Comics and women have been a favorite subject of mine for a good long while now. Just today I noticed however that I’ve been mostly sharing and commenting on the bad aspects which is strange because most of the actual time I spend with comics I spend enjoying them. So to start evening the score, here are some of my favorite women from comics in no particular order.
The psychic woman is sometimes a supervillain and sometimes a superhero but she’s always bad ass. Besides her considerable psychic powers she can also turn her skin into diamond. This makes her one of the only superheroes with a solid character reason for the skimpy clothing she wears. It has long been a pet peeve of mine that the effect is dampened by everyone else wearing the same kind of thing. And speaking of skimpy clothing, Emma is also pretty much the only character ever who understands the concept of the male gaze and even though her writers don’t always know it, they still manage to write her using it to her benefit.
Tambi is quite literally a strong female character. She’s tall with a bodybuilder physique, an assassin’s attitude and enough brains to act as her own agent in the middle of a mob war. But she’s also tender and loyal to the people she cares about. All while also being incredibly vulnerable, subtle and mentally wounded. While the series (Strangers in Paradise) is full of awesome women, there’s something enchanting about a full woman built like a bodybuilder.
As an aside I should note that Tambi does have an identical twin sister, Bambi, but she’s nowhere near as cool as her sister, even though outwardly they’re identical.
You must have known this was coming. The Girl Genius is one of my all-time favorite comic characters and by far the one I identify most with. She’s the geeky girl with the weird and sometimes creepy ideas who loves science and tinkering with things. She’s sought after by handsome men, two of whom are almost equally geeky and capable. Almost being the operative word. While both Gil and Tarvek are sparks in their own right, neither of them seems to be quite as strong as Agatha. But they all keep saving each other’s hides all the time as well as their cast of hang-arounds. She’s also sensible and doesn’t go all helpless and googly-eyed when there’s work that needs to be done.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that the whole series has been drawn with a gorgeous Steampunk sensibility and is full of action and adventure. And then there’s always her incredible fashion sense.
Although not the first to put on the Batgirl cowl, Barbara Gordon is by far the most iconic. The daughter of Commissioner Gordon she was by no means a stranger to danger when she decided to don the costume. She was also the first of the female Bats to be a crime fighter in her own right, not just a ragdoll to be thrown around by the villains and rescued by Batman.
While Barbara’s crippling injury in The Killing Joke is a textbook example of the refrigeration of female characters in comics, she was simply too popular to stay down and became the first ever (to my knowledge) permanently crippled superhero, starting to appear as the Oracle and she was still bad ass, even in a wheel chair. With the reboot of the continuity in the New 52 a lot of people were afraid that her injuries would be invalidated but in Gail Simone’s capable hands Batgirl rose to both critical and commercial success while becoming a deeper character who was both struggling and somewhat elated about her sudden return to the costume.
As an aside, I just noticed that most of these women are blonde as am I (Babs is a redhead like I’d like to be). I may need to do some soul searching about this. Maybe they formed me much more than I previously suspected. There’s a scary thought.