I’m sure you knew that March is National Women’s History Month, so I asked women who their favorite female superhero were and what they meant to them. – Tim
Bridget: I have a lot of favorites. My first favorite was Jubilee and I still have a massive soft spot for her. She’s so relatable, and fun, and had awesome clothes and a smart mouth and had an impulsive streak that was all too familiar. She was the perfect intro to X-Men for me when I was ten. I wanted to be her. I still want to be her. I still think shooting fireworks out of my hands would be amazing. Also I love her friendship with Laura Kinney.
I think she shares a lot of aspects with Kamala Khan, actually. But unfortunately has been subjected to some terrible writing at the hands of people who don’t care about her development all that much (that stupid vampire crap). Also dudes hate her for stupid reasons, which only makes me love her more.
Heather: Mine would probably be Leetah from ElfQuest. She’s a Healer, one of the best, in fact. She’s a beautiful woman who has the strength of will to stand up for herself and what always drew me to her was the fact that she could place her hands on someone and make all their hurts go away. She could heal. She wasn’t a physician. She did what she did out of a pure instinct to make the lives around her better, to take away their pain and soothe their souls.
To be honest, ALL the female characters of ElfQuest, with “magic” and without, have resonated with me in one form or another. Ember’s determination to find her own path; Moonshade’s recent realization that what she wants isn’t what her lifemate wants, anymore, and that whatever grief her choice might bring, she must be true to herself; Timmain’s constant search for knowledge; Nightfall’s intense desire for motherhood. But I think, ultimately, I always circle back to Leetah, and her healer’s hands that I wish I had.
Wendy: Katchoo (from Strangers in Paradise). What do you mean she’s not a superhero? She’s bi and (apparently) poly, and that representation is hard to come by. She’s gorgeous and funny and a total badass with a terrifying mysterious past… and as far as I know, her love for Francine (who I grudgingly identified with more) is undying, and as a bi girl who never had much luck with the ladies, she was always a sign that maybe there was hope yet.
Tikvah: Didi (Death) from Sandman. She was my first real introduction into the world of comics. Before that, I had sort of skimmed through the superheros, both male and female, but didn’t feel any real draw or connection to any of them. But I was hooked from the first time I laid eyes on Death. Sure, she had the dark, brooding gothic look that I was drawn to at that point in my life. But it was so much more than that. She was incredibly well written, her sass resonated with me and the more I learned about her, the more she connected with me in other ways.
I was verging on young adulthood when along came a different version of death than what I had ever seen before. She finally gave a face and personality to something I’ve confronted pretty much my entire life. (I was a fairly sickly child with a life threatening health condition.)
One thing you learn pretty quickly with something that like that is how to embrace your mortality. How to face the possibility that you may not be long for this world and how to ultimately make peace with it.
While I definitely enjoyed her story line in The High Cost of Living, it was really The Sound of Her Wings that sealed the deal on my connection to Didi. She (Death) is something different to everyone. A whisper to one person and a sonic blast to another. A stranger you never see or a familiar friend (or foe) that is never far away. No matter what, one thing remains the same. Death is inevitable.
Teresa: Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. I remember seeing her on tv when I was about three or four years old and just thinking she was the PERFECT woman. She was beautiful, glamorous (those bracelets, though), and she beat up bad guys!! Even as a kid I was disappointed she didn’t actually get into fistfights like male heroes did, but I tried not to mind. To this day I love both Wonder Woman and Lynda Carter with the heart of a small child.
Christine: Jean Gray from X-Men. She is brilliant, talented and an equal on the team. She can also switch sides if necessary for the greater good to accomplish her goals.
Somer: I’ve said it before, Phoenix will always be my favorite comic lady….mainly because, as a much younger me, she helped me sort of metabolize the concept of mental illness while someone I loved was going through bipolar manic episodes.
I specifically like Dark Phoenix though, because she’s basically everything men fear in uncontrolled female sexuality. She’s irresistible, she’s irrational (meaning the rules are ignored) and powerful, she’s happy to be that way, and she consumes indiscriminately.
Orion: Okay. I have a lot of favorites, but Xavin from Runaways is really… iconic to me. She’s a Skrull, she can look like anybody, or anything she wants, but as she grows out of her upbringing and becomes more connected to Earth, she assumes a human woman’s shape more and more and identifies with that to the point it becomes the shape she takes by default when she’s stressed or vulnerable.
Her coming to terms with gender roles and her own identity and how they intersect with the world around her is complex and messy and lovely. She’s arguably the most powerful member of her team (you could also make the argument for Nico), but her seminal moment isn’t about powers, it’s about empathy.
Jasmine: I’ve only just recently got into comic books. I like Saga. Alana is my favorite character, in part because I aspire to be her.
Catherine: Storm was my first – my entree into comics was when a friend lent me the Dark Phoenix Saga. She was so unashamed of her strength, and wasted no time trying to fit herself into some random mold.
But darn, these days the only mainstream comic I follow is Ms. Marvel, and for all fondness for Storm, it’s been a while. Hm. I’m awfully fond of Strong Female Protagonist, yes, let’s got with Lisa, aka (or is that fka?) Paladin. Because she’s a geek who used to read fantasy books about girls with swords who grew up to build robots, and is committed enough to her research that yeah, she’s probably going to not think through all of the long term consequences, not because she’s stupid, but because she’s so focused on particular outcomes.
Ivy: This is a hard question, because it can depend so much on who’s writing the character. Kamala Khan has so far (mostly) been in the hands of a single creative team with a well-defined vision, so she’s an easy choice. But someone like Wonder Woman has such a complex history that you have to focus in on some narrow slice that works for you, like the TV show with Lynda Carter. Sometimes you just love the idea of a character so
much that you keep loving her despite some awful portrayals (see Jubilee and Supergirl above) and waiting for a writer to come along who ‘gets’ her. Wonder Woman is like that for me. So is Storm. That isn’t unique to female characters, but it can be harder because there are fewer of them to choose from and there seems to be a lot of temptation to sex them up or blunt the edges of what makes them unique.
That said, I would pick She-Hulk at her best (Dan Slott’s run and the recent series from Charles Soule). Shulkie is incredibly strong and loyal, but also very intelligent and great at her job of being a lawyer. She doesn’t rely first on violence, but she’s happy to throw down. She enjoys being Shulkie (most of the time) and has a wicked sense of humor. She has a full life and friends – her interactions with Hellcat are particularly fun. And her identity struggles, where she wonder why she should ever be just Jennifer Walters, make her very relatable. Unfortunately, some authors dumb her down to make her more ‘savage’, make her ‘stuck’ as She-Hulk or as Jennifer, or sex her up, and that’s so disappointing. She works best when she’s complex and confident. The big runner-up character is Stephanie Brown (Spoiler, Robin, Batgirl), who is also a very complex character when allowed to shine. The poor ladies of the Bat Family don’t fare well in the long run, though… sigh.
Korra Q: Growing up with the Justice League cartoon, Hawkgirl was always my favorite. She was guided by her strategies and heart, but one of the fiercest warriors. She didn’t like being a tool of men, but her heart ruled her actions. She learned the most when she lost the trust of the JL and re-examined her life. It spoke to me in a number of ways, and reflected some of my personal journeys.
More recently, Vixen has become a favorite. She’s gung-ho, independent, and wickedly witty. She’s not afraid to get what she wants, and feels the agony of family vs personal choices. Wilson wrote her quite well, and for a “finding yourself” journey to be written about a WOC in the superhero world is unfortunately seminal in the comics world.