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!