My 6 Favorite Female Comic Book Characters
Once upon a time, back when I started this blog, one of my first Lists of Six was of my favorite comic book characters of all time. The list is all men, in large part because I settled on my list of favorites back when I was a kid, and Young Sean wasn’t all that interested in female characters. Or facial hair. I didn’t like characters with mustaches for some reason.
So in honor of Women’s History Month, I want to talk about my six favorite female comic book characters.
This is a purely personal list. These are the characters I enjoy reading about, characters whose existence alone will almost guarantee I take a look at a comic. I love seeing them pop up in cartoons and movies. And I’m usually excited to see how their characters grow and change. We all have our favorite characters for one reason or another, and these are some of mine.
Join me after the jump!
6. Star Sapphire
Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have given two shakes of a puppy dog’s tail about Star Sapphire. Not only did I not read Green Lantern comics, but I didn’t know anything about the character or the world. Then along came a little something called the Sinestro Corps War, and suddenly I had a whole new corner of the universe to dive into. I love everything about writer Geoff Johns’ expanded GL universe. I love the multi-colored Lanterns. I love the emotion-based color wheel. I love the different factions. And I especially love the way Johns used existing GL continuity and history to create these stories. That meant taking the Star Sapphire, an old GL villain from way back, and turning her into this new, empowered, expanded character.
Carol Ferris goes from being GL’s girlfriend and sometimes adversary to a hero in her own right, with her own back story, powers, and army. Suddenly, Star Sapphire was a player in the big game in a way she had never been before. Unfortunately, it’s been awhile since I’ve read a Green Lantern comic. But I think I’m going to try to dive back in during the new Rebirth, and I hope to see Star Sapphire in a prominent role.
Joystick is all about the 90s. She debuted back in that glorious decade in a crossover between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin comic, which was my favorite comic at the time. Green Goblin had a lot of neat adversaries, but Joystick stood out, because who doesn’t love video games? There just aren’t many video game-themed comic book characters, and if there are, they usually depend on the same stereotypes or cliches. Joystick is different. She embraces the theme, but does speak in L33T speak or any other nonsense like that. She’s not always making video game puns. She doesn’t trap her enemies in video game worlds. She’s just a badass fighter and gamer. Which is what we’d all be, if we suddenly became fighters, amiright?
Superheroes don’t get much more badass than Batwoman! Created to prove that DC Comics was more diverse, Batwoman quickly became one of the hottest, most exciting superheroes on the stands. Kate Kane is a former soldier who was discharged thanks to ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’, and she put her training to damn good use as a hard-hitting vigilante on the streets of Gotham. Her stories came to florid life thanks to artist J.H. Williams III, who gave her a look unlike anything else in comics. She was a new vigilante for a new world, while maintaining the same kickass Bat-style. Plus, her costume is just plain cool.
Marrow is probably my favorite female X-Person, and it all stems from X-Men #70 in 1997. I wasn’t reading comics regularly at the time, but I happened to pick up that issue and loved the heck out of it. X-Men #70 was a transitional issue that tied off several separate storylines that had been going on for the past year, and saw several different X-Men squads reuniting at the X-Mansion, with several new members in tow. Marrow was one of these new members, and considering I, too, was newish to X-Men comics, she quickly became one of my favorites. This was at a time when membership in the X-Men wasn’t so up in the air and varied, this was when membership meant something. So I also liked her new member vibe.
Marrow is a harsh, angry young woman who has struggled through most of her life. Her mutant power is to have her bones grow out through her skin, which is incredibly painful. This gave Marrow a permanent chip on her shoulder, as well as a readily available arsenal of weapons, since she can break off the bones and use them as clubs and swords. She was cool, but troubled, and I loved reading her story as she struggled to put aside her anger and join the friendly family of the X-Men. Marrow’s comic book life has been all over the place, both before and after she was a member of the X-Men, but she’ll always have a fan in me.
2. Ms. Marvel
Consider me firmly on board the Kamala Khan popularity train. I knew she’d be interesting the moment they announced her, and her series has lived up to any possible hype, and more. Kamala Khan is this generation’s Peter Parker, and I hope she has that kind of staying power. Kamala is funny and adorable in that awkward teen superhero kind of way, and she’s got more heart than ten people. Her comic has consistently remained one of the best on the shelf, and she’s already proving she has the power to appear in the Avengers and other comics.
Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American Muslim girl living with her family in Jersey City. Writer G. Willow Wilson shares many similarities with Kamala’s life, and that insight has made Ms. Marvel a standout comic, exploring a world and a lifestyle that I know nothing about, but am eager to learn. I’m not as excited about the fact that Kamala is an Inhuman, and is therefore part of Marvel’s Cold War of Inhumans vs. Mutants, but she has clearly risen above all of that. Also, her stretchy powers still seem kind of random…but that hardly matters. Kamala is as fun as they come, and I hope she’s here to stay.
1. Renee Montoya
We first met Renee Montoya on Batman: The Animated Series, a cartoon I watched religiously in the 90s. But I never had much interest in the tough-as-nails cop, not when I could be watching Batman and Robin. But I started reading DC Comics right about the time that writer Greg Rucka and others decided to turn Montoya into one of the deepest, most interesting characters in their roster. I got on board just as DC started Montoya on a journey from officer to superhero, across multiple comics and multiple years. It was a truly fascinating story, with a steady hand at the till to keep Montoya’s story resonating.
Montoya started out as a detective in Gotham City, investigating the crimes that Batman hadn’t gotten around to solving yet. One of her best stories was when Montoya was forcibly outed as a lesbian, and she had to stick up for her lifestyle at a time when that still wasn’t commonplace. The comic, Gotham Central, is one of the best ever published, and Montoya was right at the heart of it.
But when she quit the force following the death of her partner (and the unfair system that protected his killer), Montoya’s story continued in the weekly series 52. DC took great care with Montoya, telling a year-long story of how she went from being a drunken mess to cleaning up her act and becoming the new Question. That was an amazing comic, and further painted Montoya as a flawed but powerful character.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get much time with Montoya as the Question before the New 52 came along and made her disappear (she has since returned, back to being a cop). But Renee Montoya made a huge impact on my love of comics, and I hope, someday, she can go back to kicking ass again.