05. WONDER WOMAN (down from #2)
Forgive me again for 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 five years ago I don’t know that Diana would have made my list at all, let alone in the top 5, 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 was 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. I haven’t been able to read much Wonder Woman over the last three years, but I take what I can get and when I can’t read her I just sit back, bide my time, and wait until I can again. When she’s for me again, I’ll be there waiting, that, I can promise you.
Read Wonder Woman: Well, there’s a hell of a lot to choose from, though little of it recent. 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 iconic panels hail:
04. FOREVER CARLYLE (up from #10)
Forever shot onto my list at an impressive #10 her first time out and every single thing Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have done with her since has only helped her climb steadily up the ladder until she unseated freaking Wonder Woman! WHAT?! Yeah, suffice to say, that’s some impressive character work. I never would have thought a newbie, even one written by Greg Rucka could have managed to unseat Diana, but Forever has impressed me at every turn. In issue #5 Greg Rucka and Michael Lark managed the kind of subtle, smart character building that poises a character to become one of the greats – that’s what got her on the list last year and everything they have done since then have only made her more impossible to ignore. 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 deluxe Lazarus trade collecting the first 9 issues is out now, collecting. Get it! You’ll thank me. Here’s some Forever taking care of business, unsavory though it is. Shades of Jakita, yeah?
03. HAWKEYE/KATE BISHOP (up from #5)
Easily one of my favorite ladies of the last year thanks to exceptional work by Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Annie Wu 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. Though Kate arguably didn’t have AS big a year this year as last, I’m still every bit as in love with her (if not more) and when I think of characters I want to see more of, she’s always foremost in my mind.
02. ROGUE (down from #1)
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 to see 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. Yes, Remember brought her back, and yes he tried to repair what he had done (and yes, that was clearly his plan all along) but I object to the whole thing. It was too painful to watch and ultimately wasn’t worth the price of admission (for me). All that said, it barely tarnished my love for my girl (dropping her from #1 to #2) I have no doubt Rogue will be back bigger and better than ever – surely Marvel has something epic in store for her to make up for this rough year she had, right guys?
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.
01. CASSANDRA CAIN/BATGIRL (up from #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.
Who Fell off the list: Catwoman (from #13), Sif (from #12), Jet (from #23), Dex Parios (from #21), Jessica Jones (from #25), Gwendolyn (from #9), Psylocke (from #16). Pained me to lose any of these ladies, and as always I never feel quite sure about my list, but they’re only a good year and a handful of good stories to get back on the list.
Who made the jump from last year’s bubble: She-Hulk! Black Widow!
Who’s on the bubble: Thor (Thor), Spider-Gwen (Spider-Gwen), Kamau Kogo (Bitch Planet), Pomeline Fritch (Gotham Academy), Suzie (Sex Criminals), Valkyrie (Various Marvel), Sif (Various Marvel), Jessica Jones (Mighty Avengers/Various), Future Molly Hayes (she’s only been in a few odd stories, but I LOVE her…she’s one mini-series or guest-starring appearance away from making this list).
Who’s most likely to make the jump next year: Thor and Spider-Gwen. And maybe not next year but with Jessica Jones getting a TV show I hope we’ll see some focus on her in comics too, which could get her – a long time favorite – back on the list with ease.
Annnnnd that’s all. So what about you? Who makes your top 25? Does it change a lot from year to year or hold steady?
Kelly Thompson is a freelance writer living in Manhattan. She is the author of the superhero novel THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING recently optioned to become a film, and her new novel STORYKILLER is out now. She is also writing the forthcoming JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS comic from IDW. You can find Kelly all over the place, but twitter may be the easiest: @79semifinalist