Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
I love comics with strong well written female leads. There are actually a lot of them out there. Not just the big names like Wonder Woman and Jessica Jones but a lot of really good independent comics with female rolemodels too. Who do I think is the best female comic book carachter? My answer might change from one day to another. So I am not even going to try to put them in order of preference. All these ladies deserve to be on this list. I am not going to rate them once they got here.
Before I get to the list however let address this question, is sexy a legitimate character trait in a female comic book character? My answer is yes, in the same ways it can be part of the DNA of male characters, like James Bond, Captain Jack Harkness or even Batman. The important part is that, it is not the only, or most dominant characteristic in a heroine. That is why female characters like Lady Death and Cherry Poptart are not on this list.
Comic books are visual medium, so that a female is drawn attractively should not be a surprise, but if she doesn’t have anything more than a well drawn body, it is a waste of ink. A good attractive character needs to be more than just well drawn to be interesting, she needs a personality, a back story and a compelling supporting cast.
Carrie Stetko: The best writer of female comic book characters with a XY chromosome is Greg Rucka. His first female comic book character was Marshal Stetko. She is the protagonist of the White Out and White Out II: Melt. White Out is the story of the first murder in Antarctica. She is a cop, who under international law cannot poses a gun in her jurisdiction. How tough is Carrie. She lost her thumb and two fore fingers on her right hand, and she stayed on the job. Between the two stories she gained an encyclopedic knowledge of Antarctica. She is literally banished to the South Pole because of mistakes made by her superiors, but she never quits. She is plagued by the memory of a husband she could not save from cancer. She is literally the most competent law enforcement officer on an entire continent, but people are more interested in her sexuality than her ability to get the job done.
In the movie White Out the character is really watered down. Played by Kate Beckinsale, she carries a gun in the movie, but when a man comes after her with an ice ax, she seemingly forgets about it and flees from him. In the comic book she’s not legally allowed to have a gun, so it makes since she retreats. Instead of the most used fingers on her right hand, in the movie she loses, her left pinky, and ring finger, the least used ones. Physically frumpy but psychologically sexy in the comics, Carrie is played by gorgeous Kate, and her investigative partner is changed form a woman to a man, erasing the possible lesbian subtext, more importantly the script changed her form the ultimate cop to a scared girlfriend.
In the comics Carrie is sexy but not drawn this way. This makes her a powerful character. Her toughness, intelligence and sense of duty makes her attractive. I had to have someone point out that she wasn’t really that physically attractive to me. It doesn’t matter because I love this girl who is both good cop and bad cop in one body.
Silver Sable. Back in the 80’s when I first got into comics, I got a bunch of Silver Sables for a quarter a piece. She is the daughter of Ernst Sabolinova, a famed Nazi hunter from the Balklin nation Symkaria. She inherited her father’s mercenary team the Wild Pack. As Nazi’s numbers began to shrink, she focused her team on super powered criminals. An amazing warrior she is also a diplomat who engaged in covert negotiations with Dr. Doom.
Silver S is a gorgeous heroine, but one of the things that always attracted me to her was that she seemed to be above romance and the desires of the flesh. Yes she was once married to the villain Foreigner (maybe this turned her off from relationships), She once kissed Spiderman, as a reward for saving her countrymen form an explosion, and in a What If…? She even married the web slinger, but Miss Silver, doesn’t have the many notches on her bed post that many Marvel heroines do. She is like Athena the virgin goddess of strategy, she has a mission which is more important than her physical pleasure.
Recently a Silver Sable and Black Cat movie has been announced. Apologizes to all those Felicia Hardy fans out there, but Black Cat has always seem a Cat Woman clone to me. Depending on the script, though this might be very good. The consummate warrior teams up with ultimate cat burglar. I just hope the writers stay true to Sable’s character.
Laureline. Laureline is the female protagonist form the French comic book Valerian and Laureline. The series ran from 1967 to 2010. She was a French peasant girl who was rescued by time traveler Valerian and is trained to become a full-fledged temporal-spacio agent. Writer Pierre Christian created the name in 1967, Laureline because it sounded like a medieval French name. It is now a rather common female French name.
Originally Laureline was mainly a plot devise, since she was from the past, and Valerian often needed to explain to her and us the readers the world of the future. She however grew as a character and not only proved herself more capable than her male partner, she became the heart and soul of the story. In fact when they actually become a couple Laureline does not begin to degrade as a character, but grows to the point she even eclipses the male lead. If anything with time Valerian begins to diminish becoming more luggish and stereotypical male, as Laureline becomes more interesting and complex.
American writers should take lesions on how to write a realistic relationship in a comic book. Where Ultimate Avengers has Black widow and Ironman making a sex tape. Chritian and artists Jean-Claude Mizieres tell a much better and romantic story with the couple holding hands in a briefing.
Miss Miniver Of all the women on this list MM is unique because she is based on a real person, one who I have personly met. Miss Miniver is the comic book version of cosplayer Miss Miniver. She is an original character that is based on MM’s passion for comics. If you spend any time with her you realize how passionate she is about her loves, comic books, Star Wars, her job at a museum and geek life in general. This is all synthesized in to her own comic book.
Her comic is set in an alternative Seattle, where people can have a talking air breathing octopus for a best friend. Where park venders sell not snacks but the newest and greatest comic books out of their carts. Where Buddha like eccentrics give life advice under a tree. The last few pages are full of helpful; hints on cosplaying and convention attending. (Like Sunday is the day with most children in attendance so it the best day to wear your family friendly cosplay.)
I am excited that Issue Two is out and plan to pick it up next month at Rose City Comi-Con. I love her book, but like all issues ones, it has to be an origin story, introducing us not only to Miss Miniver, but also to her world. She promises the new issue will be more story driven, and I can’t wait to read it.
Dr. Aphra. What do you get when you combine Boba Fett and Indiana Jones? You get Dr. Aphra. The first non-movie character to get her own title in Marvel’s new Star Wars line. You know how Han Solo is a scoundrel who ends up doing what is right. Aphra is this boosted up to 11!
How do you know I love something? I name a goat after it. Well here meet Dr. Aphra of GetFooLA farms.
Aphra is an archeologist and computer genius, whose mother was killed when she was young and her father was out hunting archeological artifacts. She is now out to make it rich hunting treasures across the galaxy. On occasion she has had to take a job from no other than Darth Vader. She has done some evil things kidnapped Luke Skywalker, and killed Padame’s mortician after she proved that the queen gave birth before she died. But in the end she usually ends up doing what is right. If not out of guilt for self preservation.
The thing I love about Aphra is she looks like a real woman. She isn’t all curvy, buxom and blonde. She has dark skin and is an Epicanthix (Star wars versions of Asians). She is attractive not just because she is drawn that way, but because she is a bad ass.