I have comic book weapons on the brain these days. I’ve been working on a few comic pitches and weapons are involved (because of course they are). And it got me thinking about all the great weapons I love in comics.
Comic have heavily influenced both of my novels – and for the second novel - Storykiller - I decided I needed to create a weapon worthy of my lead, her mission, and the massive world I was creating. So it was with a lot of my favorite comic book weapons in mind that I created La Colombe Noire (The Black Dove) a magical double sided axe that could only be called forth (and wielded) by its owner and its ownership could only be transferred by killing the previous owner with it. The Black Dove turned out to be one of my favorite things in Storykiller, though it certainly helped to have artists like Sophie Campbell and Stephanie Hans bringing it to beautiful life:
So I though it might make for a fun column to talk about some of my favorite comic book weapons. What’s on this list…well, there’s a mountain of great weapons in the comic-verse, but since this column is about women in comics I decided to stick to weapons that have been wielded by women at some point or another (sometimes exclusively, sometimes not). And then here’s the usual disclaimer: these are not necessarily the “most powerful” or “best” weapons but just my favorites -- both those I enjoy reading about and those that I would most definitely like to get my hands on as a creator!
In no particular order:
Owner/Wielder: Technically, Batman, but for our purposes Cass Cain/Batgirl/Black Bat
Why they're awesome: The quintessential Bat weapon is almost as famous as Batman himself. And it’s kind of amazing that they’re so beloved because they’re based (at least loosely) on boomerangs. And while I intend no offense against boomerangs, they’re not particularly scary as weapons go. So the fact that they have such kind of “humble” origins and are one of the most known (and feared) weapons in the comic universe is pretty incredible. If you’re a criminal what’s scarier than seeing a Batarang fly by? Almost nothing. Batarangs are often used more like throwing stars or shuriken these days than boomarangs, but that’s pretty cool too so should hardly count against the weapon. Also pretty fantastic is that in the same way that the same way Batman has spawned related characters (Batgirl, Batwoman, etc.) batarangs have spawned their own related versions: Wing-Dings, Birdarangs, and the poorly named R-shaped Shuriken are all “things” we fans know well. Robin needs a new PR guy I guess!
Fatal Flaw: Being too badass? Is that a flaw?
Most recent wielder: Sharon Carter/Agent 13
Why it’s awesome: In addition to having one of the best names around (Satan Claw, are you kidding me?!?!) it’s one of those weapons that (probably in part thanks to having an awesome and terrifying name) has a long history and despite trying to be destroyed many times never manages to go away. The Satan Claw is also notable as being the actual prosthetic arm for Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker for some time after losing it to Nick Fury, but it’s also been just an object/weapon that someone can put on over their hand to give them both crazy increased strength and the power to deliver electrical shocks. The Satan Claw is apparently in the hands of SHIELD right now. The first time I saw the Satan Claw was actually pretty recently when Sharon Carter wielded it in Warren Ellis and David Aja’s Secret Avengers #18. I’ve been obsessed with seeing more of it ever since. Interesting tidbit – from what I can tell an alternate reality version of the Satan Claw absorbs the youth/energy of its victims making the wearer younger/stronger. Soooo cool.
Fatal Flaw: That it’s not on Sharon Carter’s hand at all times?
Owner/Wielder: Illyana Rasputin/Magik
Why it’s awesome: Literally a sword made out of Ilyana’s soul. We could probably just stop there. That trumps almost anything. Oh wait, there’s even more cool crap. Not only is it made of her soul, but she made (and named it) herself and used it to escape from Limbo. Though others have wielded the sword (most notably Kitty Pryde) only Illyana has full mastery over the sword, which makes sense since it’s made of her freaking soul. Easily one of he most powerful weapons in the Marvel Universe its full power has likely not even been revealed but what has been revealed is no less than: possession determines leadership of Limbo, disrupts magic and breaks spells, teleportation, spell casting, heightened/super strength, augmented/increased magical power, ability to summon the mystical Eldrich Armor, manipulating dimensions, magical summoning (and storing), and absorption of souls. So, yeah. Big. Strong. Badass. Sword. The sword has changed over time, possibly (likely) related to Illyana herself changing. And in Chris Bachalo’s hands over the last few years it has become a truly magnificent and distinguishing weapon. Oh yeah, and it gains in strength and ability with each use. O_O
Fatal Flaw: Weapons that have that much power are obviously dangerous in the wrong hands (and those “wrong hands” have sometimes even been Illyana’s). Also, swords made out of people’s souls…seems like just asking for trouble, doesn’t it?
Owner/Wielder: Big Barda
Why it’s awesome: When you’ve got a character as powerful, badass, and subtle (ha) as Big Barda you need a weapon to match, and bonus points when it’s got a name as unsubtle as MEGA-ROD. So great. The Mega-Rod can project high-level energy blasts (enough to blast through the hull of a ship!), it can be used for the best kind of transportation – teleportation! – and of course you can hit people with it. What good is a weapon you can’t bludgeon people with amirite? And even though I LOVE The Mother Box (motherboooooxxxxx!) The Mega-Rod is one up on it because though it’s powerful its less likely to be used as a Deus Ex Machina problem solver for all occasions, which kinda happens a lot with The Mother Box.
Fatal Flaw: Apparently an alias for the Mega-Rod is the Power Wand. And I can only ask WHY? You are called The Mega-Rod there is no better name!
BOW & ARROW
Owner/Wielder: Kate Bishop/Hawkeye
Why they're awesome: A bow & arrow has been pretty awesome for a very long time, I mean, original bad boy Robin Hood was all about it, right? And if there was any doubt Katniss Everdeen more recently made it effortlessly cool on big screens everywhere. But Clint and Kate have been rocking the simple bow & arrow for a long time now. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye #3 was the perfect issue to illustrate why the bow & arrow is so great as a comics weapon. As Kate mercilessly makes fun of Clint’s “trick arrows” (and the reader feels tempted to agree) in the end both Kate and the reader must come around (beautifully and hilariously) to respect even trick arrows and to understand that everything has its place and value. The issue really puts a fine point (no pun!) on how powerful an expert marksmen, and a quiver full of arrows, trick or otherwise, can be – and how much fun. While most of the other weapons on this list have great powerful names – and there IS power in those names – there’s something to be said for the idea that the “special-ness” of Kate and Clint lies in themselves and any old bow and arrow will do. Turning a weakness into a strength is what Hawkeyes are all about donchaknow!?
Fatal Flaw: Can be hard to carry around and has limited ammo, though through the miracle of comics we rarely see that as an issue.