Oct 152008

This is the Choice, my favorite character from City of Heroes. She’s drawn by Dualmask who has many talents but fight scenes and great looking black women are what caught my eye. He graciously drew this for me before putting his commissions on hiatus to pursue his own projects. Here Choice is fighting local crime at the start of her career when she wore spandex. Not the best option for clothing when fighting thugs. There is something ironic to me that Choice is experiencing a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction.

Obligatory character biography information-

Jalle Brown came from a poor neighborhood and from a terrible family. She watched her older siblings fall into the traps that a bad neighborhood offered, from going into crime to getting knocked up and married. Jalle decided that she was going to be the only one to decide her own fate.

Meanwhile, in the Spring of 2002, so many choices were being taken away from people. The freedom for gays to marry, the freedom to control your own body and the freedom to vote was all under attack by a corrupt government and a shell shocked population. Jalle realized that the entire country that she loved was being denied the ability to choose their destinies.

So after training in the Martial Arts and attaining complete mastery of her body, she donned a mask and put on some spandex. She fought crime and championed human rights as the Choice.

Now let me tell you something, playing a black female civil rights superhero in an online game was an eye opener. Racial discrimination from other players was a strange thing to run into in a game where we fight Nazis. Even though I was playing one of the most powerful classes, a lot of male players resented having a female doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. People were also offended by even the name of Choice, often asking me if I was some sort of abortion champion.

What I found interesting was that I listed my character’s history in her bio but I never talked in game about her beliefs. 99% of the time I was just kicking bad guys, and the other 1% I was helping newbies out, but I would get these angry messages from assholes that were offended that the character existed. That only encouraged me to keep playing her.

The flipside was that I also received messages from players who were inspired by her. I got a lot of compliments from black players who were happy to see a black hero that was not a disco throwback with a giant afro. I think it was important for them to see a black hero someone was taking seriously. That has informed my writing on a lot of levels.

Thankfully after the 2004 elections the racism and sexism died down. I kept playing City of Heroes till my divorce and I loved every minute of it. Choice is one of my favorite characters that I have ever made and perhaps one of the ones that I am most proud of.

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