For my one-year anniversary on Comics Should Be Good I thought I should write about whatever the hell I want. And I thought what’s more fun than writing about my all-time favorite female characters from comics?
Later of course I would remember how time consuming posts like these are and curse myself for not like…taking the freaking week off with a nice easy post as a nice anniversary reward instead*. But it was too late. I was already in. So, without any additional introduction, my 20 Favorite Fictional Comics Females…with a few honorable mentions down at the bottom somewhere, because you know I just couldn’t keep it to 20…I never can…
[Potential spoilers after the cut…read with caution, also a couple potentially NSFW bits, depending on where you work…]
20. THE QUESTION
Who she is: Ex Gotham Cop Renee Montoya inherited the mantle of The Question from Vic Sage, after he succumbed to lung cancer.
Where she is: Renee is not currently in anything to my knowledge, though she most recently had an excellent co-feature in Detective Comics written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Cully Hammer, it was great stuff.
Why I love her: I haven’t been reading Renee for as long as a lot of people, and I missed huge chunks of her transition into The Question, but I’ve loved every single thing I’ve read (it doesn’t hurt that Renee is a pet project of Rucka’s and for my money it doesn’t get much better than Rucka in comics). But I think before you even get into the specifics of what makes Renee great…on paper she’s so appealing. Bat Character? Check. Detective/Ex-Detective? Check. Superhero? Check. Gay woman of color? Check. All those things are right up my alley to begin with and then add to that she’s tough and smart and no nonsense and well, ex-girlfriend of Batwoman doesn’t hurt either. I enjoyed the hell out of Renee’s team up with Huntress…and it was by far the most I’ve ever liked The Huntress…was that just Renee’s special awesomeness rubbing off on her? Time will tell.
A favorite moment: If you’re not familiar with this storyline, then I’m not going to ruin it for you, but trust me when I say it’s both as significant and ominous as it seems from the page.
19. BARBARA THORSON
Who she is: The witty sharp-tongued 12 year-old star of I Kill Giants, a girl with an imagination so large that she can convince you of almost anything.
Where she is: Only in I Kill Giants, but fortunately for you, it’s available in multiple formats – original floppies, trade paperback, and a “titan edition” hardcover.
Why I love her: There are few books that stand out in my mind as starkly as reading I Kill Giants for the first time, and for all the emotional resonance, good writing, and evocative art it has, it’s really an amazing book primarily thanks to Barbara Thorson, one of the greatest young female characters created in comics as far as I’m concerned. Fearless and heartbreaking Barbara can convince you of almost anything, and she can even bring the hard hearted (yes, I sometimes am) to tears. Plus she likes to put motivational speakers in their place, and I like nothing more than that.
A favorite moment: Barbara’s introduction and her awesome schooling of the motivational speaker that happens in the opening pages is definitely one of my favorite moments in a book filled with greatness.
Who she is: The girl with the sandwich that you’re pretty sure isn’t going to get the guy in Black Hole, but don’t count her out just yet!
Where she is: Only in the pages of Black Hole people, read it now if you’ve been “meaning to for years”. It’s soooo good. And Eliza will break your little heart.
Why I love her: How can you not? From that first vulnerable moment she appears don’t you just want Keith to forget all about Chris and fall head over heels in love with her and her sandwich and her little tail? Eliza is simultaneously just like every other girl next door that ever lived and just like no girl next door. Genuinely sweet and kind and optimistic and loving despite a rough set of circumstances, she’s a breath of fresh air on the page and in Keith’s life. Also, unlike Chris (who I have nothing against, but can’t see the appeal of when compared with Eliza) Eliza comes with a passion and talent for art, and as a comic fan I always find that particularly appealing. I don’t know that there’s a character more deserving of a happy ending than Eliza.
A favorite moment: The first time she sees Keith, and Keith sees her is great, she’s so open and unafraid, comfortable with herself and just beautiful.
17. FRAU TOTENKINDER
Who she is: Frau Totenkinder aka Frau Baby Killer and The Black Forest Witch, is the powerful magic anchor of the characters of Fabletown from the ongoing series Fables.
Where she is: Currently starring, albeit with a much younger look, in Fables as she takes on Mr. Dark to save her friends and family.
Why I love her: One of the reasons Frau Totenkinder is on this list, is simply because it’s pretty much unheard of that an old woman gets to have a featured role in a modern comic book as anything significant. Until recently, with Frau’s regression into youth, Frau Totenkinder’s presence and power has only grown and become more fascinating throughout the series and she’s done it all from the comfort of her rocking chair and knitting projects. While it is nice that she’s getting a lead role now, I would appreciate it more without the pretty looks and youth that are going with it, not because there’s anything wrong with it, but just because it’s so rare to see it the other way…so unique and original, whereas we see young pretty women kicking ass in comics everyday…so this was just more interesting to me. Alas, it was not to be. Regardless Totenkinder has proven herself to be a fascinating boundary breaking character to watch. I mean, she’s a hero and yet her name roughly translated means “death of children”…very unexpected.
A favorite moment: Totenkinder’s battle with Baba Yaga (in the guise of Riding Hood) is one of my favorite moments for not only Totenkinder, but also the entire series. So cool.
16. KNIVES CHAU
Who she is: The one-time underage girlfriend of Scott Pilgrim who was treated poorly but somehow managed to win all our hearts even though she probably wasn’t supposed to.
Where she is: In the wings waiting for her next big project? You can catch all her previous appearances in Scott Pilgrim Volumes 1 – 6, and a live action version of her (by Ellen Wong) in the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World film.
Why I love her: Because what girl hasn’t been poor awesome Knives Chau…jilted by some idiot (yes, I love you Scott Pilgrim, but you are often an idiot, I’m sure you’d agree). Lovesick and desperate, and not yet aware of her total awesomeness, Knives is that girl we all start out as (okay fine, we all HOPE to start out as) who eventually grows up and into everything that is amazing about herself and is mere moments from conquering everything she tries her hand at. I’m sure someday Bryan O’Malley is going to give me Knives Chau vs The World…right O’Malley?
A favorite moment: I love how freaking delighted she is that Ramona hates Scott. Priceless. I’ve so been that girl, although far less charming and adorable.
15. JAKITA WAGNER
Who she is: The leader and a third of the crazy cool Planetary team, Jakita is an unbelievable badass that can do just about anything she sets her mind to, up to and including take on Batman with delight.
Where she is: Nowhere. Planetary ended, and so ended Jakita. I hold out hope of seeing her again someday though. You can find her in the excellent Planetary, collected in full in trade, and a few other guest star appearances throughout Wildstorm/DC
Why I love her: 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.
A favorite moment: Here’s a page of Jakita vs Batman. You can read the whole brilliant beautiful fight here at Scans_Daily, if you’re so inclined. It’s easily one of my all-time favorite fight sequences, drawn by the great John Cassaday and just unbelievably wonderful in its movement, detail, and pacing.
14. MONICA RAMBEAU
Who she is: Originally known as Captain Marvel, and then Photon and then Pulsar, Monica Rambeau spent time leading the Avengers before ending up the leader of Nextwave…Agents of H.A.T.E.!
Where she is: Currently starring in nothing. Poo! Although she fairly recently guest starred in the atrocious Marvel Divas, and the interesting Heralds.
Why I love her: Monica is a recent addition to my list, and it’s easy to know why…I finally got around to reading Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., and it was, in a word, excellent. 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. I can’t wait to read more of Monica, I’m smitten.
A favorite moment: Monica’s got a ton of great moments in Nextwave, but I love it when she goes full obliterating gloves off ‘ultraviolet nova’ here, very cool.
13. SPARKLE PARK
Who she is: One the most adorable and optimistic young characters to debut in comics in a loooong time, she’s a highschool student in Dranac and the new bff of the crime fighting Shadoweyes
Where she is: Currently co-starring in Shadoweyes Volume 1, and set to co-star in Shadoweyes In Love in 2011.
Why I love her: Eternal optimism and cuteness. Cuteness just oozes from every pore of Sparkle Park, but never in a way that becomes annoying. Sparkle’s eternal optimism makes her one of the sweetest and most consistently caring individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading in comics. Despite being dealt a brutal hand in life herself, up to and including being saddled with a fatal illness, Sparkle still manages to soldier on with love. Sparkle offers cookies to the homeless, constantly talks about her favorite animals, makes friends with everyone, follows the exploits of her newest obsession – Shadoweyes, and plays Pony Masters with an unmatched lust for life. She’s great. She gives me hope and makes me laugh. You can read more about Shadoweyes and Sparkle and see more preview pages, here.
A favorite moment: I think I first fell for Sparkle in this scene, where she makes friends with a sad looking homeless guy and then gleefully foists sugar cookies on him. I would come to find later that this is “classic Sparkle”.
Who she is: The first Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, became the all knowing Oracle after The Joker shot her in the now infamous story The Killing Joke.
Where she is: Currently starring in Birds of Prey as the leader of a mostly female team of superheroes, she also guest stars in a variety of Bat books including most recently a co-starring role in Batgirl.
Why I love her: I think of all the things that I love about Barbara, the thing I love most is just how goddamn smart she is. As I go through this list there are a lot of uses of the word “strong” and “badass”, and Babs is also those things, but smart is what comes to mind first, and while I’m not suggesting that all of these women aren’t also smart, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind with most of them them. But brains really can win the day, and I like that Barbara knows that and built an entirely new life around it. When one talent was taken away from her, she focused on her others (which were many) and became arguably even more powerful in her world. I know some people argue that the fact that Barbara remains paralyzed is insulting in a universe in which people come back from the dead daily, and in which magic can heal just about any wound when convenient…and I can’t pretend they don’t have a point. However, she’s just such a powerful important character as she is, and such a critical role model in a universe (comics) in which non-able bodied role models are few and far between that it’s hard for me to argue that the comics world would be better if Oracle was healed. If Barbara Gordon was a real person, certainly I would not argue that she stay in a wheelchair should the opportunity to get out of it be provided to her, but as she’s a character, I think she’s horribly unique in comics, and fills a vacuum that no other current hero I know of could fill…so I can’t say I want her jumping from rooftops as just one of dozens of other heroes…when what she’s doing and represents seems so much more unique and important.
A favorite moment: Just Babs being brilliant badass Babs, saving the world with brains and a laptop.
11. EMMA FROST
Who she is: A former bad guy as White Queen of the Hellfire Club before rehabilitating herself to become a hero and teacher in Generation X, and now a commanding force as co-leader of the X-Men.
Where she is: Currently co-starring in a variety of X-books including X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Xenogenesis, and the recent Heralds mini-series.
Why I love her: 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 in recent years and made her a force in comics to be reckoned with. Writers (and artists too) spent YEARS rehabilitating Emma Frost into the character we’ve got today, one I wouldn’t trade for a million Jean Greys. And that’s another claim Emma has on my heart. She broke up the most boring couple in the whole world as far as I’m concerned. Jean Grey, though she grew on me over the years, was never a favorite character of mine, despite the fact that she played a starring role in some of the greatest X-Men stories of all time. Certainly her dead/alive/dead/alive nonsense has worn me out, but frankly it’s more the constant attempt to make Jean “perfect” that wore me out first. The Emma/Scott dynamic is far superior to me than the Jean/Scott dynamic and I’ve always liked Scott Summers so I’m glad the man finally got a break. Don’t get me wrong, Emma’s still high-maintenance as all get out, but she feels like a partner to him in a way that Jean never did to me.
A favorite moment: There are so many with Emma, as I loved her especially in Morrison’s New X-Men and Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, but I really like this more recent moment where we see a less secure Emma Frost in Immonen’s Heralds:
10. AGENT 355
Who she is: An agent of the secretive Culper Ring, 355 is tasked with safe-guarding Yorick, the last man. 355 (three fifty five, whose real name may or may not be Peace) devotes herself tirelessly to Yorick’s safety for the entirety of Y The Last Man.
Where she is: Sadly the end of 355’s appearances is in Y The Last Man, but fortunately, she’s in almost every issue of the 60-issue series, which leaves a lot of great reading.
Why I love her: 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.
A favorite moment: 355 has a ton of badass moments in Y, but this is one of my absolute favorites.
Who she is: Selina Kyle, the elusive Catwoman, the thief that captured Batman’s heart and never really let it go.
Where she is: Currently co-starring in Gotham City Sirens and the one-shot Batman/Catwoman: Follow The Money (neither of which I’m wild about) and the upcoming Batman Inc., which I’m hopeful and excited for.
Why I love her: 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 characters 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. 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.
A favorite moment: This is a great moment from the Brubaker/Cooke run that really well illustrates both the relationship between Catwoman and Batman, and also, Selina’s acknowledgment that whatever Bruce may think, life is complicated and not just about good and bad, black and white.
08. JESSICA JONES
Who she is: Once (and again?) known as the superhero Jewel, Jessica Jones was a private detective in her own series, Alias, as a single girl and ex-superhero trying to make a living and get over a serious trauma perpetrated on her by The Purple Man. She’s now back to superhero-ing and married to Luke Cage, with whom she has a daughter, Danielle.
Where she is: Currently co-starring in The New Avengers.
Why I love her: I think the biggest reason I love Jessica is because she’s a fuck up. And we need more of those. I love that Jessica Jones fails as much as she succeeds. I love that she wasn’t good at being a superhero and knew it and moved on. Although now she’s moved back…which I feel medium about…I mean I’m glad to see her again and if the only way I can do that is as a superhero in a superhero title, then I’ll take it, but I prefer her as Jessica Jones the fucked-up private investigator. I love that she feels bad about the fact that she wasn’t a great superhero, and that she seems out of place in The New Avengers now. I loved that she was a normal chick walking around in street clothes trying to detective her way through, but with pretty incredible superpowers hanging out just under the surface and I like that now she’s not so sure about what she can or can’t do as a superhero and I look forward to watching her figure all that out too. I really like that she’s dealing with serious trauma like so many of us, but she soldiers on…and given her current situation, happily married, a new baby, and trying to be a good superhero, she’s doing pretty well. Jessica Jones is one of those great relateable and highly believable characters that just makes me feel in comics…regardless of what moment in her life I’m experiencing.
A favorite moment: She’s so brutally honest and tells it like it is here, it’s the kind of stuff I love her for. Me? Go to a magical land in the antarctic to look for a giant missing cat? No thanks, you’ve got the wrong girl, I don’t even like going over the Queensborough bridge. Priceless.
07. BIG BARDA
Who she is: Born a New God on Apokolips and trained to lead the Furies, Barda gave it all up for love with Scott Free (Mister Miracle) and has become a hero of note on Earth.
Where she is: Currently starring in nothing. What a waste!
Why I love her: Big Barda is actually a fairly new love of mine. Reading old Birds of Prey reminded me how much I loved her and I’ve been slowly seeking out some of her older stories (recommendations for collected places where she has significant appearances are welcome!). I’m kind of 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 (hence #7 on the list) but I can absolutely see the truth in that statement. I think that HAS been a stumbling block for Diana, and one Barda never had. Regardless, I can’t think of much I’d like more in comics than a Barda/Scott Free book (or web series by Ramon Perez!) and I look forward to seeking out more of her older stories now that I’m firmly in “camp Barda”.
A favorite moment: In Birds Of Prey Big Barda quickly stole the show for me and Gail Simone writes her exceptionally. One of my favorite bits is when she bonded with Sin over card games. I love her!
ETA: Gail Simone corrected me in the comments – this page was actually written by Tony Bedard. Apologies Mr. Bedard. Nice work!
06. MARGARITA LUISA “MAGGIE” CHASCARRILLO
Who she is: Maggie (also sometimes known as Perla), created by Jaime Hernandez is one of the main characters in the Love & Rockets ongoing opus
Where she is: Found in the bulk of Jaime Hernandez’s Love & Rockets stories, she’s especially prominent in his beautiful Locas and Locas II hardback collections.
Why I love her: Man, what’s not to love? I love Maggie’s crazy neurotic ways and the crazy faces she makes. I love how open and loving she is and how she makes mistakes ALL the time. I suppose most of all I love her evolution from adorable slender sci-fi mechanic to curvy apartment manager. Like all Love & Rockets characters, and unlike most comic characters, Maggie is allowed to change and age over time, but Maggie, perhaps because of her weight is always one of the most obvious and interesting characters that exhibits changes over time. I love that Jaime loves her enough to let her change, even if that means putting on pounds and never really getting over it. She’s one of the only characters I’ve ever read that realistically talks about her body as women do, and it endears her to me endlessly. Also, she’s frequently hilarious in a hi-jinks/physical way.
A favorite moment: I couldn’t post my FULL favorite moment because I only had access to the Locas and Locas II hardcovers, which though stunning, are impossible to scan from. I scoured the internet for the full page to no avail (you have failed me internet!) so I have to give you part of a snippet. It’s still gorgeous stuff though.
Who she is: A runaway mutant with the devastating power to drain people of…well, everything, including memories and powers with a touch. The foster daughter of the sometimes villain Mystique, Rogue was a villain for a while as well, before becoming an X-Man and hero. She never went back.
Where she is: Rogue can now be found at least occasionally guest starring in a variety of X-titles, and starring regularly in Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy.
Why I love her: There’s something to be said for first love. Rogue rocked my world from the first moment I saw her knock the crap out of a sentinel in a mall in the 1990’s X-Men The Animated Series episode #1 which my brother and I stumbled upon one Sunday morning purely be accident. It was an accident that honestly changed my whole life. Comics became a huge part of my world, including eventually going to college to study them. And they remain so to this day…um…obviously, I guess, since here I am, writing about them. And Rogue was a huge part of that. I fell in love with her sassy attitude in the face of tragic circumstances. I found her powers fascinating and it shaped her in ways that similar adolescent/teen things were shaping me. I always related to Rogue…as an adult I think I relate to her less, but it hasn’t diminished my love for her. I haven’t always been a fan of things that writers (and artists) have done to her over the years, but like any character that you fall in love with early, she remains untarnished in my mind (and nameless by the way…Anna has never fit to me, although it’s a better fit than Marie). Anyway, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of a resurgence for her character via Mike Carey, who clearly loves her as I do, even if we don’t always see the same direction for her. I wish some of the artists that have drawn her in the last few years had the same respect for her that Carey does (you KNOW I’m talking about that damn zipper). I will say that I have loved Clay Mann’s take on her over the last few months as it feels both respectful and authentic while also being gorgeous.
A favorite moment: Totally not a “big” moment, but a favorite moment from my teenage reading, when Rogue finally regains her “Ms. Marvel” powers in Uncanny X-Men while trapped in The Savage Land. This really always was Rogue to me, and without disliking who she is today I can honestly say I miss this part of her, which she seems to have grown out of. Ah, nostalgia runs deep, doesn’t it?
Who she is: The baddest motherfucker to ever handle a katana blade and for my money the best character of The Walking Dead, Michonne is a katana wielding ex-lawyer that joined the core group during their time at the prison and soon became not only irreplaceable, but family.
Where she is: Michonne is currently co-starring in The Walking Dead…and will hopefully eventually be appearing on the hit AMC TV show as well.
Why I love her: As I mentioned two weeks ago, readers were introduced to Michonne in The Walking Dead #19, as she shows up at the prison with two zombies in tow, their arms and jaws removed, in order to help mask her scent from other zombies. The sight of Michonne, Katana blade in hand, on your doorstep with a couple of dismembered zombies (one of which used to be her boyfriend) as her protection? Hello, my name is badass, can I please come in? Michonne is the traditional strong silent type that I’ve become so fond of – only speaking when she really has something significant to say – unless it’s a scene of her talking to herself – but that’s a whole other story. Kirkman put Michonne through the ringer later in the series with a highly controversial and brutal rape, and torture at the hands of The Governor, the kind of experiences that only the strongest can survive. I had conflicted feelings about the storyline, but at the end of the day had to admit that it was likely a harsh reality of the world Michonne lives in. A character less than Michonne would probably not have survived it, and in the end it only strengthened my devotion to her. Michonne is a survivor in the truest sense of the word, yet she has kept hold of her humanity despite it all. In the zombie apocalypse Kirkman has created, nobody is a bigger badass than Michonne, although Andrea is clearly trying to take the title of late.
A favorite moment: Michonne has so many epic completely amazing moments, but as I said last week, I think my favorite remains her introduction to the series, cloaked, carrying a katana blade, and with two armless jawless zombies in tow to the keep the others off her scent, she saves a guy’s life and then asks if she can come in. Totally cool.
03. CASSANDRA CAIN
Who she is: Cass Cain is the daughter of Lady Shiva and Assassin David Cain, and now the adopted daughter of Bruce Wayne. She’s also, though not the original, the most badass Batgirl to ever grace the page.
Where she is: She can currently be found exactly nowhere. Because DC is stupid (I’m sorry guys, but you are – you are wasting one of the greatest characters you’ve ever created). And yes, I know she showed up briefly in Red Robin #17, but that is not any Cass Cain that I recognize.
Why I love her: 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. It’s also likely the main thing that keeps me from being able to embrace Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. Even though Bryan Q. Miller is writing a good Steph and I appreciate that the book exists as one of the few comics out there starring a young non-sexualized superheroine, the treatment of Cass Cain, and almost denial of her existence…it’s like a hard little pebble in my heart.
A favorite moment: So many good ones out there, but since I can only post a panel or so, I’m going to do this one, which so well captures Cass’ indomitable will. But go here to Scans_Daily to read a lot of great Cass pages, including her epic fight with Bruce.
02. WONDER WOMAN
Who she is: Diana of Themyscira and sometimes Diana Prince, an Amazon of epic power, Diana is Wonder Woman, one of the greatest and most powerful female characters ever created for comics,
Where she is: Diana currently stars in her own book (Wonder Woman) and can be found guest starring in books throughout the DC Universe.
Why I love her: It’s only in the last year that I’ve fallen in love with Wonder Woman…but when I fell, I fell hard (I even bought a Wonder Woman mug – it’s awesome). 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. This past year 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.
A favorite moment: There’s so much to choose from with Diana, and I picked something that is probably not really on people’s radar…but for me was really emotional and poignant and that truly shows the depth of Diana’s compassion and love.
Who she is: Kate Kane, daughter of a military father, and dishonorably discharged from the military for being gay, Kate struggled for years, lost and without purpose, until she realized she could serve in a new way, as a Bat. Once she decided, she never looked back. She’s amazing.
Where she is: Almost here! Kate Kane returns in a few weeks in Batwoman #0 a precursor to her new series launch – Batwoman #1 – in February 2011. She can also be found in back issues of Detective Comics, the hardcover Batwoman: Elegy edition, and in guest appearances in a few places including a nice turn in Batman & Robin.
Why I love her: Anyone who reads this column regularly is not surprised by Batwoman coming in as number one, even though she’s a relatively new character. I have repeatedly called her ‘the superhero I’ve been waiting for’ over the last year, and it’s truly how I feel. Batwoman actually has an advantage I think in being so new to comics, in that there haven’t been as many opportunities to screw her up as a lot of other ladies on this list. Regardless, I’m massively pleased with what is essentially the creation of a major female superhero in comics, one with iconic staying power that also manages to break boundaries. Kate manages to be a strong powerful female hero that seems equal to, though different than, Batman. It’s not an easy task standing up to Batman even just in concept. It takes unheard of strength of character. For my money Batman’s a perfectly conceived character from start to finish, and he has the vulnerabilities and the character flaws (i.e. he’s a dick) that Superman and Wonder Woman lack, the very things that I think sometimes make them hard to relate to for me. Yet Kate Kane has these things the same way that Bruce has them, all her own demons and baggage, both physical and emotional and it makes her fascinating, I literally cannot wait to watch her tackle the world.
A favorite moment: There are so many iconic badass Batwoman moments already, thanks in part to Williams III’s amazing imagery, but in the end, when re-reading Elegy I realized this very quiet, very human, very non-Bat moment was my favorite, and in light of the controversy surrounding DADT these days, I thought it was particularly appropriate. Talk about strength of character.
And with that, we come to the end of my 20 favorite fictional comics females. As usual I’m never quite sure I got the order right, but it’s also an ever changing list, so I try to remember that and not stay awake at night trying to figure out if I really do love Michonne more than Rogue or Jessica Jones more than Catwoman…?! I discover new characters everyday, and as I change and grow, and new writers and artists create awesome new stories and characters, characters move up and down the list, some drop off and new ones are added…but for today…this is how I feel…tomorrow? Time will tell. But I will say that there are five characters right now, that are poised to make trouble for the ladies on the list, if I can just get some more of them…
FIVE I WANT MORE OF:
01. Dex Parios from Stumptown
The good news about Dex is that I AM getting more of her, and more of her by one of the greatest comics writers of all time – Greg Rucka, paired with an artist that I’m a huge fan of – Matthew Southworth. I can’t wait until the next arc of Stumptown begins. You can read more about Dex here and here.
Maybe it’s just because she’s got the greatest comics name ever, maybe it’s because Brian Wood has whet my appetite for more tales from this region with his excellent Northlanders series, maybe it’s just because I like that stilted old-fashioned speaking voice they use for her, but I would LOVE to see Valkyrie in a series. I know she’s c0-starring in Secret Avengers right now…but I’m afraid the art there is a deal breaker for me, so except for the first issue I’ve stayed away…it pains me on a monthly basis though. So yeah, in order to get my fix, I’m hoping for a series, or at least a mini-series, preferably one drawn by Chris Bachalo…who has such a great interpretation of her and can almost make her breast plates look not ridiculous…check it:
03. The Ladies of DV8: Copycat, Freestyle, Sublime, and Bliss.
I’ve made no secret of my love of Brian Wood’s re-imagining of DV8 this past year in his Gods & Monsters mini-series, and that combined with Rebekah Isaacs stunning visuals (and character design revamp) has me more interested in these characters than ever. I suppose with Wildstorm shuttered (and one of these ladies dead) it’s unlikely I’ll get more of them anytime soon – unless DC can find a way to reasonably work them into the DCU tapestry…here’s hoping!
I could pretty much write “see above, Valkyrie” for my interest in Sif, but that wouldn’t give her enough credit. Even though the same things hold – great name, high interest in Norse mythology and history, etc. – it was Kelly Sue DeConnick’s surprisingly good (not that I was surprised by DeConnick, but one-shot’s are notorious for being terrible) take on Sif that really piqued my interest, now interest piqued I’m anxious for more. And more Travel Foreman covers, like the one below wouldn’t hurt either!
05. Abigail Brand
As if it’s not cool enough that she has green hair and Wolverine likes to call her “hydra-hair”, she’s dating Beast. And anyone that dates Beast is a-ok in my book. Brand was awesome under Whedon’s pen in Astonishing X-Men, she was awesome under Gillen’s pen in the short-lived S.W.O.R.D. series, and awesome under Immonen’s pen in the Heralds mini-series, and so without dis-crediting how talented these writers are…I’m inclined to think the character is just flat out awesome.
So what about the ‘also rans’ that came so close (and which surely the comments will be full of)? It pained me to cut so many ladies, but for one reason or another – I haven’t read enough of the lady in question, or I didn’t like certain portrayals over the years, or they just don’t quite do it for me right now – they lost out to the top 20. But cutting some felt a little like cutting off an arm: Tara Chace (Queen & Country), Alice (Shortcomings), Amanda Waller (Suicide Squad/Secret Six), Girl One and Irma (Top 10), Deena Pilgrim (Powers), Cindy (Fables), Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Black Widow), Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk (She-Hulk), Carrie Stetko (Whiteout), Miho (Sin City), Mara (Wet Moon), Fritzi (Love & Rockets), Cameron Chase (Chase/Manhunter), Kate Spencer/Manhunter (Manhunter/Streets Of Gotham), Enid (Ghost World), Kitty Pryde (X-Men/Excalibur), Francine & Katchoo (Strangers In Paradise), Jenny Sparks (Authority), and of course that crazy badass bitch Elektra (Elektra).
Maybe next year ladies.
*The eagle-eyed among you may notice some snippets in here from my post 10 Great Female Comic Book Characters Of The Decade post. But don’t worry, I gave myself permission to steal from myself.