in a male equivelant of a that costume, would people find it embarassing, or would someone ask them to go home and cover up?

The answer is going to be yes in a LOT of cases here. If, a male superhero of roughly equivical fame had their costume changed so that it contained a thong or even swim suit style trunks, there would be fanboy, and quite possibly tabloid outcry. You can argue that that’s a difference in real world fashion as much as in comics itself, but even if you take it to a superhero who fights crime in a pair of speedos there would still be complaints.

Now to quickly address some points that seem to frequently come my way whenever I publicly express my views on things like this to save me having to make frustrated responses later. I’m feministic, I’m male, I’m heterosexual and I have a girlfriend. The first of those has no effect on the other three. Continuing from that, I have no problem with the female body BUT there are two sides to that issue – firstly, while I have no interest in being a nudist, I wish people would get over the stigma of the exposed human body, but overriding that, what I dislike more than that stigma is the assumption that by publicly defying it is ‘sexy’ when really its often just a bit juvenile.

I wish comics (and games, and to a slightly lesser extent all other visual media) would learn to stop trying force ridiculous blatant parodies of ‘sexy’ onto us when it’s much better to organically and subjectively make up our own oppinions of these things.

Just…….No.Thats my reaction to this whole thread.NO.

Its comic books.COMIC BOOKS.The girl moves things with her mind and kicks 100 ninjas asses on her own.

If people cant differenciate between real life and fantasy land its their own fault.
Im fed up with Psylocke,Barbie,Marilyn Manson,Britney Spears etc etc etc getting blamed for destroying individuals self esteem/condidence/manners/minds/dress sense etc etc etc.

Psylocke has large breasts.so so other women in the world.there ARE hot girls out there,and the big boobs small waist hot face girls DO exsist.
Next girls with big breasts will be complaining about Jubilee or X-23 for being flast chested.

Why is it nearly always girls who have a problem with the way women are portrayed in comics?
I mean men dont go around complaining that they cant compete with Wolverines arms or Gambits stomach.If its your inner confidence about yourself having problems with random images or visualisatons you should be sorting out your inner self not looking outward.

And on the case of the comic book,writing and art,Its comes down to the age old answer.TASTE.

Personally i love the art,its beautiful and better than most of the ongoing mainstream superhero comics.I hope that the artist gets to replace Land on Uncanny actually and the difference (or lack thereof) between asian and british has been going on for years,some artists get it (rarely) some dont.Its almost a staple in Psylockes history now.Get used to it.

and the story.Its a great set up for the rest of the series,a nice introduction to where Psylockes been and where she is going.Judging a mini on the first issue is almost criminal.This is an ACTION story with some character development along the way.It does what it says on the tin.and VERY well while its at it.so far.Wait until the story is finished to make up your mind.But by the sounds of it people had their minds up before the first issue even came out.

“Everything that’s mentioned here in the article is pretty much the extent of the character development for a single character in a team book. By this argument you could say Spiderman is convoluted, Superman is convoluted, Batman is convoluted. Why, because “comic-booky” things happen to them to keep the character going and not be static in storytelling.”

The difference here is that Spider-Man, Superman and Batman all have a fairly simple default state that they can return to, and the changes they go through don’t tend to become cumulative over time. Imagine if Spider-Man had six arms AND drove the Spider-Mobile AND wore the alien symbiote costume AND was a clone AND had organic web-shooters and spikes in his arms AND used Stark technology…and all this was treated as an integral part of the character that you were exected to understand every time the character appeared, rather than if and when it became relevant.

The problem with Psilocke is the same overall with the X-Men: there is such a game of one-upmanship with the characters (“my plotline will be ever BIGGER than the other writer’s!”) which sometimes happens even with the same creator (Claremont just kept reinventing them) that you end up with baggage in a matter of years that characters in other series would take DECADES to build up. That they have so many books featuring them at the same time doesn’t help.

Fortunately, the solution is easy: just use the facts you NEED for a particular story, and don’t even mention the rest until you have to. For example, with Psilocke, the only thing you usually need to know is that she’s an Asian female ninja with telepathic powers who is on the X-Men’s side. The fact that she wasn’t originally Asian should not be mentioned unless the story requires it. (Note, the WRITERS should not forget those facts, otherwise they might contradict things, but the *reader* shouldn’t be confused by unnecessary exposition.)

Sadly, considering THIS story deals with her origin, that stuff has to come up, but the rest of the time, just avoid it.

“She would prefer that creators of comic books be stifled because drawing a suggestively dressed women is somehow hurting womankind.”

The problem, to my mind, is that this isn’t a suggestively dressed woman. The figure on display in those two Psylocke covers bears only slightly more relationship to the anatomy of a human female than it does to a turnip.

“Psylocke has large breasts.so so other women in the world.there ARE hot girls out there,and the big boobs small waist hot face girls DO exsist.”

Do me a favor – find me a photograph, unairbrushed, of a woman who actually has the proportions and breast shape of Psylocke in Psylocke #2.

The thing about Psylocke is that it was until after Claremont had left that she became such a convoluted mess. He was doing some interesting stuff with her, even in the Asian body, which following writers never picked up on. It was the introduction of the whole Kwannon mess that messed up the character. Before that, she wasn’t that hard to follow. She was simply an British woman who went through the Siege Perilous, the hand found her, and molded her into an assassin, physically and mentally. She had issues with this of course, and it brought her closer to Wolverine, as this was now something they had in common. And she relished being able to fight physically now. Prior to being changed, she always saw herself as a liability against foes who she couldn’t manipulate mentally, and wished she was a warrior along the lines of Storm and Wolverine. Once she got her wish, though, it was also problematic for her; during the final Claremont issues, she even comments that she’s choosing to fight her opponents up close and hand to hand, when she could do it much safer from a distance via her telepathy, and that it was something that could be used against her (and was an issue later after making that statement).

Sadly, after Claremont left, she was relegated to Asian ninja bimbo by lusting after Cyclops, and then the whole Kwannon mess begins…

Incidentally, I always thought initially, she was supposed to look Eurasian, as opposed to just Asian. The first time Wolverine meets her after the hand changes her, he notices a familiarity about her, then he sees her face once the Lady Mandarin mask is removed and comments “Your face!”. It could either mean he recognized her face, in that she looked like the British Psylocke but now looked a bit more Asian, or, he recognized her scent but was shocked to see a new face with that scent…

All right, let’s do one point by point. Once more with feeling, as it were.

“I don’t get it, I never did. Why do some women have problems with the “cheesecake” art that was and will always be part of comics? It will never change and there is really no reason why it should.”

Sure there is – it’s degrading.

“As long as the characters are good written and there’s a good story behind it, what’s so terrible about the art?”

Well, quite a lot – if comics weren’t a visual medium, sure, the art wouldn’t matter. But comics are as much the art as they are the stories, and so if the art is systematically degrading to women, that matters.

“There are enough hypermuscled males in each comicbook for women who enjoy them.”

Not that the bodybuilder physique is generally the major turn-on for women. Go flip through People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” choices for the last while – winners are people like Hugh Jackman, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, and other men who are far from the Mr. Universe bodybuilder image. The bodybuilder image is largely a *male* fantasy about the male body – not a female one.

“It’s just the way superherocomics are. Women all have model bodies and the male heroes look like Mr. Universe contestants.”

Sure. But you have to ask yourself, is it problematic that women are portrayed to attract men, and men are portrayed… to attract men? I mean, do you not see how that excises a significant chunk of potential readership, if the art is utterly configured around attracting men?

“If you can’t get over that, fine by me, I just feel it’s a waste of time.

Now, bad writing and bad art, as shown in the inbook panels, taht is something you have every right o complain about and based on your review I’ll defnitely not buy the miniseries.”

Unrealistic hyper-sexualized depictions of women that reduce them to sex objects are bad art.

“The cover to Nr. 1 is not that bad a cover, it’s just cheesecake, and I know a female artist who likes to draw exactly that kind of pictures.”

Good for her. She sure invalidates the large number of women who feel objectified and degraded by that kind of picture.

“A lot of men and boys like to look at pictures of beautiful, sexy drawn women, do they wank of over them,? Some might, most probably don’t, anyway, what is so terrible about it? (The drawings I mean)”

To be fair, I don’t think Kelly’s argument is anti-wanking. I mean, let’s be clear here – I think we’re all in favor of a good wank. But on the other hand, it is problematic in the extreme that superhero comics uniformly portray women as wank material. I mean, there are some real problems with a fictional world where women are uniformly sex objects.

“We know women don’t look like this in real life, hell, I know nobody who looks like Thor or Captain America, but really in what pseudofeminist minds is there anything bad about this?”

No pseudofeminism in it. For one thing, as I said, the issue is that the point of the unrealism is different in each case. Women are turned into sex objects for men. Men are… not turned into sex objects for women. I mean, go ahead – find me the covers of men teasing the viewer while offering a conspicuous ass shot. Find me the covers that look like these: http://odditycollector.livejournal.com/97166.html

“”THEM’S JUST PRETTY PICTURES,” (or not so pretty, if you don’t like them) but nothing more.”

Nothing in popular culture is ever “just” superficial.

I’d just like to congratulate Kelly for setting the site on fire in only her second outing here. I think the rest of us took at least five or six posts or more to manage it… even Joe and Alex. Second time out may be the record.

That cover really is awful.

Greg Hatcher FTW. Kelly, if you’ve made people this crazy, clearly you’re doing something right.

I think it’s a good analysis. As someone who grew up with comics in the 90′s (I started a little earlier, but now by that much), I think it’s interesting to look at the evolution of the characters we liked then and how we feel about them now.

I don’t get too spun up over cheesecake shots in comics, but I have to say I’m a little tired of the constant parade of butt-shots a lot of artists seem to be going for these days (Ed Benes, I’m looking at you). This one is less gratuitous than some, but it’s also not very interesting. Covers should be interesting first, descriptive of the story inside second, and everything else third, IMHO.

I didn’t bother buying this issue (despite always kinda liking Psylocke as a character, even through the era where every 3rd sentence out of her mouth was “the focused totality of my telepathic powers!”), because it looked like a mess. It sounds like my first impression was right.

Kelly,

Your rant is so spot-on. Thank you! This is why Psylocke should go back to her original incarnation to undo all of this. She’s a pinup for the sexist, racist Asian fetish that is ubiquitous in Western society now. Have you considered sending your rant dircetly to Marvel?

I’m trying to find a link to it, but once read an interview where Alan Davis talks about how such a rich character was detstroyed by this change, and that Psylocke’s current incarnation may as well be a differnt character altogether.

Just to add something which I forgot to include earlier:

If you consider that for all intents and purposes, the superhero genre is the public face of the comics medium, it’s character designs are arguably frequently derrivative to the public perception of the maturity of the medium. I’m not even necessarily talking about just the female characters here, but generally speaking the more covers we have with either women idealised to the point of deformity or men muscled to the point of obsurdity we have, the more childish superheroes look, and thus more childish comics look.

Equally, if a comic section in a shop has a high proportion of characters on it which look like that, if parents have any involvement you are quite possibly going to be raising the lower end of the reading age of comics – especially if you consider that even in the big household titles we have Black-cat, Catwoman, Emma Frost etc. Which isn’t to say that I demmand they all start wearing big baggy woolly jumpers from their next appearances onward, however, what they do need are artists who can maturely balance the sexuality of these characters against the reality of women, both in form and clothes.

Also Phil – great link!

On a complete tangent (enjoyed the post, Kelly, looking forward to continuing to read your columns) can I just say I’m 100% with you on this:

the scene when he takes a spike in his leg on purpose, then later removes it from his leg with his teeth and picks the lock with his feet to free everyone? Awesome!

That blew my mind back in the day, and it’s still one of my favorite comic book moments. I’ve never even been that big of a Gambit fan, but that scene was pretty awesome.

Alex, while I agree with you, I think I gotta ask something.

Maturity?

You get the big male-oriented movies, and you have lots and lots of cheesecake and Jessica Alba in a tiny bikini, and Megan Fox in suggestive poses.

Don’t take it the wrong way, I think that second Psylocke cover is outrageous too. But it’s not like comics are this ghetto for sexism in a otherwise mature society.

If there was ever a way to successfully ban women from using sexuality to sell or obtain anything, a large chunk of women would protest it as vehemently as men. I get sick of the pc brigade making this a men vs women issue, women exploit their sexuality just as much as men exploit their sexuality. Tell women they can’t use self-objectification to skip the lines and get free drinks at the bar. Tell female actresses, dancers and models they can’t show off their natural assets in order to get an edge on their competition during auditions. Tell Beyonce, Gaga, Shakira and Madonna they have total freedom from having to titillate men in their musical expression and see if they’re willing to give it up. Tell girls across the world they can no longer put hypersexualized underwear and bikini pics of themselves on social networking sites.

I just get tired of this image of the modern Western woman being this chaste being that wants so bad not to be sexualized and objectified in any way, especially for personal gain, and this big bad male patriarchy is putting a gun to her head to do so.

The second sentence should have said:

I get sick of the pc brigade making this a men vs women issue, women exploit female sexuality just as much as men exploit female sexuality.

“But it’s not like comics are this ghetto for sexism in a otherwise mature society.”

Well, yes and no – Megan Fox and Jessica Alba have the annoying constraint of being human beings, and thus being unable to do the things Psylocke is doing in those images. Comics can distort further than film or photography ever can. And when photograph does distort like that, it causes a heck of a lot more controversy than most comics covers do – case in point, http://boingboing.net/2009/10/06/the-criticism-that-r.html

“f there was ever a way to successfully ban women from using sexuality to sell or obtain anything, a large chunk of women would protest it as vehemently as men.”

Sure. But, erm, nobody is actually suggesting that. Nobody is even opposed to sexual female characters. But there’s a difference between sexual and sex object.

“I just get tired of this image of the modern Western woman being this chaste being that wants so bad not to be sexualized and objectified in any way, especially for personal gain, and this big bad male patriarchy is putting a gun to her head to do so.”

Some women, I agree, seem to be willing or indeed eager to be objectified.

Others are not. I dare say, most are not, at least in the general case. (And I assume you are not arguing that once a woman ever allows herself to be objectified she has consented to being objectified forevermore)

If mass culture skews entirely towards depicting women in the former category, that is a problem.

Very good column and great observations. I was a fan of psylocke’s transformation into the psychic knife-wielding ninja. I think looking back Jim Lee was guilty of the same sexism, its just the rest of his art was so appealing, it was easy to overlook. Then the 90s came and what once was pushing boundaries became clear sexism thanks to tons of bad imitators. The ninja costume is cool, but like with Elektra, theres a fine line between cool and ridiculous. Fighting in a ninja bodysuit seems believable…fighting in a thong – ridiculous. Being a badass girl and a bad girl are two different things and the artists don’t always get it. Look at Finch’s cover of X-Infernus…I was so excited to see Magik back, especially after Skottie Young’s great art. Finch’s cover might as well be Lady Death. The only thing tortured about her is how she keeps her outfit on…and the interiors weren’t much better.

Some women, I agree, seem to be willing or indeed eager to be objectified.

Others are not. I dare say, most are not, at least in the general case. (And I assume you are not arguing that once a woman ever allows herself to be objectified she has consented to being objectified forevermore)

If mass culture skews entirely towards depicting women in the former category, that is a problem.

I’d argue more women are cool with objectifying themselves than aren’t. They may complain about not being objectified on their own terms or being able to control their objectification or objectified against their will, but when it comes to consensual objectification beautiful women support and benefit from it as much if not more than men. Look at Spring Break. Go to nightclubs. Go to bars. Look at Myspace and Facebook profiles and go through the photo albums.

Most of the women who complain about objectification are either aging and are now turning against it to hedge their bets for their fading attractiveness, were never attractive enough to benefit from objectifying themselves in the first place or went a university where PC professors who fell into the first two categories (aging out of hotness and never having been hot) managed to brainwash young attractive women into hating their best weapon.

If straight men could profit off of their sexuality without having to pander to gay men, they’d do it by the truckloads as well. In fact, now that feminism has made women less dependent on men for financial security, women are freer than ever to become as shallow as men and focus on a man’s visuals and we are now seeing an increase of objectifying men to appeal to female audiences. Look at the Twilight movies and all the topless shots of the actors in it we’re currently being exposed to.

Well done! As a teenage boy I don’t think I thought about the oversexed versions of these women before. It just seemed like the standard and as a boy that didn’t question standards all that much, I just went along my merry way reading it. I remember the first book I ever bought…of any title was a cover of Storm standing in the rain, crying. I don’t remember how objectifying that cover was…it could have been. All I remember thinking was, “I wonder what Storm is crying about, and I wonder if she’s making it rain”. The symbolism was probably lost on my adolescent mind at the time. I loved that cover. It was interesting, thought provoking, and it made me want to read the STORY.

I’m not an art snob. If the art jives with the story, I’m generally cool. I bypass the objectionable female poses like I do other objectionable content on the news,etc… I just ignore it and wonder what I could really do to combat it with the 3 hours of free time I have in a day. Thanks Kelly for using your 3 hours to combat it.

Lastly, and more pleasantly, I remember playing a made up game of ‘war’ with those jim lee trading cards. Best part was arguing with my sibling about which person would really win in a one on one battle. Made car trips fly!

Rene: Oh I’d agree that those are hardly mature either. But there are two big differences – firstly though they are bad, you don’t ever really get anything as bad as, say… a generic Witchblade or Bomb Queen cover (which are mixed right in with everything else) which to my mind tend to look like they are trying to get as close to being porn without actually being so as possible.

Also, though those are undeniably cheesecake kind of films, the public knows there are other genres of film – and just as importantly, films have a widely known all encompassing demographic, to some degree there are going to be films for most tastes. Comics are kind of shoehorned as a medium entirely for geeky young males in the public perception. That may not be entirely true, but while random person X outside that demographic thinks that, the chances of them getting into the medium and giving it demographical room to expand are low.

Really there is also more room for expansion of diversity in film-making too but pretty much everyone goes to the cinema already while realistically the number of people who read comics is comparativly minimal…

Bernard the Poet

November 24, 2009 at 1:35 pm

@Rahsaan – if you can find that link to the Alan Davis interview, I’d love to read it.

I’ve always wondered about the politics involved in Psylocke’s metamorphosis from Brit to Ninja.

I first came across Betsy Braddock in the Alan Moore/Alan Davis Captain Britain series. She was written and drawn to look rather plain – she wore sensible clothes, had a sensible, slightly balding, boyfriend and nice manners. Paradoxically, she really stood out.

Claremont was clearly a big fan of the Alan Moore/Alan Davis series, so I wasn’t very surprised to see her imported into the X-Men. Unfortunately, he didn’t really seem to know what to do with her, once he had her, and she spent a lot of time in the background. Then without any real attempt to make the original character popular or interesting, Claremont shoved her through the Siege Perilous and she came out the other end as a sexy ninja.

Does anyone know why?

The Marc Silvestre run on the X-Men was rather light on cheesecake ( – Storm, Dazzler, Rogue & Pyslocke, all wore fairly sensible clothing, the Black Queen and Emma Frost were dropped and Jubilee was introduced). Was there a conscious editorial decision to sex-up the team?

Was it a copyright issue – I know Alan Moore held the rights to Jim Jaspers, the Special Executive and the Fury – was it felt that it would be legally safer to change her character as much as possible?

Or was it as mundane as she wasn’t very popular with X-Men fans, so they changed her.

If anyone has any information about this, I’d love to hear it.

ps. Kelly, your piece was well -reasoned and perfectly sober, don’t let the personal comments get to you.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Rights issues wouldn’t have impacted Psylocke much, as she and her psychic powers were created years before Alan Moore started on the UK Captain Britain series. The only thing Moore introduced with Davis was the purple hair; most of Psylocke’s traits were post-Moore writers working with Davis.

T., there are plenty of arguments against consensual self-objectification and the bulk of them are gender-blind in their applicability (if not always their actual application). The problem of Psylocke is a bit different, since it amounts to a completely made-up image. On the one hand, no actual and specific woman is being objectified; on the other hand, the comic’s art could be understood as a categorical objectification of women, which is what I suspect generates the outrage.

Of course, this is one of the genuine philosophical splits within the conservative and liberal traditions of Classical Liberalism. While both generally agree on a slate of universal human rights, liberal-Liberalism is usually willing to consider a realm in which rights can belong to social categories and can be abrogated categorically; conservative-Liberalism considers that rights only exist and have force for individuals, and that it’s nonsense to talk of rights except with reference to some discrete individual/s in his/her/their specificity.

Ironically, both of them think of themselves as more tolerant as a result: liberal-Liberalism thinks it notices an otherwise neglected set of rights violations and oppressions, and conservative-Liberalism thinks of itself as more genuinely universalist by virtue of attempting to eliminate nonvoluntary categories. (The very distinction between voluntary and involuntary social categorization is rejected to some extent by what I’m calling liberal-Liberalism. Note also that neither of these strains is what I’d want to call Left or Right-wing. I reserve those wings for positions that utterly reject Lockean individualism for some other model, most often a corporatist or collectivist one.)

For example, a conservative-Liberal would ususally need there to be some person or specific agent either being oppressed (unwillingly obectified) or, alternately, some person or specific agent trying to oppressively enforce a categorization. The liberal-Liberal will more often argue for transhuman agents of oppression belonging to institutions or social structures, to the point that they can even argue that the existence of structures and institutions essentially removes the full burden of agency from either oppressor or oppressed. To the liberal-Liberal, individual freedom is best guaranteed by considering that these systems, independent of individual actions, will enforce nonvoluntary categorizations no matter what. The most you can do is try to ameliorate or counterbalance the categorization-effects that the mere existence of lots of people in a society will inevitably generate.

Both sides idealize individual freedom, but the liberal-Liberal side doesn’t think it’s a concrete or practical possibility.

So that’s my long-winded way of saying I don’t expect you think the idea of “categorically objectifying women” makes any damn sense at all. I’m more sympathetic to it, but then, I’m to the left of that liberal-Liberal designation I conveniently invented.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 24, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Uh, make that “categorically objectifying women by overtly sexy art of a fictional character.”

I guess my view is that that ‘liberal-Liberalism’ you refer to is an intrusion of collectivism into liberal thought. But I tend to be kind of fanatical about liberty.
It’s really off the subject anyway.

I agree that comics are sexist. I agree that those Psylocke covers are sexist (and absurd, in the case of the second one), but I just don’t agree that comics are *more* sexist than the rest of society. Most people, comic readers or not, are pretty shallow and sexist.

While there is a greater variety of movies than of comics, the movies that have the most financial success usually appeal to some very shallow tastes. Movies with big explosions and special effects that dazzle the senses for the male viewer, romantic comedies that almost away serve as wish-fulfilment of the perfect courtship for female viewers. Shallow shallow shallow is the rule. Depth the exception. Most of the more comercially successfull actresses and singers use sexuality to sell. Comics are not worse, even though they’re perceived as more juvenile.

That doesn’t mean I’m not for less cheesecake in comics. I am. I’m just unsure whether comics are the worst offenders.

The biggest sexist fantasy of all time isn’t from comics. It’s James Bond. A guy that has license to kill, drives awesome cars, and has sex with an harem of gorgeous women with no commitment ever. And there were, what, 20 movies with this guy? With many Bond fans being grown-up men?

Loved the article, hopefully executives at Marvel start listening to people like you. It’s always offended me how companies like Marvel and DC seem to have a big blind spot to badly written comics featuring female leads. Things that seem like basic common sense to the rest of us seem like rocket scienceto people behind the desks with actual power to change things.

Love your comments about the covers too. You can have a sexy woman on a comic cover but not make it about her ass or her boobs and make it interesting visually. Look at Adam Hughes for example; sure a lot of his stuff is quite satirically sexist but he’s done some of the most amazing covers for Catwoman – conceptually and aesthetically.

Another reason I’m a writer and artist ; I want to hopefully create stuff better than this. Can’t wait to see more articles from you here! Consider me a fan.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Mary, I’d counter that even the founders of Classical Liberal thought like Locke drifted at times in just how “collective” the relationships of individual subjects might make them. Locke is perfectly comfortable with assigning conationals or coreligionists sets of collective traits; the Founding Fathers were all comfortably within the bounds of classical Liberalism but some seemed alright with mild collectivism too.

I think you have to get to 20th century thinkers like Friedrich Hayek before you really get arguments that collectivity of any sort is essentially illiberal, and by that point I’d argue the uncapitalized liberal/conservative split has already happened. And even there, it’s much more a reaction to Continental philosophy’s own reaction to Liberalism. (Hannah Arendt’s comparison of the American and French revolutions is useful in this regard.)

What I find interesting about both strains descended from classical Liberalism is that both adhere at some fundamental level to what I’d call essentially negative concepts of freedom, that is, liberty is freedom from external influences to the extent practically possible. The argument within Liberalism really starts from a disagreement about “the extent practically possible” and moves on from there.

Also, does anyone else think Psylocke’s costume would make all those acrobatics incredibly painful? I mean, I don’t find thongs sexy in real life because they look like they should be painful to wear. Same for high heels, which I know are awful to wear from hearing complaints about them for years. I’m told this is a false belief where thongs are concerned, but…just look! How does that not hurt? I can’t imagine fighting the Brotherhood of Morally-Conflicted Mutants in one.

“Why is it nearly always girls who have a problem with the way women are portrayed in comics?”

Well, Dave, let’s take a second to think about this: Let’s say I called you mentally retarded. Let’s say I said, “Dave is a dipshit with a brain the size of a peanut.” You get offended. I respond with, “Yeah, of course DAVE is going to get offended at being called a dipshit. Why is Dave the only person who has a problem with being called a peanut brain?”

Does it make a little more sense now?

Chris: Your response is the most legendary and yet simple thing I have ever read. 100 Internet cookies for you.

Its pretty clear the presentation of male and female forms are wildly disparate. Both male and female idealized forms are in fact the norm, often tending towards what amounts to charicature in its exageration. But the female form too often has its sexual characteristics exagerated all out of proportion and highlighted blatantly. This, as others here have pointed out, is not the case at all with the male form, however much it is idealized in some form or fashion. “Guys will think this is hot” is obviously a factor in design, whereas the reverse is not, in the main. Therein lies the inequality of the situation.

Of course, its not like this came about for the purpose of hurting or subjugating women; there are a variety of factors that played into it. It isn’t some giant hateful or willful conspiracy. But it is a reality.

I never really cared for Psylocke once she was turned asian. Maybe I go against the grain, but as a teenager in the early 90′s, it was Shadowcat I was attracted to. She seemed far more relateable and non-imposing than pretty much every other superchick. (I do confess I carried a torch for Jean Grey, going way back to my childhood)

Big boobs, arched back, and ass shots do not make for an interesting female character. Shadowcat, in her Excalibur days, was teh sh*t!

“The biggest sexist fantasy of all time isn’t from comics. It’s James Bond.”

Someone needs to read The Odyssey.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 24, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Or Cerebus #186. Yeah, someone had to do it.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 24, 2009 at 9:55 pm

The biggest sexist fantasy of all time isn’t from comics. It’s James Bond. A guy that has license to kill, drives awesome cars, and has sex with an harem of gorgeous women with no commitment ever. And there were, what, 20 movies with this guy? With many Bond fans being grown-up men?

I think you’re mistaking sexist with sexy!

Some of the films may have sexist moments, but there’s nothing sexist about the concept – it’s just an escapist fantasy.
It’s the male equivalent of a romantic comedy.

Kelly, thanks for the wonderful article. I didn’t bother reading Psylocke — I saw the cover, and the preview art, and I knew it was going to be written by Chris Yost — Thanks for reminding me why.

Have you been reading X-Men: Legacy? Gambit’s been redeemed, and so has Rogue – you may not like the way she’s drawn (and while it may be oversexed, I’m willing to suspend disbelief solely on the grounds that she’s got control over her powers and she’s making up for a bit of lost time), but she’s been pretty wonderfully written (by Mike Carey) for the last few years now.

Kelly,
thanks for responding to my comments without vitriol but in a well reasoned and well thought out method. I still don’t agree with your assessment in its entirety though. Since there have been a number of studies that show that women are attracted to strong men with traditionally “heroic” attributes it would seem that the influence on males (specifically adolescent guys) could be just as strong as the influence of the more appealing to men “sexy” aspects of women are to growing young women. In fact studies do show that steroid use has increased dramatically among men with the main reasons being, not athletic performance, but image and appeal to opposite sex. In regards to the issues of self esteem and eating disorders, (and I believe that I may be in the minority here) these are issues that I believe have been pawned off on media centers because it is easy to believe that they are the answer when actually they are (my opinion here) actually more reflective of changes in the social structures of society and conflicts between desires and messages that they receive about matters totally unrelated to media elements. I could go on in detail about my thoughts on this matter but it would involve a lot of Social revolution stuff that would encompass the last 60 years or so of social revolution in various ways and would probably not contribute much to a discussion about comics in general. :) Either way it is nice to see people discussing without name calling and insults.

I believe you have to make a distinction between what I would call ‘objectification’ and ‘sexualisation’, where sexualise someone is to make them seem sexy, and objectification is to make then seem nothing other than sexy. It’s one thing to make Psylocke sexy, but it’s another thing to never make Psylocke anything but sexy.

To objectify women is not just to allow them to use their sexuality, it’s to stop them from being able to use any other advantage. Men are able to use their sexuality, but at the same time they are also able to use their intelligence or creativity or other talents. Objectified women have to be sexy to achieve anything. That’s what isn’t fair.

Phil – I’d actually argue Heracles/Hercules is worse than Odysseus – though arguably he does die as a pretty much direct consequence of that (as does Odysseus for that matter!) so you could probably argue theres a vaguely moralistic ending… Now if James Bond were to die as a direct result of sleeping with someone…

Actually scrub that – if you take all legends containing Zeus, he probably tops the misogny league of fictional characters. Plus he does it in weird ways….

Bernard the Poet

November 25, 2009 at 3:27 am

@Rahsaan,

Thanks for the link.

I’m reeling from the story that no-one at Marvel could tell Alan Davis whether Psylocke was Japanese or Chinese.

You’re welcome, Bernard. Alan’s comment in the second link perfectly and succinctly sums up how Marvel has jacked up this character.

Well, okay. Maybe I exaggerate about James Bond. Just because something is created as a wish-fulfilment fantasy for one gender, it doesn’t mean it’s automatically demeaning to the other gender. And perhaps there are worse offenders than Bond in the realm of shameless male fantasies. Conan the Barbarian, for instance.

But it’s a big difference between male and female fantasies. I think the depiction of males in “chick flicks” are seldom demeaning to men. Jacob Black and Edward Cullen are not only studly and nice to look at when they take their shirts off. They’re also heroic and competent, after all. But the girls in Conan the Barbarian usually aren’t competent, well-rounded characters, are they?

And no, I’ve never read the Odyssey. I know the general gist of it. Odyssey leaves a faithful, chaste wife behind while he has sex with lots of hot women on his adventures or something?

I mean Odysseus.

I’m reeling from the story that no-one at Marvel could tell Alan Davis whether Psylocke was Japanese or Chinese.

It makes sense that no one would know, because that ill-conceived origin story had her being made Asian by the Mandarin (Chinese) and the Hand (Japanese), but it was never made clear which ethnicity she was being made into. To be honest, even when I finished reading the story and for years afterward I had no idea the Psylocke was turned into an Asian because Jim Lee really did a poor job at making her look Asian in the least. I just thought he was drawing her squinting. It also took me a while to realize Jubilee was Asian as well. Considering that Jim Lee is Asian himself this is shameful.

Looking at Finch’s cover above, I can at least see on improvement in Psylocke now compared to Jim Lee’s Psylocke in the 90s. She thankfully has an actual but now instead of that 90s uberflat Playboy bunny pancake booty Lee and his ilk used to draw on all their women. Thank goodness for the Finches and Chos out there who draw women with meat on their bones.

Leaving aside that this looks like a lousy and sexy book, is there any word on whether it will feature any appearances by Psylocke’s brother? I’ve gone into a bit of a Captain Britain withdrawl since the cancellation of MI:13, and I’ll take anything for it, even a poorly written cameo in a lousy book. I’m jonesing, here.

In a related note, the Black Kngiht one-shot was not what I was hoping it would be.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I think the depiction of males in “chick flicks” are seldom demeaning to men.

Man, that’s sexist!

Nearly every romantic comedy has the girl running around like a crazy loon ‘not knowing what she wants’ whilst the guy is a one dimensional ‘mr. perfect’ who has to bend over backwards to make her see that he’s the one.
Be it Mr. Big, or Tom Hanks not running from the crazy lady in Sleepless in Seattle.

Pretty much zero difference between that and a Bond girl really.
(If you want to see really sexist, watch ‘Man With The Golden Gun’ – Britt Eckland chases Moore and hard, whilst he keeps rejecting her advances… to the point he hides her in a bedroom closet whilst spending time with another woman on the bed, and she’s still super in love with him at the end).

Odyssey leaves a faithful, chaste wife behind while he has sex with lots of hot women on his adventures or something?

Typical woman’s view of it!

Gee, a 1990s fanservice character in a comic aimed at an audience of aging male geeks?!

This is inconceivable!

Funky (can I call you that?) –

Despite its poor reputation among straight men, “Sex and the City” is miles ahead of “chick flicks.”

Mister Big isn’t in any way Mr. Perfect, seriously.

He is this sardonic, cynical guy that is sometimes likeable, sometimes a jerk. Except for the final two episodes, he doesn’t bend over backwards to make Carrie see he is the one. He has major trouble with commitment and can be as neurotic as Carrie.

As for the usual depiction of males in chick flicks that you mention, being depicted as an overlooked Mr. Perfect that is chased by a crazy loon, is that so demeaning? You have to agree that it’s a lot less demeaning than being a helpless girl with huge boobs and no brain and skimpy clothes, such as in Conan (not sure about Bond, Bond girls are more femme fatales than damsels-in-distress, I suppose).

In any case, I hate most chick flicks at least as much as I hate action movies.

I’d say it’s pretty demeaning to insist male-fantasy stereotypes of women *have* to be more demeaning than female-fantasy stereotypes of men.

The impossible contortions and distortions of personality neccesary to be a movie Prince Charming sets standards just as impossible and are just as dismissive of other aspects of the male. Also, things stereotyped as male are depicted as rude, crude, bruttish, and primitive, and things stereotyped as rude, crude, bruttish, and primitive are depicted as male. That’s not demeaning? That doesn’t set up the same “be this or be ashamed of what you are” situation that women bemoan?

But the girls in Conan the Barbarian usually aren’t competent, well-rounded characters, are they?

Actually, more often than not, the ladies do pretty well in the original Conan stories. Belit. Valeria. The Devi Yasmina. Queen Taramis. Nafertari. All are tough, smart, brave, and generally exhibit traits far beyond just being hot babes who are often under-dressed. (Though in faIrness they usually are that too.) I’d call them reasonably rounded characters for thirties pulp fiction. Even the slave girl Muriela in Jewels of Gwahlur, who at first glance seems to exist solely to scream, tremble, and yell for help, proves herself to be “quite a little actress.”

And in the comics, Red Sonja did pretty well despite her impractical bikini armor and her incredibly skeevy origin. And Roy Thomas really redeemed his efforts there by his subsequent characterizations of Belit and Queen Zenobia.

James Bond in the Fleming novels is far less defensible, to be honest, and let’s not even talk about the first dozen Bond movies. There’s definitely a case to be made for misogyny there.

But the difference is that Prince Charmings are too good to be true, while Damsels-in-Distress are too bad to be true. They’re both distortions, of course. I’m just not sure how the Prince Charming stereotype is “demeaning.” Frustrating, because it’s an impossible ideal? Sure. Just like Superman is an impossible ideal. But to aspire to be more like Prince Charming (handsome, witty, courageous, capable, determined yet sensitive, etc.) doesn’t sound particularly demeaning to me. Actually, these traits sound like good stuff, no matter what your gender is.

Now, the traits associated with Damsels-in-Distress? Not so good. Except for the physical part, do you want to be helpless, dumb, submissive, and unable to fend for yourself? I don’t think it’s unreasonable or demeaning to desire an ideal partner with stunning good looks, but it is demeaning when looks and looks alone are all you’re after. A similar situation isn’t women who want a Prince Charming, but those women who want their man pretty, muscled, and dumb.

Now, the male being stereotyped as brutish and primitive, etc. Yeah, it’s bad. But I don’t see this stereotype as a pervasive one in fiction. Take comic books for instance, most male protagonists in Marvel and DC aren’t like this. Except for the Hulk.

For one, comparing Prince Charming and Damsel in Distress trait for trait isn’t right, because the fact is male fantasy and female fantasy aren’t the exact same thing, just reversed. They’re not mirror images. The needs and wants and insecurities and roles are feeding entirely different psychologies.

So females have Damsel; males have Dumb Jock (who by extension includes the primitive brute I described earlier), Skeevy Geek, Angry Badboy. There’s the guy who burps after every drink of beer after every play of football which he inevitably ignores his long-suffering wonderful female partner to watch. And all of those stereotypes are VERY pervasive in fiction.

Also…if Prince Charming is “everything a girl could want”, and you’re calling the male fantasy counterpart the Damsel in Distress, that’s insulting and demeaning in and of itself. All guys want is the Damsel in Distress? All we wish for is vacuous and needy, but in a pretty package? What are you trying to say, exactly?

The real counterpart of Damsel is the guy who needs the girl to fix him, whether its giving Dumb Jock depth, or Skeevy Geek “cool”, or taming Angry Badboy, or getting beer-drinker off the couch and to the flower shop buying roses for long-suffering wonderful female partner.

I meant to add but forgot….

A more grevious issue is how comparatively few good paragon females have been out there compared to male, not how much more terrible bad female characters are than bad male characters.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 26, 2009 at 5:38 pm

He is this sardonic, cynical guy that is sometimes likeable, sometimes a jerk. Except for the final two episodes, he doesn’t bend over backwards to make Carrie see he is the one. He has major trouble with commitment and can be as neurotic as Carrie.

I’ve seen about two episodes, and in those one’s she was the jerk.

But to aspire to be more like Prince Charming (handsome, witty, courageous, capable, determined yet sensitive, etc.) doesn’t sound particularly demeaning to me. Actually, these traits sound like good stuff, no matter what your gender is.

Yes, but it’s what ‘women want’ in a man, not a realistic portrayal of one – and it could be argued that there’s nothing wrong with looking sexy in a bikini and being there for the man who just saved the world!

I’m confused by all the accusations of “misogyny.” Misogyny is a hatred of women. Hypersexualizing female characters has nothing to do with hatred; in fact, it demonstrates a sincere appreciation for certain (admittedly superficial) female characteristics. Is that sexist? Probably. Misogynistic? Definitely not.

I never said most men want a Damsel-in-Distress. I was saying how females are typically portrayed in fiction geared toward males versus how males are typically portrayed in fiction geared toward females. Both are distortions, both are unrealistic, but I think the woman’s role in “boy” fiction has been a lot more demeaning than vice-versa. Maybe not so much nowadays as compared to past decades, though.

In a nutshell, men get to be heroes in boy’s fiction, and in girl’s fiction the central males also have certain heroic attributes. So it seems like male protagonists always get to be somewhat heroic, no matter what the audience.

And yeah, lots of bad stereotyping of males you have mentioned, dumb jock, skeevy geek, angry badboy. But those are almost always the supporting characters, and there are always “good” males in the story in more central roles. While the harmful stereotypes of females usually are the central female role in the story.

We’ll have to just respectfully disagree on whether males are demeaned by stereotypes. I do feel compelled, though, to say at the last that “but you should *want* to be this”, if reversed, would be considered horribly condescending and mysoginistic. “Why shouldn’t you want to be incredibly althletic and feminine and well-manered, desired so much that males will fight against all odds?” Just because feminine wish-fulfillment can be more cerebral over physical doesn’t make it good while masculine wish-fulfillment is bad.

That said though, like I said above I will agree that there are far fewer good examples for females to look to than males in fiction, and that is where a true harmful disparity lies. Guys can happily ignore female wish-fulfillment to find an example of a male character for them to enjoy and the grand majority of fiction is still open, while the same cannot be said the other way around.

Okay.

By the way, I’m not a woman. I’m a gay male.

And I usually hate romantic comedies and chick flicks. They’re boring, trite, and predictable. Though not as boring as action movies.

Heh, well, it doesn’t really change my argument any since I I tend to go ahead and assume all presences on the intarwebs are male, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. Safer that way. Though I’ll prolly go ahead and give Kelly here the benefit of the doubt. ;-)

Still….all this over Psylocke #1 and the cover to #2….

I think you’re missing the broader issue. It’s not just about ‘Psylocke #1 and the cover to #2′, this is about all comics like this. This is the straw that broke the camels back if it were – the author of this article is becoming exasperated because these days publishers have a real chance to step away from the female comic stereotypes and really write some amazing stories that male and female readers want to see but yet again they haven’t.

[...] She Has No Head! – Psylocke: This Is Not The Ninja You’re Looking For… | Comics Should Be Good… – Makes me glad I gave this one a pass. I was a Psylocke fan from way back … and between putting her through eleventy-dozen backstory meat grinders, and now stripping her down (so to speak) of even a bit of ethnic uniqueness … yeesh. [...]

The discussion is, indeed, about the broader issue. But that doesn’t make it any less ironic that it was the first issue and a cover to a sub-par Psylocke series that set off this rather involved and really interesting discussion.

Classic Kel…nice dissection. It hurts so bad that all these lessons we learn in school are wasted away by professional hacks. Do they not teach about clarity and anatomy in the Bull Pin? I hart Psylocke, and joined in around Uncanny X-Men 213 and Alan Davis’s appropriate introduction to the character. I grant you though Lee’s costume change was an improvement even though utterly ridicules (and more so as I to get older). Reading your run down on what she has been through made my head hurt…actually this would occur with most Marvel characters at the point. Whatever happened to making characters that were more metaphorically complex, not actually confusing. It has increasingly been harder to make mine marvel when DC uses Darwyn Cooke and Marvel is stuck with…well.

whats even worse is that Claremont wanted to turn her Asian and it was Nicieza that came up with Kwannon connection. Jim Lee was obviously pushing for a redesign hence they forcibly came up with this solution.

And before he Kwannon connection became history, she was essentially had non-consexual sex/r was aped in the first Uncanny issue being under mind control.

And whats worse is the errors in the first issue . You’d think a complete moron wouldn’t know the difference between the People’s Liberation Army of China and Japanese Self Defense Force. Its amazing that someone like Chris Yost could write such a horrible book to begin with. The author of Red Robin and the initial 6 issues of X-Force to boot!

I’ve really enjoyed reading your article, & the comments! I’ve been thinking about all these things lately as I pass a comic & gaming store on my way home from work. How silly the big 2 are! What money-hungry machines!
Anyway, awesome original review, & awesome comments!

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