News last week of my beloved Rogue being left on the cutting room floor for the forthcoming X-Men Days of Future Past film had me all mopey and thinking about why certain characters mean so much to me, and who manages to hang on, despite all odds. It was time for a list!
[As a sidebar, I didn’t have time this year to do my annual holiday gift list, but I’ve included links to all of these characters’ best or recent work that I mention so that if you’re shopping super late this year, this could help you out.] And fair warning, before we begin, if a character was repeated on the list and I didn’t have a ton of new thoughts on her I cribbed heavily from my 2010 post, but I gave myself permission, so don’t worry.
As mentioned, back in 2010 I did a 20 Favorite Fiction Females post, and now, after a truly exciting year for female characters in comics, and with a promising 2014 ahead of us, I thought it might be time to revisit the list. See who still makes the cut and who fell clean off. I did a post in early 2013 about 10 characters that were making a run for the title, and some of those ladies did indeed make the jump, and deservedly so.
What I found most interesting as I pulled the list together this time was how some characters managed to triumph over lack of material or worse, bad material. Wonder Woman, despite the fact that I can’t read her book, hasn’t fallen at all from favor in my mind – maybe she’s just got so much iconic power that I am helpless in front of it? Similarly, Big Barda hasn’t been around significantly for years, including the year I made the list, but she still easily makes my list (even if she’s fallen a few spots). When I think of Barda there’s just no other character quite like her and as a result she’s all the more precious to me. On the other hand, Batwoman, who had her peak in 2009/2010 under Greg Rucka and J.H. William’s brilliant and groundbreaking Detective Comics has actually plummeted from spot #1 to clean off the list.
It definitely seems that, for me, having a largely untouched run that is lodged fondly in my memory – such as Cass Cain’s Batgirl or Jakita Wagner in Planetary – works to a character’s favor. I guess I do a better job of preserving their memories and thus loving them unequivocally. However in character’s like Batwoman’s case, she went from near perfection, to a book that, while it had its highlights, was far from perfection for me, with inconsistencies in character, writing, and art as well as shifting creative teams, all of which left me unenthusiastic about the character. I have no doubt that she can rebound, but this year, with so many tough competitors she just didn’t make the cut. And that’s all a very long roundabout way to say that the DC ladies took it on the chin pretty hard this year compared to in 2010.
In 2010 DC women DOMINATED the list with an incredible 9 spots – nearly half the list. By comparison Marvel only had 4 spots and their top spot was #4 (Rogue). But because the DCU has largely become a place I can’t enjoy, very few ladies made it out intact, including some classic favorites that it pained me to admit I think of less these days than I’d like to (Oracle!)
In fact, only Wonder Woman and Cass Cain didn’t fall in their placement.
So, who did make the cut?
25. JESSICA JONES (down from #8)
Jessica is damn lucky that Netflix and Marvel have partnered to give her a television show, without that she made such little impact in the last year or so (tragic!) that I nearly forgot she existed. Jessica Jones has limitless potential, though I confess I much prefer her as the darker more adult trending P.I., with a ton of problems from Alias to her superhero persona we have seen of late. That said, there are infinite directions she can go in, and I do love her with Luke Cage. Having baby Dani around all the time feels a bit limiting for the character from how I’ve seen it handled so far, but I’m sure there are ways to use the stress and obligations of family to Jessica’s advantage in character development, rather than something to hold her back. I eagerly await someone figuring that out. Soon please?
Read Jessica Jones: best to just read the phenomenal Alias trades by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos and call it a day, it’s Jessica at her absolute best. You should also do this to prepare yourself for the Jessica Jones Netflix show (so excited). That said, this moment from New Avengers (circa 2011?) with Jessica and Luke Cage is pretty awesome:
24. MICHONNE (down from #4)
I’ve enjoyed Michonne on The Walking Dead television show, the actress (Danai Guria) is a great cast and the writing of her has been pretty solid all around. In the comics I haven’t been enjoying Michonne near as much lately. She hasn’t had much to do for a long time now, and though she’s just naturally a badass, her personal romantic relationships have been a bit awkward and unrewarding. Basically this is an example of me knowing a character has a ton of potential, but being a bit disappointed in how she’s being allowed to show it off. This is not unlike Jessica Jones – in fact both ladies probably owe television for their inclusion on the list this year.
Read Michonne: The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard is the only place to find Michonne, but it’s all you need – there’s now an incredible 118 issues of The Walking Dead and with Michonne’s first appearance in issue #19 she’s in a whole lot of them. If you’re specifically looking for Michonne you should start with Volume 5: Heart’s Desire, which begins with Michonne’s first appearance in the series. You can also of course watch her on The Walking Dead on AMC which returns in February 2014. Even with all these issues, this is still probably my favorite Michonne moment, so simple, so very Michonne:
23. JET (new!)
I like Rachel from Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising a whole lot, but there’s no contest who my favorite character is, it’s the sarcastic and awesome Jet. Gorgeous, guitar playing, joke making Jet. I love her. Terry Moore has been talking recently on twitter with some other folks about the fact that Rachel Rising is struggling. This is a crime as it’s a great, smart, and legitimately scary book that’s also of course beautiful as everything Moore does is gorgeous. So, if you’ve been on the fence, get off it and buy yourself some Rachel Rising.
Read Jet: Read Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising for all sorts of reasons, but Jet is my favorite reason to read. The trades are available – 3 of them and up through issue #18 ( I believe) but you can also pick everything up digitally if you want to get fully current. Need more incentive. Here’s Jet, being Jet (well, sorta):
22. STORM (new)
As I wrote about Storm last March, she’s a character I WANT to like very much, but frequently the writing she gets is pretty stilted. I guess the untouchable perfect goddess thing doesn’t work so much for me. Which is why I’ve always enjoyed the more human (and mohawk wearing) Storm. So I’ve welcomed her return to that as she lost trust in Cyclops and ultimately broke loyalties with him in Brian Wood’s X-Men run. Add to that an Ororo on the heels of a divorce and feeling a bit salty — the mohawk returned, she got a slick costume update, and Brian Wood got another crack at her in his new X-Men volume. There hasn’t been A LOT to see yet of her in the new X-Men, but I like the direction we’re headed in. I remain convinced that Storm is a hidden treasure in Marvel and that she’s one of the only ladies of Marvel that makes sense as a Wonder Woman alternative. I’d love to see Marvel give her that attention and respect – a shot at the title, if you will.
Read Storm: The best place to read Storm lately is in Brian Wood’s X-Men, both the previous volume (two trades) with David Lopez and the new one with Olivier Coipel. You can also find her in Uncanny X-Force, but I don’t recommend it.
21. DEX PARIOS (new – made the jump from on the bubble!)
Greg Rucka writes some of the best women in comics and has for a very long time. Private Eye Dex Parios is one of my favorites. Ballsy and unapologetic, Dex is a wonderful mix of near fatal flaws and mostly untapped genius. A total screw up at life in general and yet a hell of a detective with a good heart and an unflinching moral code (though one that only makes sense to her – the best kind as far as I’m concerned), I simply cant get enough of Dex. Two Stumptown volumes were certainly not enough, so I hope we’ve got more headed our way in the future.
Read Dex: Unfortunately Stumptown is on break between volumes, but don’t let that stop you from picking up the first two collected volumes, which are gorgeous and awesome. Greg Rucka doing what Greg Rucka does best and Matthew Southworth delivering absolutely stunning visuals. As always, I recommend the hardovers on Stumptown, which Oni has made particularly gorgeous – oversized with exceptional matte stock/covers. Need a push? Here’s Dex:
20. ARMOR/HISAKO ICHIKI (new)
One of my favorite new characters in the last ten years, and completely underused. Where is she?!?!? I hold out hope that Brian Wood will be able to bring her into his X-Men, since he’s written her before both in Wolverine & The X-Men: Alpha and Omega and in his run on Ultimate X-Men I suspect a fondness for her. With an incredibly cool power set that also happens to be visually exceptional, she stands out with ease. I love characters small in stature and decidedly unimposing that can deliver a huge punch (literally), and Hisako has that in spades. Armor is one of the those characters you just can’t wait to dig deeper into. She got a ton of attention in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, but since then with a few exceptions it’s been slim pickings. More, more, more, please!
Read Armor: Unfortunately Armor is not in anything right now. The best place to read her is Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, available in trades and as an epic omnibus (I have it, it’s badass). She’s also pretty great in Brian Wood’s Wolverine & The X-Men: Alpha & Omega, which is not my favorite of Wood’s work largely due to the art, but Hisako really gets to shine. She’s also got a few fantastic moments in Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews super off the wall Astonishing X-Men: Xenogeneis. Here’s one of my favorite little bits from Xenogenesis – what a way with words she has:
19. NIMONA (new)
I wrote a whole post about Nimona this past year I love her so much. She’s just so Nimona-y. She’s a shark! She’s a dragon! She’s a sheep so she can use her own wool to knit you a sweater! She’s everything and it’s awesome. Totally without any kind of traditional morals, she’s far more of a “true villain” than Blackheart (who she sidekicks for) but she cares for him (and he for her) in the most tender and realistic of ways. One of the best things about Nimona is the boundless energy, enthusiasm, and optimism she possesses. It makes her villainy contagious and keeps the webcomic from feeling too dark, instead Nimona is REALLY EXCITED ABOUT CRIME. You will be too.
Read Nimona: If you’re not reading Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona webcomic, you are using the Internet incorrectly. Please remedy that immediately. Here’s Nimona being a hilarious badass:
18. MAGIK (new)
Who would have thunk it? I’ve never been a big Magik fan, or didn’t know I should be, but the work that Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, and Frazer Iriving have done with her in Uncanny X-Men is awesome. Magik is such an interesting character, kind of funny and mean at once, reserved in how much she connects to others (understandably given her nightmarish life) but also boldly unafraid to say whatever she thinks. She’s an odd fit with Cyclops’s team, but it works wonderfully, and not just because her teleportation powers are incredibly useful/convenient. I also happen to love what Bachalo is doing with her soulsword – letting it change shape/size/and even design a bit, giving it a life of its own. I wrote recently about how much I’d love to see a Emma Frost/Magik book team up. I’ve decided to ask Santa for that book this year. C’mon Santa, make a believer out of me.
Read Magik: The best place to read current Magik is in the new Uncanny X-Men book (currently on issue 15). There are a few trades out, but I’d also recommend picking up the latest incredibly fun issue (if you like fun that is) – Uncanny X-Men #15…er, make that #15.INH (sigh!) which is mostly shopping and hilarity and has Kris Anka killing it on the interiors – good god the clothes and hair! Here’s a taste of Emma and Magik, being, well, magic:
17. BIG BARDA (down from #7)
Cribbed in part from my 2010 post, cause nothing changes when it comes to my love of Barda: I’ve always been a sucker for the whole stranger in a strange land thing, and nobody embodies it better (in the right writer’s hands) than Barda and her hilarious assimilation to modern Earth culture. I’m also a sucker for a truly devoted couple in love, and Barda and Scott Free are one of the best in comics. Someone somewhere on the internet (I’m sorry I don’t know who or where you are?) said that one of the things that makes Big Barda easier to love than Wonder Woman, is that her relationship with Free has always grounded her and humanized her in a way that Diana usually feels untouchable. Now, I don’t necessarily agree that Barda is ‘easier to love’ than Diana but I can absolutely see the truth in that statement. I think that HAS been a stumbling block for Diana over the years, and one Barda never had. Regardless, I can’t think of much I’d like more in comics than a Barda/Scott Free book, in the meantime I’ll have to satisfy myself with the old tales and hope for a future DC where there’s room for a great character like Barda.
Read Barda: Actually, you CAN find Barda in the “alt reality/future/whatever” world of Batman Beyond Unlimited – so if you’re desperate for recent Barda, I urge you to seek that out. For the older stuff it’s definitely Birds of Prey but I’m not actually sure what issues/trades you should look for – any readers want to shout out in the comments?
16. PSYLOCKE (new)
Cribbed in part from 2013 post about Psylocke: Between what Rick Remender and Jerome Opena did with the character in the brilliant Uncanny X-Force, her recent costume change courtesy of the uber talented Kris Anka, her appearances in Brian Wood and David Lopez’s X-Men and Brian Wood’s new volume of X-Men I am in love with this character in a way I haven’t been since I was 16 (and blissfully unaware of how she came to be in the first place). I’ve always liked this character even though she’s problematic, but her stories for years have been a nightmare (not to mention her visual portrayals) so it’s exciting to see the character getting such a surge of interest by talented creators and thus a true chance at redemption. I’m excited!.
Read Psylocke: Check out Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run (available in trade). Unfortunately I cannot recommend the current Uncanny X-Force – though it started strong it fell apart very quickly. But Brian Wood’s previous X-Men book with David Lopez has some great Psylocke stuff and Wood’s take on Pyslocke in his new X-Men is excellent, she hasn’t gotten a ton of play yet, but what’s there is great and perfectly on point for what I would hope for in the character – I mean, why on earth did it take so many years for any writers to figure out that it would be amazing to have Psylocke shoot a bow and arrow “psychic knife”? So goddamn cool:
Cribbed: I always loved the fact that Jakita is the muscle on Planetary. And she’s not only the muscle, she’s also the leader (well until Elijah figures out he’s the fourth man), and she’s also got the best sense of humor and most of the best lines. You almost never get that combination in a character, but Jakita just embraces it all and makes it work so flawlessly that you forget it’s kind of unusual to see. Jakita inherited her awesome powers from her father (essentially Tarzan) and her big beautiful brain from her scientist mother that lived in a highly advanced secret city in Africa, though she was raised by a German family and all of that is just the tip of the iceberg of what makes Jakita so interesting. And as if she isn’t fascinating enough already, she can fight Batman to a standstill. So, ‘nuff said.
Read Jakita: Honestly? Don’t fuck around, just get the omnibus that releases in January. SO GONNA BE WORTH THE WAIT. And here’s some of that Jakita fighting Batman to a standstill to whet your whistle while you wait:
14. Monica Rambeau (holding at #14)
There was no choice after finally reading Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., but to add Monica Rambeau to my list of all time favorite ladies. And she hasn’t budged since. It helps that I read the excellent Nextwave on a yearly basis to revel in how exceptional it is. Since Monica is a woman of color it was surprising to get to see her lead the team, since that rarely happens, but I have to say, it was everything I imagined it could be. She’s a fantastic leader, a fantastic teammate, and an all around hilarious badass, even when she’s playing the ‘straight man’ which on Nextwave is of course a whole different thing then playing the straight man anywhere else. Also? Lady wears an all white costume to go superhero-ing in…and that takes balls of steel.
Read Monica: Nextwave, baby, all the way. You can also pick up the Captain Marvel Vol. 2 trade as Monica guest stars in a couple issues. Monica is also in the new Mighty Avengers book, but I’ve been avoiding it due to Greg Land illustrating. That is changing however, so keep your eyes peeled, this is about to become a book worth checking out. Here’s Monica going ultraviolet nova, so cool:
13. CATWOMAN (down from #9)
Cribbed: She’s the only woman good enough for my beloved Bat, which says a lot. Selina’s had a lot of “origins” and to be frank, I’m not a fan of any of them. Some of them are loaded and make people rage-y (Frank Miller I’m looking at you) and some of them are the dullest most cliché origins imaginable and I realized years ago that I’ve just created my own internal origin for Selina – one that fits her actual personality and badass reality. Ever since I realized I have my own internal origin for her I’ve been much happier…take that comics! I love that Selina doesn’t need to define herself as hero or villain, and I suppose anti-hero most clearly describes the character most of us have come to love over the last ten years or so, but I suspect she doesn’t care one way or another and I love that about her. It should also be said that as much as part of me would love for Selina to just give in and fully become a straight “good guy” because maybe she and Bruce could finally move forward and be deliciously happy, I love that she’s unwilling to remake her life to fit into his narrow world view. I can’t imagine how well you have to know yourself and be confident in who you are to resist bending to not only Batman’s will, but Bruce Wayne’s as well. It’s impressive to say the least. I wish all the time that Selina’s book was a book I could love, but I’ve tried time and time again and it’s just not for me. Maybe next time around!
Read Selina: You should absolutely read all the Catwoman Brubaker/Cooke stuff – it’s all wonderful. That said, I’d stick pretty religiously to that stuff as her other series – both the current, and the old 90’s Balent stuff is truly terrible on the whole. Here’s Selina being complex and amazing:
12. SIF (new – jumped from the on the bubble!)
Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti’s unfortunately shortlived Journey Into Mystery starring Sif was off the wall bonkers in all the best of ways. Sif was funny and full of heart, unconventional, and kicking ass at every opportunity. Sif, in Journey Into Mystery was bold and brave, berserk and burly. She was also other adjectives that don’t start with B – like fiercely passionate and unyielding in her commitment. She’s a warrior through and through and it’s a shame this book couldn’t hold out, but I hope Sif will land elsewhere as her usual brilliant self. Girl’s in a movie, yo, you think that would warrant some page time, no?
Read Sif: Your best bet are the two Journey Into Mystery trades which are super fun and also gorgeous. Also worth a look if you can find it, is Kelly Sue DeConnick’s lovely Sif one shot from 2010. Here’s Sif tearing shit up:
11. AGENT 355 (down from #10)
Agent 355 from Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man, oh how I love you! Forever at Yorick’s side, sacrificing herself for the last man on Earth, even when he’s being a moron that deserves a bullet to the brain instead of someone to jump in front of one, 355 showed a strength of character and a restraint that I respected immediately. Despite Yorick’s insane (but sweet) quest to find his girlfriend Beth and Agent 355’s emotionless front, the two characters become inseparable friends and tragically, lovers too late. But ultimately, though the end of the series pains me, it’s hard to regret 355’s holding back of her emotions, as I could only respect her more for waiting until her mission is complete to admit her feelings and act on them. In a world gone mad with everyone reaching greedily for their share (or more than) that kind of fortitude takes a particularly level head and strength of character that I can’t even begin to comprehend.
Read Agent 355: There’s only one place to go, but it’s glorious: Y: The Last Man. Enjoy! And here’s one of my favorite bits:
10. FOREVER CARLYLE (new)
Until the most recent issue of Lazarus (#5) I would have said it was a bit too soon to put Forever on this list, even though she’s been impressing me since issue #1. However, in issue #5 Greg Rucka and Michael Lark managed the kind of subtle, smart character building that poise a character to become one of the great. The scenes in that last issue not only catapulted Forever onto this list, but into the top 10. No small feat. If you read comics and you’re not reading Lazarus you are straight up screwing up. Get your head on right, kid!
Read Forever: The first Lazarus trade is out now, collecting the first arc. Then you can pick up #5 as a single or digitally and you’ll be all caught up. You’ll thank me. Here’s some Forever taking care of business, unsavory though it is. Shades of Jakita, yeah?
09. GWENDOLYN (new)
Two ladies from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga on the list! And not only on the list but in the top 10! And honestly? I’ve got TWO more Saga ladies in the runners up category – tell me this book isn’t hitting it out of the park. One of the best things about Gwendolyn, other than her design – which is simply the best damn thing since sliced bread – is that in a lesser writer’s hands she would be the character we hate. She’s the ex-girlfriend to our two (okay, three) primary heroes and so she’s naturally the odd man out, she’s naturally “the bitch” that we’re supposed to side against. But Vaughan is not a lesser writer. He made her a fully fleshed out badass and gave her great characters to interact with and her own storyline that quickly evolved from something as simple as revenge. And reading her it was impossible not to fall in love. And that, for when she and Alana do finally meet (soon!) will make everything so much more interesting than simply hating her. Well done, sir, well done!
08. EMMA FROST/THE WHITE QUEEN (up from #11)
Emma Frost is a total bitchy badass, and maybe it’s because I wish I could be more that way, but I just love the hell out of her. A lot of writers really seem to “get” Emma’s voice as Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis, Scott Lobdell, Kathryn Immonen and several other significant writers have all nailed her voice over the last dozen years and made her a force in comics to be reckoned with. Under Brian Michael Bendis’s pen I was a bit worried. It took him a while to find the Emma Frost groove, but now that he has, he’s killing it. Writers (and artists) spent YEARS rehabilitating Emma Frost into the character we’ve got today, one I wouldn’t trade for a million Jean Greys. But recent events (post Phoenix possession), which could have been destroyed the character have only made her more complex, more challenging, revitalizing her yet again. I still miss her in white and hope we’ll eventually return to it as the “baseline Emma,” but what has been happening with her in Uncanny X-Men has been truly interesting. It’s an exciting time to be an Emma Frost fan.
Read Emma: Best bet these days is Uncanny X-Men, but also worth your time if you like the character is Generation X, Morrison’s New X-Men, Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, and Ellis’s X-Men: Xenogenesis. And to remind you all (from several numbers ago) that I’m still holding out hope for that Emma Frost/Magik team up, here’s another priceless bit of the two of them:
07. CAPTAIN MARVEL (new)
Seventeen year old me would probably spit on this list for Carol Danvers appearing on it, and in the top 10 no less. But what 17 year old me doesn’t know yet is that Kelly Sue DeConnick was going to come along and totally make me fall in love with Carol, even though that’s in direct opposition to my fierce loyalty to Rogue. Under DeConnick’s pen I have come to care for Carol so much – it’s kind of incredible. Hell, thanks to DeConnick and Andrade I freaking cried. CRIED! Jesus. Anyway, Carol’s development as a character has been incredible and though the current series is ending, I’m delighted that Marvel is giving it another chance with DeConnick at the helm, she’ll also have the fantastic David Lopez working with her and that sounds like a match made.
Read Carol: The obvious suspects are Captain Marvel Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. If you only have money for one then I actually recommend Vol. 2 as I think Andrade is the better Capt Marvel artist and he takes over partway through that volume. I also think DeConnick really hits her stride in Vol. 2. AND Monica Rambeau shows up as a guest star in Vol. 2. Super cool bonus point? I’m quoted on the cover of Vol. 2 (from my CBR Review of the book). So, yeah. Volume 2, yo! Also worth a look is The Enemy Within crossover which is good, and I really loved DeConnick’s work on Avengers Assemble: Science Bros with gorgeous art by Stefano Caselli and Pete Woods. Carol’s only a guest star, but it’s really fun superhero stuff. Here’s Carol getting down to business. The business of dinosaurs!
06. AMERICA CHAVEZ/MISS AMERICA (new)
Who knew!?! I basically didn’t know America Chavez from a hole in the wall when I began reading Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers, and yet here she is at NUMBER 6. WHAT?!?! America is like when surliness meets goodness…and the result is so goddamn good. A laconic, powerful woman of action, America grew on me without me even realizing it. America was an interesting part of Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers tapestry, certainly not the star the way Billy, Teddy, and Loki were, but her role was incredibly important just the same and she distinguished herself in every issue – oftentimes by what she didn’t say. I ended up loving her so hardcore for her terse attitude and interest in punching everything into oblivion. I do love characters that punch. What can I say, I’m a Neanderthal.
Read America: Go directly to Young Avengers Vol 1 and Vol 2 by Gillen and McKelvie, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Enjoy. Oh, and here’s some terse battle strategy for you, courtesy of Miss America:
Easily one of my favorite ladies of the last year thanks to exceptional work by Matt Fraction and David Aja in Hawkeye. And though she didn’t get nearly enough panel time for my tastes, wonderful work by Gillen and McKelvie in Young Avengers didn’t hurt a bit either. Kate is so wonderfully complex and delicious as a character, embodying both the ultimate badass, who has her shit surprisingly together for her age (especially when compared to the adorably not together other Hawkeye) but she’s also full of neuroses and flaws, just like any real person. The result is a hero you root for so hard and want to be just like, but at the same time cannot help relating to and feeling for. Kate has an incredibly bright future ahead of her if these two books are just the start of things for her.
Read Kate: I think I said it all. Hawkeye Volume 1 and Volume 2, and all the Young Avenger trades, two of which are already out. You can also of course read all these issues digitally and catch all the way up. What a glorious day of Kate-tastic reading that would be. Here’s something to to push you over the edge:
04. ALANA (new)
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s Alana from Saga has been a favorite since I first laid eyes on her and as evidenced by her positioning she has quickly risen to the top of my favorites list. She’s just so nuanced and complicated. She’s warrior and lover, mother and wife, badass but also almost childlike in her innocence of some things – her freakout that she had “broken her daughter” when Hazel’s umbilical cord nub fell off, was charmingly human and naïve – proving you can know all about the universe and still not know about the simplest of things. I just love her for all of it. Her chemistry with Marko, her fears contrasted with her incredible bravery, her terrible taste in books, it’s all just so wonderful. Never leave me, Alana.
Read Alana: Saga. JUST BUY IT ALREADY. Here she is getting all the good lines:
03. CASSANDRA CAIN/BATGIRL (holding at #3)
For Cass I’m going to lift straight from my 2010 post because not a damn thing has changed: Cassandra Cain is one of the greatest young female characters created in the last twenty years. Batman’s daughter, an assassin that made her own way when she found the one originally forced upon her to be reprehensible. Cass is this amazing combination of pure innocence and goodness, poured into a devastating bottle of violence. She’s one of the most kind-hearted well-intentioned characters to ever wear the suit, despite her ability to defeat just about anyone, up to and including Batman. Her absence from the Bat Family is…painful for me and constantly upsetting. The treatment of Cass Cain, and almost denial of her existence remains like a hard little pebble in my heart.
Read Cass Cain: She’s got a whole giant series out there – many trades. They can be hard to find, and pricey, but they are worth the work and cash. Stop before reading the Beechen stuff. You’ll thank me.
02. WONDER WOMAN (holding at #2)
Forgive me again fro pretty much reposting what I wrote back in 2010. Its still how I feel, so there’s no sense trying to reinvent the wheel: When I finally fell for Wonder Woman, I fell hard. You can read about my feelings for Diana in more detail here. But I will say that a year ago I don’t know that Diana would have made my list at all, let alone at #2, but that’s what opening one’s mind and reading some excellent stories by some excellent writers and artists can do. When I fell, what I fell for Diana’s kindness and compassion, her strength and wisdom, but most of all her sense of humor and her humanity, which I had been missing for some reason. I really do love her now and feel excited that she exists as such an iconic and powerful figure in comics. At the end of the day I feel she’s one of the only truly iconic headlining women in mainstream comics and that’s a hard thing to do and be…it’s a lot to live up to everyday and yet Diana has done it for 60+ years with hardly a stumble. Those are some massively strong shoulders.
Read Wonder Woman: Well, there’s a hell of a lot to choose from. There’s my favorite Greg Rucka Wonder Woman trade, Eye of the Gorgon; as well as his standalone Hiketeia story. Always worth a look is Gail Simone’s take and I’d recommend starting at the beginning with The Circle. I can also happily recommend the first trade of the current Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, but don’t get attached if you care about the Amazons because Azz will break your damn heart in issue #7 and you’ll have to stop reading. Also always worth a read are Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier from which these panels hail:
01. ROGUE (up from #5)
I’ll forever be grateful to Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel for rekindling my first love intensely enough with their X-Men to shoot her back to the top of the list. I’ve loved Rogue since I was 15 and though the character has had some atrocious sidebars (and some great things too in the MANY years since I was 15) my heart soared this past year to feel her returned to her roots and former glory. Of course I also had to watch Rick Remender not only brutally murder her, but perform an unfortunate character assassination at the same time over in Uncanny Avengers, but I’m just gonna pretend that is not happening over there in the corner. I have no doubt Rogue will be back bigger and better than ever in no time at all, and I hope such a brutal exit will pave the way for an even more glorious (and interesting) return to comics.
Read Rogue: If you want the current/recent stuff I can’t recommend X-Men Vol. 1: Primer enough when it comes to Rogue. Also absolutely worth the buy (digital I guess if you can’t find the single issue?) is the Black Widow/Rogue team up story by Chris Bachalo in A+X #2 – easily one of my favorite short stories of the past year. You can also pick up Remender’s Uncanny Avengers and there is some good stuff there, but toward the end (i.e. the recent issues) I didn’t even recognize Rogue as a character – her actions felt completely counter to who she has become perhaps because that’s what Remender needed for the story he wanted – it’s unfortunate. Definitely worth a look is her current run in X-Men: Marvel Knights where she stars in a smaller story with Wolverine and Kitty.
If you want “Classic Rogue” there are some good omnibuses out there for X-Books. X-Men Vol. 1 purports to be Claremont/Lee and while that’s sorta true, it’s more Silvestri (which is not a bad thing). X-Men Vol. 2 IS more accurately Claremont/Lee. Also, if you’re in the mood for Classic Rogue with an alternate reality twist then Age of Apocalypse has been collected and as many of you may remember, Rogue gets a lot of great screen time and development there (although it’s the worst costume she’s ever had – like, seriously).
Slightly less classic Rogue but also an alt reality story that’s worth a look is Mike Carey’s ambitious Age of X in which Rogue gets some nice focus (as always with Carey who knows the character well). Age of X has problems, but there’s good stuff there as well.
Here’s some Rogue to remind you why she’s so great, in case I failed to do it in words:
Annnnnd that’s all.
So, who fell off the list? Batwoman (down from #1 and easily my most painful cut in every way), Frau Totenkinder (down from #17), The Question (down from #20), Oracle (down from #12 – second hardest cut).
And because there are so many more female characters making a push in recent years, simply for not having much (or any) new content I had to let go of: Barbara Thorson (I Kill Giants), Eliza (Black Hole), Knives Chau (Scott Pilgrim), Maggie (Love & Rockets), and Sparkle Park (Shadoweyes). Of all of them, Sparkle (and perhaps Maggie) have the best shot at coming back since I expect future volumes books that features them, not so true for wonderful Barbara, Eliza, and Knives.
Though DC dominated my list in 2010 with nearly half of the spots (9 of 20), now they’ve dropped to only 5 and no new entries. Additionally, though Wonder Woman and Cass Cain held their spots, all the other characters still on the list dropped. Marvel has surged impressively as they only had 4 spots (and none above #5) and now they have a massive 12 spots – five of those in the top 10 – and they’ve claimed the number one slot. The Indies have dropped a bit — they had 8 of 20 in 201o and in 2013 have 8 of 25 – and they still hold onto 3 of the top 10, though they are all different characters, which is interesting.
Now officially on the bubble! – Valkyrie, She-Hulk, Izabel (Saga), Deena Pilgrim (Powers:
Bureau), The Stalk (Saga – and unlikely to climb at this point, but man do I love that bitch).
To early to be legitimate contenders, but you’ve got potential, girl: – DaYoung Johansson (Rocket Girl), Suzie (Sex Criminals), Rascal (Umbral), Velvet (Velvet), and Ginny (Pretty Deadly).
Most Likely to make the jump in 2014: I’ve got two most likely – first with Black Widow getting a new series drawn by Phil Noto, and her awesome domination in the film world, she’s a near lock for next year’s list. Seriously, something would have to go HORRIBLY wrong and let’s hope it doesn’t. Second, Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s Leeward from the last page of The Wake #5 (and from the opening pages of The Wake #1). There’s no character I’m more excited to read about than this lady. Bring it, guys!
So, I’m sure all of you will let me know what I got horribly wrong in the comments. Regardless, turn in next week for the She Has No Head! Bests (and a few worsts) of 2013! Thanks for reading, all!