The Cover for Heroes for Hire #13. DO NOT WANT. [Bonus, open challenge to the defenders of this cover art]

I am a male. I read comics.  If this cover of powerful female comic book figures tied up, helpless, suits zipped down to expose the maximum flesh without revealing a nipple is designed for the arousal of the male reader, then I’m going to be blunt

You fail. It is not arousing. I do not want. I am not excited or titillated by the prospect of this cover. Further, I’d be embarassed to walk out of a comic store with this in my hand. One glance from the average punter, and I’m some freakshow.  Ordinary punters thought the Mary Jane statue was bad. What the hell are they going to make of this?  It’s reinforcing the stereotype of comic book readers as strange individuals who lack social skills, haven’t met a real female in their lives, and have immense forearm stamina.
Thanks Marvel. Way to help show comic books aren’t just for kids, they’re for perverts.

Thank god this is a Max title, and won’t make it to a really broad audience.
The Story: The Heroes for Hire find themselves in the middle of World War Hulk when their mission to Hulk’s stoneship leaves them on the Warbound’s death list! It’s divide-and-conquer as each hero is hunted by a member of the Jade Giant’s band of alien soldiers.

32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99


    Appropriate for readers of all ages.
  • T+
    9+ years old Appropriate for most readers, parents are advised they may want to read before or with younger children.

OH SHIT.  What where you thinking?  Wait. I remember, Marvel isn’t misogynistic! The chief editor of Marvel has a daughter.  I bet he’ll sit there and read this comic with his daughter. That’ll make it all fine.

Breaking out the details
This is my personal shortlist of issues I have with the cover.
  • The cover is sexualised violence. The women have bared breasts without the shot of an unclothed nipple. Shaded nipples are acceptable. So are erect nipples through the cloth of their costumes. Sure, defeated, semi conscious, captured by aliens, but sexually aroused by the moment. They may be about to suffer painful torture, but they’ve got hard nipples about it. (No, I ain’t screen capping that. It’s creepy, and it’s a demonstration that the artist painted the costumes over a naked female form.  I suspect porn tracing)  Could you imagine a cover with Spiderman and Wolverine and Cyclops strung up, each sporting obvious erections about what will happen next? (Yo! Alex Ross! Buddy, do it.  It’ll be worth the lolz)
  • The hands are also important here – the female characters are in signs of defeat and submission, and the one set of male hands are in active resisting poses (I’m assuming that’s Shang-Chi from what I’ve read around the place)
  • Male handsFemale hands
  • It’s freaking Bratz Porn. The eyes that set it off.
Bratz Porn
  • Finally, remember, even if you’ve been fighting your way through an alien strong hold, lip gloss is important.
  • Faces of Defeat

So, I want to make this clear.  This is a cover that has women portrayed at passive sexualised objects in the name of selling comics.

It is sexist.

It is reinforcing the misogynist view point that women are to portrayed as passive sexual objects to be acted upon by men, in this case, the male viewer of the comic.
It is offensive to consider this cover art for a series that is considered suitable to be read with children as young as nine, or read by children as young as nine.

If you want to persuade me that this cover isn’t sexist, because men are drawn in similar poses, then I’m up for the challenge. If you can find me a cover with up to three men, all drawn in passive poses, with demonstrable hardness of the nipples or penis, sad faces, and the female hero (for what little of her is seen) being active, you can tell me that this cover isn’t sexist because stuff happens to guys as well.  Especially on the cover of T+ rate comics.
Checklist for you

  • Up to three males. I’m not even looking for parity of numbers (there are four women on the cover of Heroes for Hire).
  • Some obvious arousal at their situation (erection of nipples or penis is fine). If this is missing, then no dice.  Harden those man parts up or go home.
  • Some costume change/ removal of costume. Preference is for removed pants/trousers, will settle for opened shirts (even though that’s not the same level of sexualised posing. Pecs != Breasts for sexual connotation otherwise men would own bikini tops). There has to be some evidence of interference with the uniforms of the men.  I’ll accept torn (bonus for tears with bleeding cuts under them), cut, removed or opened (Nightwing’s chest to ceiling mid 80s open V won’t count unless it’s been obvious interfered with by a third party. I’m looking for parity with the white jump suit, not Black Cat’s costume)
  • Passive/defeated demeanor. No struggling resistance against the bonds.  They need to be defeated AND enjoying it.
  • BONUS POINTS: An active female hero presence, doing something active about the dramatic situation that the men have accepted.

Prove me wrong with evidence.  I’m not even asking for a one to one swap on most points.
Show me that the Heroes for Hire #13 cover is simply a gender reversal of existing cover art. Show me that there’s no sexism, because this has happened to men before.

14 Responses to “The Cover for Heroes for Hire #13. DO NOT WANT. [Bonus, open challenge to the defenders of this cover art]”

  1. Betty says:

    I do doubt it’s porn tracing. For one, real women don’t have those proportions, so it’d be difficult to find the porn to trace. I think Takeda’s art tends to suggest movement, too, in a way that tends not to come across in tracings. She’s a far better artist than Land.

  2. john says:

    You see that they’re enjoying it and are “sexually aroused” because of hard nipples. I see distress on the character’s faces. Erect nipples don’t have to indicate sexual arousal, they can also indicate a cold climate. Off to find your covers, now.

  3. john says: – and women charge to the rescue

    Three to start – Time for work now.

    BTW, showing covers with men bound men on them in no way makes the Heroes For Hire cover more or less of what it is. But this is still a fun game to play.

  4. Jen says:

    I agree on EVERY point, except on the bit about erect nipples meaning arousal. Sometimes it’s cold. Sometimes they just go erect for no reason. (Believe me, I know…) Sometimes it IS because you’re aroused.

    Keep up the fantistic work, though. I love this blog.

  5. arielladrake says:


    It says something that you have to go back to late-60s to early 70s comics to find something vaguely comparable. Of course, it still doesn’t actually fit. The first cover you linked still has the chained male heroes looking like they’re actively pulling on their bonds.

    On the nipple thing, whilst yes, hard nipples also relate to cold, to pretend that cold climate (despite the lack of indicators that it’s actually cold where they are), and the tendency of nipples to randomly harden in real life (yeah, I know that too) counters the notion that, in comics-like art, hardened nipples are coded as arousal is rather absurd.

    Plus, y’know. I’m glad it’s a game to you. But seriously, if you’re going to play the game, don’t fool yourself that it doesn’t make you look like you’re defending the cover.

  6. Stephen Dann says:


    Cover #1 (vol1_cover_054.jpg) – Fully clothed. Cover is eliminated.
    Cover #2 (vol1_cover_119.jpg) – Full costumes. Cover is eliminated.
    Cover #3 (vol1_cover_187.JPG) – Full costumes. Cover is eliminated.

    Thanks for trying, but the stated condition “Some costume change/ removal of costume” was not met by these covers. If anything, these covers are wonderful cases of WHY the H4H#13 is a problematic cover. Previous captured and in peril covers demonstrate clothed heroes.

    I do appreciate the effort, but, you can’t win the prize on effort alone. You need to meet the criteria set out in the challenge.

  7. Stephen Dann says:

    I’m open to alternate opinions on that – the main thing I noticed was the bondage style art, with the character on the side view, just looked so much like she was naked, and just had the costume coloured onto her. Which triggered the thought process of “Where would you get reference art for this? Oh wait…”. I’m being harsh on calling porn trace, but I do feel that part of this cover looks like it came out of an issue of Bondage Weekly or equivalent.

    I’m happy to be wrong. I want to be wrong here. I just can’t shift the reference art thought.

    @john – you missed the bit where I point to the faces as defeated and in submission. it’s a contrast between the only part of the male we see is a flexed arm, and the whole female faces are defeated, unconscious or sad.

    @jen – nipples are set to random. I just find that in the context of the situation, the entire squad having erect nipples under their costumes, the costumes peeled down to the navel, and the whole set up just strikes me that the artist wasn’t attempting to portray a cold place with random nipple hardening.

    @arielladrake – hey, I did invite people over to DS to defend the cover with evidence. Good or bad aside, there is an open challenge going here, and anyone fronting to the match is welcome to deliver the evidence unscathed. [Messenger killing is only permitted in the PvP threads]


  8. arielladrake says:

    Well yes, but the key point is ‘defend the cover with evidence’ as part of the invitation. If someone’s just playing and comes back with ‘well, I’m not defending the cover but’, I’m going to be skeptical. Of their reading comprehension, if nothing else.

  9. Stephen Dann says:


    True. But as the only contestant thus far… sure, not a well constructed entry, but still the first entry in the challenge. (You can beat up any clueless non entrants. I’ll even offer a bounty)

  10. [...] Designated Sidekick has a breakdown of the sexism in the recently released Heroes for Hire #13 cover, while Lea Hernandez addresses the tentacle rape and pearl necklace in her Open Letter to Joe Quesada. Roar of Comics addresses it all in “Why the Cover for Heroes for Hire #13 is Wrong.” [...]

  11. Maggie says:

    It’s definitely not a porn tracing. Porn tracings would be a little more realistic. First thing that jumped out at me, before I even noticed the chains, was those goddamn huge breasts on the middle girl. Being one myself, I’m pretty sure girls tend to have nipples around… say… the approximate MIDDLE of their breasts? The way her costume is squeezing them together and the placement of the nipples that far to the side is pretty incongruous. I think it might be just, just physically possible WITH severe discomfort IF you have big enough breasts, but you ain’t getting that on a naked chick, that’s for sure.

    Also I think she’s dislocated a shoulder there.

  12. [...] …and Designated Sidekick, after stating clearly for the sake of the comics industry that this cover fails to be arousing, adds a challenge to those who think men are portrayed just as poorly: If you want to persuade me that this cover isn’t sexist, because men are drawn in similar poses, then I’m up for the challenge. If you can find me a cover with up to three men, all drawn in passive poses, with demonstrable hardness of the nipples or penis, sad faces, and the female hero (for what little of her is seen) being active, you can tell me that this cover isn’t sexist because stuff happens to guys as well. Especially on the cover of T+ rate comics. [...]

  13. Michelle says:

    Good grief. That’s hentai. You wouldn’t get something that bad in Japanese shounen manga, which is the equivalent to this book’s age rating. Forget trying to find reverse-gender equivalents – it doesn’t exist. That’s pure misogynistic porn.

  14. Bunny says:

    Actually, as a girl with outsized boobs, I’m afraid to say that sideways nipple isn’t all THAT odd…

    Maybe it isn’t common for all women, but my nipples poke out like I’ve got the opposite of a squint on my chest. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been wearing larger-size bras since I was 13 (D cup at 13, latest count at 23 as still growing- FF) I’ve always had to sort of fold my boobs into bras…

    But yeah, odd nipples aside, that is definitely hentai porn- there’s whole pornsites dedicated to images like that…

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