In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Reader Nicole K. wrote in to ask, "Who was the first female leader of a superhero team?"
The answer came in 1963's Adventure Comics #304, Nicole, by Jerry Siegel and John Forte, when Saturn Girl used her telepathic powers to force her teammates to vote her in as the new leader of the Legion of Super-Heroes...
She seemingly succeeded in then stealing the powers of all of her teammates and then headed off to take on some space pirates, in a battle she knew that she was destined to be killed in. However, Lightning Lad then stepped in and revealed that he knew of her plans...
You might be asking yourself, "But why was she taunting her teammates in her mind if she was doing all of this so that she could valiantly sacrifice herself to save her friends?" And the answer to that is...well, there really is no good answer to that. It doesn't make any sense. That was just how people did things in the Silver Age. If you had a secret plan that involved you acting like a jerk, you would even think to yourself, "Boy, I am such a jerk!" as you went about your business.
Anyhow, there you go, Nicole, it was, indeed, Saturn Girl (which is who Nicole assumed that it was when she wrote to me) that was the first female superhero to be the leader of a superhero team. It is good to know that the future was a bit better about that stuff (I believe Wasp was technically chairwoman of the Avengers in an early issue, but around the same time they also said that Rick Jones could join the Avengers as a junior member, just like Wasp - you know, random kid off of the street, lady who can shrink and fire stings - they're pretty much the same thing, right?).
Thanks for the question, Nicole! If anyone else is curious about a notable comic book first, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!