Recently we have seen the first pictures from the Captain Marvel movie set, hinting at what is to come. Not too long ago the world was treated to a wonderful Wonder Woman movie, no pun intended. The women of comics are finally coming into their own and getting the treatments they deserve, unlike the portrayal of Catwoman by Halle Berry from the early 2000s. In celebration of this long overdue evolution of Hollywood film and cinema culture, here is a list of the TOP 9 Women in comics today. This list has some of the old traditionals, some of the new stars, and one or two that hold promise for the future.
#9 Storm (Marvel)
Storm is a very fascinating character that has been used in a large variety of ways, some good, some not so good, but always changing with the times. Storm, born Ororo Monroe, comes from a long and ancient line of priestesses all of which have white hair. She is also the first woman of African descent to be written into comics. At only six months old her parents were killed in their Egyptian home by a plane crash. Trapped in the rubble near her mother, Ororo developed an acute case of claustrophobia that would haunt her the rest of her days. Ororo would eventually be recruited by Charles Xavier to join his team of X-Men where she became known as Storm. Over time she would actually take leadership of the X-Men.
One of her biggest story arcs takes place the early 80’s in Uncanny X-Men #170. When a teammate is captured, Storm must embark on a daring rescue mission, and in the course of events, defeats the leader of a mal-formed group of mutants called the Morlocks. Three issues later, Storm would reveal her new punk look of black leathers and mohawk.
In 2006, Storm would marry Black Panther in Black Panther #18. Unfortunately, in Avengers vs X-Men #9, T’Challa reveals the marriage was annulled after only a few years, due to the fact that the two were constantly separated.
Storm has gone through many teams, both X-Men and otherwise. Her appearance always seem to change with her affiliations. No matter who she is paired with, Storm brings a very strong female presence and good story arcs. Any comic with Storm is guaranteed to be entertaining.
#8 Lois Lane (DC)
One would think to be relevant woman in comics, you would need to have super powers, but this is simply not the case for #8 on our list. One of the most influential women in the DC universe has no powers at all, Lois Lane. Lois works for the Daily Planet as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. She possesses a rough and tough attitude, with a single-minded determination to get to the source of the story…and her next Pulitzer.
Not much is known of Lois’ origins. Her first appearance was in 1938 in Action Comics #1. She started as a farmer’s daughter, but later would be revamped into a military brat whose father was a General. Overall, her personal background rarely comes up.
Her biggest story arc, that would forever change her life, would of course be Superman. They would have on-again, erased again, on again, off again relationships. For a while they would even be married with a son. Her greatest heartbreak would come during the events of Superman #75 when Superman was killed in his fight with Doomsday.
Lois adventures varied greatly throughout the generations of DC Comics and has even occasionally gained super powers through some form or another over the years. As early as May of ’43, Lois was Superwoman for a time. In 2012 her consciousness was downloaded into Red Tornado. She has also been a Lantern, Ultra Girl and others depending on the dimension and Earth copy.
In the end it always comes back to her and Superman. In her best stories she’s trying to figure out Superman and his identity, even as he stands there right in front of her as Clark Kent.
#7 Black Widow
One amongst many names, Natasha Romanov, is a comic character that has had two lives, a comic existence, and a movie existence. Most people will know Black Widow from the Marvel movies where, while beautiful and mesmerizing, has been simplified from her comic past. On screen she is one of the world’s greatest secret agents and extractors of information.
While her skills in combat and interrogation remain consistent in comics and film alike, her comic persona is less, how shall we say, good. She first appeared in 1964 in the comic Tales of Suspense #52. In the comics she started as a Russian agent, but due to her infatuation with Hawkeye and Soviet disapproval of their relationship, she and Hawkeye end up seeking to join the Avengers in Avengers #12. Over the years her allegiances went from team to team and caused many ins and outs with the Avengers. During events in Civil War, Natasha would even assume leadership of SHIELD under the presumption Fury was dead and Maria Hill was incapacitated. No matter which way she is pointing her talents, her stories will usually be complex and intriguing.
Who said all the great women of comics had to be good? While she may be the only woman of questionable character on the list, Selina Kyle represents one of many women in comics that don’t play nice with others. Where Catwoman differs from her other evil compatriots is that she does have lines she will not cross, unless absolutely necessary.
Created in 1940 (Batman #1), Bob Kane introduced Selina Kyle as the love nemesis to Batman. Their love, and hate, would last throughout the decades. In the Knightfall storyline, Selina was one of the first outsiders to realize whoever wore the bat-suit – it wasn’t Bruce. It wasn’t until 1993 that Catwoman received her own title.
Selina Kyle steals to serve her purposes, but prefers to hurt only bad guys when needed. She knows how to work in the underworld very well but would rather not see innocents hurt. This light and dark lifestyle is part of what makes her so attractive to not only the reader, but Batman himself. Their on again, off again relationship goes where need and desire takes each of them. It is the tightrope walk between of good and evil that makes Catwoman one of the most interesting reads in comics. In fact, in Batman #50 Selina and Bruce were set to get married. Sadly, superheroes never get happy endings. She has just recently started her own title again, so if you are interested in her, now is the time to check her title out.
#5 Witchblade (Top Cow/Image)
This is one of only two titles that are not from the two major power houses (Marvel/DC). It ran for ten years and 185 issues. Sara Pezzini is a cop with the NYPD homicide unit. During a case, Sara is mortally wounded and near death until a special gauntlet, that bonds only with a chosen female, turns her into the Witchblade.
The Witchblade gave Sara super natural powers, sword-like hands when called upon, and covered her body with “well-placed” armor when her street clothes tore. A brilliantly drawn and colored comic when it first came out, Witchblade dazzled with the minimally covered Sara, while telling very strong stories about good vs evil and the shades of gray that lie between them. The story telling was amazing. The title has picked up recently and is less than ten issues old. While not as impressive in regards to artwork, and doubts of the modern story, it is still worth the read. There has also been an anime and live action tv show, but both lacked the quality of the comic. I would highly recommend tracking the older issues down. It is definitely worth your time.
#4 Wonder Woman (DC)
One of the true greats of all comics, Diana Prince has been one of the greats for decades. After all, she has been around since 1941. Her outfits have changed, her looks have changed, her backstory has changed, but she has always been one of the most noted of all super heroines and has been well loved throughout the years by readers, men and women alike, causing her to rise to become one of DC’s great trinity, along side Superman and Batman.
Her first appearance was in All Star Comics #8 back in 1941. Also known as Diana Prince, she is one of the mythical Amazons, a breed of warrior women from Greek mythology. She began by fighting Nazis in WWII but would later gain a rogues gallery of mostly Greek origins.
She fought largely on her own until the 70s when should would be one of the founding members of the Justice League. She would take on many roles and outfits over the decades, but sales began to slip and by 1986 we had the year without Wonder Woman.
In 1985 came the Crisis on Infinite Earths story line. This would revamp the DC Universe and help to reorganize and streamline all the differentiating back stories for all heroes. Wonder Woman was recreated and brought back as an emissary from Themyscira.
One of her most unique qualities as a hero is the combination of raw strength, that can go toe to toe with Superman, woven in with vulnerability and love, that causes her to often try to look at others wrong doings with compassion. At times this has left deep scars, not on her body, but her soul. Her current title run, as well as the movie, did a magnificent job of using the two traits to define her character and as a result has become the heart of the DC family.
#3 Rogue (Marvel)
Rogue, one of Professor X’s X-Men, is a great character with almost Shakespearean tragedy to her story. She first appeared in 1981 in Avengers Annual #10 as a villain, but would eventually join the X-Men.
Born Anna Marie from Mississippi, Rogue started out as a normal girl until her mutant powers emerged. Rogue has the power to absorb others powers and abilities simply by touching them skin to skin. Sadly, they emerged when she kisses her boyfriend, Cody. As a result, Cody went into a coma for the rest of his life.
Rogue ran away from her home and wandered the country where she was adopted by Mystique and joined the Brotherhood. Her powers were limited and lasted only a short time until her attack on Ms. Marvel. In Avengers Annual #10, Rogue attacks and absorbs Ms. Marvel’s powers permanently. This gave Rogue the powers of flight and super strength, making her a formidable mutant.
While absorbing abilities, she also absorbs part of the personality of every person she touches, which leads to mental health issues. Problems with the personalities she has absorbed brings her to Professor Xavier and later a role with the X-Men. In fact, Rogue’s battle with the Ms Marvel Persona she absorbed haunts her for some time, causing many issues.
In the 80’s she was extremely popular, as was her relationship with Gambit. It is her inability to have full relationships that is Rogue’s main internal conflict. She can love but never touch. Between her brute powers and fragile interior, Rogue is a fascinating character to follow.
#2 Maika Halfwolf (Image)
This is a heroine few will know. She is from a title called Monstrous from Image Comics. Maika is a teenager in a world devastated by a war between Humans and magical beings. Maika’s lineage is known only to a few, Maika not being one of them. Maika has lost an arm, but possesses more power than she could imagine, or wish for. The demon inside her has its own interests at heart, not hers. This causes Maika to walk back and forth between the two worlds and solve the puzzle that is her existence, and that of the demon. The artwork is incredible and the story telling is quite complex. Maika has a strength that gets her through problems, as well as creates them. She keeps friends at a distance and has the spunk and independence to tell royalty, or her demon, to F*** off. Maika’s journey is a great tale at its beginning.
#1 Batwoman (DC)
One of the newer additions to the comic world, Batwoman is a character rapidly growing in popularity. Batwoman was first created in 1956, but it would not be until 2006 that she resurfaces and would become her own character.
Established characters usually stay as they were created, but being that Batwoman was a character that was introduced in 1956, and has seen sparing, if any, use, she is a character that was ripe for reinventing. Kate Kane was resurrected in 2006 from obscurity, but to keep up with the times, DC made a choice to make her love interest a woman, rather than the obvious choice of Batman. She has gone on to represent the gay community and her book has seen growing popularity.
In fact, she will show up this year in the CW’s Arrowverse on television with a possible spin-off on the way. This is what happens when creators take the time to fashion new characters instead of trying to rework existing expectations. Kate Kane has secured her spot in the Batman universe.
Overall, Women in comics can be just as, if not more, entertaining then the stereotypical muscle head in tights and a cape. They offer a complex, multilayered character, that does not only deal in the forces of good vs evil, but also battles the daily challenges of being a woman in a man’s world. We are excited to see more Female comic book characters come to the forefront, and look forward to more lead roles in amazing Hollywood films to come.