Pistil: a hero for the victims who go ignored

Alison Hernandez

The comic ‘Pistil’ was written by Jessica Maison and illustrated by Loni Watson and the premise it presents is already looking to be an interesting one.

Trigger warnings for mentions of murder, drug use, rape and suicide.

The story ‘Pistil’ presents is that of Lita Soledad, a woman, who was forced into sex work by a cartel, turned vigilante superhero who defends other victims of crimes like sexual assault.

Written from Lita’s perspective, Maison was able to create a character representing the voices of many survivors of sexual assault.

Through Lita, Maison is able to express directly to the reader some of the thoughts and feelings someone who was a victim of a sex crime might have.

The story begins when Lita was 14 years old. Her mother was murdered by a cartel who forced her into sex work.

After years of abuse, Lita managed to escape and fled to the U.S.

Lita’s mother was a curandera in Mexico who helped people and told Lita the stories of her ancestors, Las Adelitas.

Her mother taught her everything she knew about plants like “how the pistil, like a woman, may seem delicate, but that it had great power hidden within, it brought forth life.”

The comic provides an explanation of triggers, giving examples through Lita and her memories as a sex worker.

In the story, Lita hears a phrase that literally triggers bad memories from her time in the brothel in Mexico.

She directly tells the reader that triggers are everywhere for victims and examples of what they can be such as an image, phrase or smell.

Lita also expressed the backlash survivors often face after coming out such as harassment and public shaming.

The comic also explores the haunting reality that no one is ever truly safe from the crime known as sexual assault.

Maison uses this effectively through the use of the secondary character, Mira.

In the comic, Mira is your average 8th grader who’s bad at basketball, has an annoying younger brother and an overprotective father.

While her father wants her to focus on her education, Mira longs for the freedom to have the “typical” teenage life with romance and fun.

Mira would then encounter Pistil for the first time right before her innocence was ripped away from her.

The art of Pistil uses a mix of traditional and digital art.

Watson, also uses incorporates a lot of traditional Mexican imagery to emphasize and embrace Lita’s Mexican roots.

In the sections where Lita reminisces about the past, the pages use gray-scale with pops of bright colors to heighten the importance of these prior events.

When the story is back in the present the pages use monotone colors which helps with the continuation of the plot.

Pistil is a classic vigilante story of redemption modernized with present day situations such as sexual assault.

‘Pistil also strays away from using a white male as the crime-fighting hero of the story.

Maison fleshed out a heroine of color that relies on her Hispanic culture and her past to protect others.

Lita’s inner battle with her trauma and her way of coping motivates her to become fearless and strong.

Maison has done an excellent job introducing the characters and the world of ‘Pistil’ in a way that stands out from other superheroes.

Although ‘Pistil’ was just introduced, both the comic and its superhero has the potential to promote change and support to those that were sexually abused.

This is definitely a series to keep an eye on.