As a VERY dedicated Marvel fangirl I may be a little bit biased here… but I personally think the Marvel Universe has some of the best, strong, sassy, badass heroines in recent years. It’s for that reason that I may be a bit too excited about this installment of Women in Comics, and I can’t wait any longer to share this list with you, so let’s get right to it!
Captain Marvel – Carol Danvers
I don’t know how I’m going to keep this short, as I’m a bit of a Captain Marvel fanatic (I mean, I have a Captain Marvel decal on my car), but I’ll try my best!
In 2012, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Marvel brought back Carol Danvers in a big way – as Captain Marvel. Finally, a badass female character not defined by her body or her costume, but defined by her strength of character. Carol is strong in every sense of the word, a born leader (She’s a former U.S. Air Force Colonel), and as sassy and sarcastic as they come. She’s not afraid to be a nerd (her cat/Flerken is named Chewie), or stand up to injustice, and even when faced with serious health problems that could kill her… she doesn’t hesitate to risk her life to save people. Carol Danvers is the female superhero I and many others wish they had growing up. She’s not meant to be eye-candy, she’s meant to be a woman we can identify with, one with hobbies, interests, a life and that’s exactly what Kelly Sue has given us with Captain Marvel. If there’s one female-lead superhero comic you absolutely need to be reading, it’s this, starting with Kelly Sue’s first run in 2012.
Ms. Marvel – Kamala Khan
Kamala Khan is just a (somewhat) normal nerdy, Muslim teenage girl; until one night she sneaks out and ends up exposed to the Terrigen Mist. The mist uncovers her Inhuman genes – giving her shape-shifting abilities. Under the title Ms. Marvel (a name taken from her hero Carol Danvers who is now Captain Marvel), Kamala begins to learn how to use her new-found abilities to help protect the city she loves and calls home – New Jersey.
There are countless reasons to fall in love with Kamala Khan. Kamala brings a refreshing diversity to the Marvel Universe as a Pakistani-American teenager struggling to balance her faith, being a teenager, and her new-found abilities. But while this is, in many ways, a coming of age story at its core, that’s not all Kamala is. Kamala is relatable, something we often lose with the fanciful nature of most superhero universes. I mean come on, when we first meet Kamala, we see her sitting in her room, at her computer, writing Avengers fan-fiction…. we’re all geeks here, we KNOW what it’s like to be consumed by geek culture, so what’s more relatable than that?! From the beginning Kamala is put on the same level as all of us fangirls (and guys) – we connect with her and that’s probably the most important thing about Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, and the biggest reason why she’s such an important heroine. You need to be reading Ms. Marvel, trust me!
The Women of the X-Men
While the X-Men have had their ups and downs when it comes to their female members, we’ve been seeing Marvel develop some of their better known female X-Men more and more over the last few years. Finally some of the more diverse female characters of the Marvel U are getting the attention they deserve.
Storm was always a mystery, her origins being merely hinted at in most of the X-Men story lines. But finally, with her own stand-alone series on top of being the leader of the upcoming Extraordinary X-Men, we’re getting the backstory and depth to her character that was much needed, given her importance to the X-Men.
Kitty Pryde has always been a pretty strong female character, however it’s been in recent years with the Astonishing X-Men and All-New X-Men that she’s really been able to shine. In both of these series we are able to see her develop as a character; she has relationships, she’s a professor at Xavier Institute, she sacrificed herself to save the planet and overall she’s been developing into a character that, if nothing else, is extremely relatable for young women. Oh and if that’s not enough, she did this (don’t click if squeamish), which may be my favourite scene from a comic book ever.
These two are definitely not the only awesome females in the X-Men, there are countless others: Scarlet Witch (who needs a post all to herself), Emma Frost, Jean Grey, Rogue, Psylocke, Jubilee, and Dazzler to name a few. The X-Men story lines can be a huge undertaking, but there are a lot of female characters to relate to.
Black Widow – Natasha Romanova
Do I even need to explain why Black Widow is great? Have you seen the Avengers?!
Trained from a young age to be a Russian spy, Natasha relies on her training in hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, and acrobatics. She’s not “super” in the sense that she possesses mystical abilities (making her more of a badass in my opinion) – she’s highly trained, and highly skilled. Both a member of the Avengers and a member of S.H.E.I.L.D, Natasha has proven over and over again that women can be strong, and hold their own alongside even the strongest enemies. She is the furthest thing from a damsel in distress, in fact, she’s often the one saving them.
Check out the Black Widow series as a great starting point.
She-Hulk – Jennifer Walters
Cousin of Bruce Banner, Jennifer is a force to be reckoned with. Having the ability to change form at will (usually), unlike Bruce, Jennifer is better able to control her temper in hulk form and maintains her astonishing intellect as well. Recently, she’s become the lead in her own series as well as being the women-in-charge in the A-Force. She’s a high-powered lawyer (I wish I could look that good in a power-suit) and an Avenger, proving that women in comics can be strong, smart, and have a day job. She-Hulk is a much different take on the usual superhero/heroine story, introducing us to her real life first, and superhero stunts second.
The list of awesome ladies in Marvel comics is much longer, but if you’re looking to start reading about kickass superwomen, this is where to start. Don’t forget to check out AJ-Archer’s Geek 101: Wasp , and Miss America for more in-depth character intros.
Don’t fret DC fans, I’ll be covering Women in DC comics in the next post! Until then, thanks for all the great feedback on this feature, and let me know in the comments who your favourite female Marvel character is!