Throughout comic book history, women have traditionally been depicted as supporting characters who are unequal to their male counterparts. For a long time, women were only the wives, girlfriends, love interests, and damsels in distress for the male superhero to go off and save. When there was a female superhero, she wasn’t always an accurate depiction of femininity, since the comic book industry was designed for, and dominated by, men for decades. Things have improved slowly over the years, though it hasn’t always been perfect.
In the modern era of comics, we now have many powerful and genuine depictions of women in the genre, some of whom have gone on to become extremely popular in various forms of media. Whether it be science fiction, fantasy or traditional superheroes, there are many strong female protagonists who deserve your attention. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are the 15 fiercest warrior women in comics.
Known as “The Deadliest Woman In The Universe,” Gamora made her debut in 1975’s “Strange Tales” #180 by Jim Starlin. She is remembered as the last of her race, the Zen-Whoberis, who were hunted down and exterminated. As a child, Gamora was taken in by Thanos and trained to become a skilled warrior, hand-to-hand combatant and weapons master. She also possesses superhuman strength and agility, along with an accelerated healing factor. Thanos employed her as an assassin during the Infinity Trilogy before she eventually abandoned his service.
Gamora worked as a mercenary throughout the cosmos before serving as a key recruit in the United Front against the Annihilation Wave. She has gone head-to-head with some of the strongest heroes and villains in the universe, coming out on top against many of them, and never going down without a fight. The character was brought to prominence when she joined the new Guardians of the Galaxy, which brought Gamora to the big screen.
Lyra, the hero who would be known as the Savage She-Hulk, debuted in the 2008 “Hulk: Raging Thunder” #1 one-shot from Jeff Parker and Mitch Breitweiser. She eventually starred in “All New Savage She-Hulk” a year later. The character is from Earth-8009, an alternate world where a war between sexes has dominated the planet. Needing a weapon to defeat her opponents, the Thundra of that reality uses the Hulk’s DNA to engineer a powerful daughter who can help turn the tide of war.
As the offspring of two of the world’s most powerful beings, Lyra possesses a vast level of super strength, speed, stamina and durability. She can leap great distances and has also become a skilled hand-to-hand fighter. Lyra travels to the modern world, where she ends up battling She-Hulk, fends off the Gamma Corps and helps to take down Intelligencia. During her time on Earth-616, she joins A.R.M.O.R., a government organization tasked with monitoring disturbances from alternate realities. She also enrolls into the Avengers Academy.
As a child, Knockout was raised on the nightmare world of Apokolips where she was trained in the orphanage of Granny Goodness. She became one of Darkseid’s elite guards known as the Female Furies before finally escaping from her tormentors and fleeing to Earth. As a New God, she possesses super strength, invulnerability and was trained to be an expert in hand-to-hand combat.
Debuting in “Superboy” #1, Knockout made her way to Hawaii, where she tried to make a living as a stripper before coming to blows with the young Superboy in 1994. The two shared a tumultuous relationship as the Boy of Steel attempted to reform her. Years later she joined the Secret Society of Supervillains as a double agent for the Secret Six and her girlfriend Scandal Savage. She eventually came face-to-face with the New God Big Barda and the two fought to a standstill before walking away as friends.
By far one of the fiercest warriors in the DC Universe has to be the Amazon known as Artemis. Debuting in “Wonder Woman” #301, Artemis is a member of the Amazonian splinter group the Bana-Mighdall of Egypt. She is depicted as more aggressive, violent and warlike than Wonder Woman, and more prepared for a fight than her peers. Artemis has all the abilities of an Amazon, including super strength, speed, invulnerability and flight. She is also an expert in swordsmanship and unarmed combat.
Artemis comes into conflict with Diana on more than one occasion, even usurping her role as Wonder Woman for a time before her untimely death. She proves to be too powerful to contain in the afterlife when she kills her captor and escapes Tartarus back to the land of the living. The Rebirth title “Red Hood and the Outlaws” reintroduces her as an Amazon who wields the mystic axe known as Mistress, which imbues her with additional magical abilities.
Lady Sif was created by the legendary team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for 1964’s “Journey Into Mystery” #102. She was introduced in order to provide Thor with a new love interest that was in stark contrast with the mortal Jane Foster. Though she was originally depicted as the third member of a superhero love triangle, she has since overcome that role to be someone far more important. Sif has been seen in both animation and feature films, and she even starred in “Journey Into Mystery” from #646-655.
As an Asgardian, Sif retains many of the great abilities that her race is known to possess, including heightened levels of strength, speed and endurance. She is ageless and an expert in armed and unarmed combat, capable of besting almost any opponent in a fight. Extensive training from the time she was a child has helped Sif attain levels of strength and skill that surpass most Asgardians. She also possesses a sword that allows her to open interdimensional passageways.
A creation of Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane, Angela first appeared in 1993’s “Spawn” #9 for Image Comics. She was an angelic bounty hunter working for Heaven to oppose Spawn. The two eventually became allies until her death in “Spawn” #100 in 2000. She is seen as an immortal, capable of being returned to life by the forces of Heaven. Angela possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility and endurance. She is also a master in hand-to-hand combat.
Following a lengthy legal battle, Gaiman was awarded the full rights to the character. He then sold the rights to use her to Marvel Comics. She was subsequently introduced into the Marvel Universe, where it was discovered that she is the long lost sister of Thor. She has since joined the ranks of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and in “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin,” she defeats Thor in combat before invading the realm of the underworld and temporarily taking on the role as Queen of Hel.
The Asgardians are known as some of the fiercest fighters in all of the Marvel Universe, so it should come as no surprise that more than one graces this list. Brunnhilde, known to the superhero community as Valkyrie, is the leader of the Valkyrior, who are tasked with guiding the souls of the dead to their final resting place in Valhalla. Along with this important position, she is also considered to be one of the most powerful among her people, with enhanced strength, endurance and speed. She is also in possession of the enchanted sword Dragonfang, which grants her even more power.
While her first loyalty has always been to Asgard, Valkyrie has frequently had adventures on Earth. Since making her debut in 1973’s “The Defenders” #4, Valkyrie has gone toe-to-toe with some of the strongest heroes and villains in the world and has even joined the Defenders and the Secret Avengers.
8 POWER PRINCESS
In 1983, Marvel Comics introduced the Wonder Woman pastiche known as Power Princess in the pages of “The Defenders” #112. She hails from Earth-712, the home of Marvel’s version of the Justice League of America, Squadron Supreme. In this world, the woman known as Zarda is a member of the Utopians from Utopia Island, like the Amazons are from Themyscira. Power Princess is a highly trained warrior with super strength, speed, endurance and the ability to fly. She also has an invisible shield she uses to deflect attacks.
Zarda has been all over the Marvel multiverse, travelling to Earth-616 with her teammates in the Squadron Supreme and exploring multiple earths with the Exiles. There have also been multiple versions of the character over the years. Warrior Woman is a version of Power Princess who is far more villainous than her counterpart. This version of Zarda possesses the ability to shoot energy beams from her eyes and can absorb the life from her victims in order to keep herself alive. No matter the version, Power Princess is one of the most formidable warriors across several universes.
Thundra comes from an alternate reality where the battle of the sexes erupted into all out war in the 23rd century. As seen in 1972’s “Fantastic Four” #129, she is the leader and greatest warrior of the Femizon people. Trained for war against male oppressors from a young age, Thundra is a master of all forms of combat. She also possesses immense super strength, invulnerability and the ability to heal from many wounds. With her incredible abilities, she led her people in the fight against the invading armies of Machus, the oppressive male counterparts of Femizonia.
She has travelled to the modern day Earth-616 universe on more than one occasion, beating the Thing in combat before becoming an ally of the Fantastic Four. In more recent years, she defeated Red Hulk in battle and even fought the original Hulk to a standstill. She orchestrated the latter fight in order to seize the DNA of Bruce Banner and create her daughter Lyra. Ever the warrior, Thundra has become an important ally to many around the Marvel Universe.
We all know that Thor is one of the mightiest warriors in all of comics, which means the new female Thor can only be among the fiercest. When Thor is deemed unworthy to wield the hammer Mjolnir, Jane Foster proves she is, and takes on the mantle. As the goddess of Thunder, she has all the abilities of Thor, including super strength, speed, invulnerability and flight. She also has total control over Mjolnir, allowing her to command lightning and many other cosmic-level weather-based powers associated with it. In fact, she is able to bond with the hammer like the Odinson never could.
As a mortal, Jane Foster battles cancer, but as the Mighty Thor, she takes on enemies old and new. She fights Malekith the Accursed, the Minotaur, Absorbing Man, the Destroyer, Silver Samurai and many other enemies. She even went toe-to-toe with Odin himself at one point. Thor goes on to join the All-New All Different Avengers, as well. Jane shows that there is more than one way to be a hero and a warrior.
Glory was the creation of Rob Liefeld, debuting in “Youngblood Strikefile” #1 in 1993. She was created as a pastiche of Wonder Woman with an origin that closely mirrored DC's resident Amazon badass. Glorianna Demeter is actually a half-Amazon, half-Demon child who was raised by her mother with the Amazonian people and has been trained in all forms of combat; however, her demon blood provides her with uncontrollable violent urges. Her powers include super strength, invulnerability, teleportation and near-immortality.
In 2011, Glory’s original series was continued with #23 by Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell. Her origin was retooled to that of an alien hybrid and she was presented as a giant, hulking albino warrior covered in scars. Glory was far more monstrous and brutal than she had ever been depicted before in her new form, and shows just how fierce of a warrior she could be by taking on many dangerous threats with her sword and her bear hands.
Perhaps one of the greatest warriors -- male or female -- ever created, Zealot is a centuries-old member of the alien race known as the Kherubim. After becoming stranded on Earth, she went on to found an entire sisterhood of warriors known as the Coda. In modern day, she takes on the name Lucy Blaze and becomes a superhero as a member of the WildC.A.T.s. She was created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi as part of the Wildstorm Universe in 1992, and she has gone on to become one of the most beloved (and absolutely savage) female warriors ever.
As Zealot, she possesses superhuman strength, invulnerability, healing and near-immortality. She also has centuries of combat experience, making her an expert with any weapon, and she has some limited ability to use magic. How dangerous a warrior is Zealot? Well, in 2008’s “DC/Wildstorm: Dreamwar,” she defeated Batman in combat before ultimately killing him (it’s ok, it was all a dream).
3 BIG BARDA
Created by the great Jack Kirby for “Mister Miracle” #4 in 1971, Big Barda was a break from the conventional stereotypes of women in comic books. She was bigger, stronger and more violent than her husband Mister Miracle, who she often protected. Growing up as a child on Apokolips, Barda was trained by Granny Goodness to become the leader of the Female Furies. After falling in love with Scott Free, she escaped from Darkseid’s clutches and the two started a life together on Earth.
As a New God, she is gifted with super strength, invulnerability, speed and longevity. She is a master of all weapons but prefers the use of her powerful Mega-Rod. When Mister Miracle joined Justice League International, Barda served as the team’s fighting instructor. She eventually goes on to join the Justice League in her own right during Grant Morrison’s run on “JLA.” Big Barda has proven time and time again that she is one of the toughest warriors in the universe.
2 WONDER WOMAN
Perhaps the most prominent superheroine ever created, to many, Wonder Woman is known as an ambassador of goodwill, peace and love. However, she has also come to be known as a fierce warrior and dangerous combatant over the years. Created by William Moulton Marston in 1941 and debuting in “All Star Comics” #8, Wonder Woman has seen many interpretations in her 75+ years of history. Throughout her existence, though, she has always been shown to possesses superhuman strength, speed, invulnerability and the ability to fly.
Trained by the Amazons of Themyscira, Diana is extremely gifted in hand-to-hand combat. Her Lasso of Truth, bracelets and various weapons make her even more dangerous of an opponent. If you see her girded for war in her battle armor, look out! She was a founding member of the Justice League of America and has engaged in battle against many heroes and villains, standing up against Superman, besting Batman and killing Maxwell Lord by snapping his neck. Unlike her teammates, Diana doesn’t shy away from killing.
1 RED SONJA
The fiercest warrior woman in all of comics has to be Red Sonja because she does it all without any superhuman abilities. Creators Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith introduced her in “Conan the Barbarian” #23 in 1973 as an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya of Rogatino character. The She-Devil with a Sword went on to see great success with only a weapon in her hand and an ability to defeat any man with her own physical abilities.
As a teenager, her family was brutally murdered by a group of mercenaries. In some versions of the story, she gains incredible fighting skills from the goddess Scathach; in others, she trains to take her revenge against the killers. On more than one occasion, she has proven to be a superior fighter to even Conan himself. No matter how she does it, Red Sonja remains one of the most intimidating forces in the fantasy and/or comics genre.
Which woman warrior do you think is the fiercest? Let us know in the comments!