Comic books tackle a vast array of subjects. They are modern-day mythologies reflecting ourselves back at us through morality tales wrapped up in form-fitting Underoos. They present the trials and tribulations of human existence via beautifully rendered art and cleverly arranged words. As is too often the case, the male protagonists of these fantastical worlds receive the most coverage, either via news outlets or the Hollywood-movie-machine, with little more than a passing shout-out to their female counterparts. Fortunately both ladies and gents are speaking up about this inequality of species-attention, and the other half of our sacred medium’s occupancy is finally (albeit slowly) getting their due. Here is a list of 10 female superheroes you should have a running knowledge of as in-depth as any who rocks a Y-chromosome…
She is the daughter of Zatara, a powerful magician in his own right who sadly met his untimely demise in Alan Moore’s seminal Swamp Thing run, leaving the sorceress to take up the family-mantle in his stead. She’s had an interesting history with the occultist (and infamous conman) John Constantine – a courtship her father did not approve of. She has fought alongside varying members of the JLA and been a mentor and guardian to Timothy Hunter, a kid whose future holds unmet greatness. She is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the DC Universe, closely matching the abilities and prowess of her male counterpart from a budding universe – Stephen Strange.
Age of Ultron barely skimmed the surface of her abilities. She is arguably one of the most dangerous beings in the universe. Unstable, and a bit unhinged (to put it mildly), she is responsible for bringing her fellow mutants to the brink of extinction with the soft, seemingly inconsequential whisper of just three words: no more mutants. With one breath, she eradicated the X-gene from 90% of her brethren, bringing the worldwide population from millions, to just a few hundred; the effects of which continue to reverberate throughout the 616-Universe even today.
Katherine Pryde (also known as Shadowcat), has undergone one of the best evolutions in both the soon-to-be-ending Ultimate Universe, as well as the 616-Universe. We’ve seen her grow from a young, inexperienced X-Man into not only one of their most celebrated leaders, but also a professor over at the newly-formed Charles Xavier School for Mutants (in the aftermath of Charles’ death at the hands of Scott Summers). And if that news wasn’t enough to knock the chones off of you non-reader types, she’s also engaged to Star-Lord……yes, THAT STAR-LORD.
One of the founding members of the original X-Men, she has been quite the infamous figure within the Marvel Universe over the years. Feared and hated by beings not just on Earth but off as well, her name is synonymous with destruction; primarily due to her penchant for bonding with the Phoenix Force (a universal being of immeasurable power) and decimating entire worlds with the ease of a breath. Her younger self (along with the rest of the original X-Men) is currently displaced out of her own time and marooned in the present. It has yet to be seen how this anomaly will affect the space-time continuum, but one thing is certain: it’s damn-good to have her back.
She’s been an integral part of the Marvel Universe since her first appearance in the ’60s. She’s undergone various looks over the years – some more risqué than others – but wasn’t a major player until the last decade or so. She’s finally found her groove, so to speak, in the masterful hands of writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. Shedding her previous persona as Ms. Marvel, she’s assumed the mantle of Captain Marvel and is even rocking an aesthetically cooler and much more practical suit as she brings new meaning to the phrase “female bad-ass.” Read up on this here gal, kids, before she makes her feature film debut in 2018 and demonstrates for the mainstream audience why she’s been a fan-favorite of us longtime readers.
She’s what I prefer to call an anti-heroine. I say this because her character has always been a bit complex, for lack of a more succinct description. She rides a fine line between heroine and villain, swaying backwards and forwards without ever fully committing to either side. And she’s one helluva fighter, having taken on the likes of major leaguers like Wolverine; and spanked every one of them like naughty little children.
She currently runs the new Charles Xavier School for Mutants, having surrendered to the better angels of her nature. The newly acclimated maestra has her work wholly cut out for her too. She’s taken on the task of teaching the time-displaced younger Jean Grey how to fully master her newly-forming abilities; abilities her older, diseased-self hadn’t acquired until years down the road. In a way, Emma’s also doing her best to atone for past conflicts she had with Jean’s older self, possibly hoping to do right by her pupil and assist in shaping this version into the better Jean.
What can be said about this warrior-princess other than she’s the gold standard for female protagonists in Comicdom. Powerful, loyal, and able to go toe-to-toe with Krypton’s last son, she’s been with the JLA since the beginning. She’s only had one live-action interpretation on television….but oh what an adaption it was. Like Chris Reeve’s Superman, Linda Carter will forever be the Wonder Woman for most of us 30-somethings. I like Gal Gadot, though; but damn-it-Jim if she doesn’t have giant Themysciran boots to fill.
Weather-witch, mutant, Wakandan queen….she’s worn many hats in her life, all of which have played important roles in her evolution as a character. She may not be a founding-member of the X-Men, but she’s been with them long enough to be considered one. Intelligent, powerful, beautiful, and formidable, she’s aided her fellow mutants and superhero community in defending the planet many times over. This is probably why Wakandan’s king fell in love with her and asked her to be his wife. T’Challa was raised to be no fool.
Another longtime member of the Merry Mutant club, and lover of the Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit, she’s been a mainstay of the team for decades. Her ability to absorb any power and utilize said gift makes her one of the most significant members of the Homo superior demographic. Did I mention she’s also nearly indestructible? She and Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) had a skirmish when Rogue was younger – and by “skirmish” I mean a gloves-off, knock-down, last-woman-standing brawl. As a result, Rogue permanently absorbed Carol’s abilities, giving her super-human strength, near-invulnerability, and flight.
So there you have it, true believers, ten of the most significant ladies in comic books. Contrary to what studio executives may want you to believe, for every great male superhero in comics, there is an equally great female superhero. Someday, there won’t even be a need to stress this and the importance of their inclusion. Imagine that?
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If retaining an inordinate amount of pop culture knowledge was a sport, I’d be a Michael Phelps-level Olympiad. I’m a lover of film, comics, and writing. Serf by day; scribbler by night. Although, I am merely a Padawan-learner in the art of rhetoric; but like all beginners, I strive to possess and wield a proverbial pen capable of dueling with the mightiest of swords!
Eric is part of Purecostumes.com Digital Ideation team.
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