One of my readers, Eric, asked me who my favorite female characters are. Good question! I do enjoy female characters, and not just for the cheesecake factor. There are a lot of wonderful women in comics I admire. I’ll highlight a few, and let me point out that I don’t come at this from any kind of political or feminine point of view. I realize there are a lot of faults with the way some of these characters are handled from a feminist point of view. These opinions are simply my own. I’d love to hear from some female readers to learn more about their views on the portrayal of women in comics (hint hint).
Barbara Gordon â€“ I’ll lead off with the former Batgirl. In many ways, she’s a formidable opponent whom I, if I were a DCU villain, would think twice about getting on her bad side. Raised in a police household and trained by the Batman, she’s razor sharp, extremely smart and quite capable of holding her own in a fight, especially with her unusual fighting style adapted for her paralysis. Why do I like her? Because I like characters who fight to get where they are. People who have everything handed to them I can’t really relate to. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today, and so has Barbara. She might not be that interesting to me if she wasn’t shot by the Joker. The Killing Joke really opened my eyes to what comics could be. And I know, it wasn’t Barbara’s finest moment, but from there on I was interested. She never gave up. She stayed positive for both Jim Gordon and herself. She dedicated herself to becoming a computer whiz and a capable fighter despite what the Joker did to her. And now she’s invaluable to the DC hero community. Gail Simone had a tremendous run on the Birds of Prey book, and Tony Bedard has been fun so far. The way he handled the Oracle versus The Calculator showdown brought a few chuckles out of me. I’d like to see more of Barbara as a woman. Her relationship issues with Dick Grayson seemed to be passed over fairly quickly (One Year Later effect or did I just miss it?) and the lack of Ted Kord or other down-to-earth love interests kinda makes Miss Gordon seem all work and no play. Hmmm…if I was playing matchmaker, who could I hook Barbara up with? Well, I can tell you who it WON’T be: Kyle Rayner. If she dated Rayner she’d end up stuffed in a fridge somewhere and Kyle would just whine about it.
Manhunter â€“ I get a kick out of Kate. And it’s really almost as simple as that. I always like the X-cutioner from X-Men with his hodgepodge armor and weapons, and Kate’s modified Darkstar costume has that â€œdo-it-yourselfâ€ quality to it. She’s a pretty â€œnormalâ€ person for someone who puts on a costume and fights supervillains. She’s a single mother, a prosecuting attorney (unless Wonder Woman needs her for the defense) and a suffering California smoker. Kate’s not one of those characters who has power thrust upon her or is born and bred to be a warrior. I enjoy the very real vigilante vibe â€“ she got tired of watching criminals walk out of the justice system’s revolving door and took it upon herself to do something about it. Unlike Marvel’s Punisher, she didn’t really have any formal training as a soldier and certainly had no plan before jumping into her vigilante side career. This is going to sound sick and perhaps reflect poorly on me, but I thought Marc Andreyko hit a home run when he had Kate’s son Ramsey find her power staff while she was in another room. Ramsey just about blew himself up. I know, it’s every parent’s nightmare, but that why it worked as a story. You can go online almost every day and find an article about kids who hurt or killed themselves or others after finding an unsecured weapon in the house. As a bonus, Marc gives me my only dose of Cameron Chase. Another female character, she almost seems to be a â€œblack widowâ€ in that every comic she appears in seems to be canceled soon thereafter. But I like her, too. Her own book was way too short lived.
Marvel’s female characters, for some reason, don’t grab me quite as much. I read She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel, but I wouldn’t call either my favorites. She-Hulk is a great read, but I think I enjoy it mostly because Dan Slott’s humor is similar to mine and he uses a lot of â€œlower tierâ€ characters. Ms. Marvel is interesting because she’s flawed. She’s got a variety of personal problems, a frustrated love life and a wildly varied back story. I always liked the Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman, the one in the black costume, but I don’t have any particularly deep reason for that. She too is driven more to protect her daughter than to play in the silly spandex games all the time. I actually like Sue Storm in the comics better than on screen, which shocks me to no end. I just think Jessica Ritter…um, oops…Alba just weird as a blonde. But Sue, after years of being Reed’s trophy wife, seems to finally be developing some independence. She was easily one of the more interesting subplots of the “Civil War” storyline, and maybe someday she’ll be among my favorites. With all the X-Men you’d think I’d find one to really like, but I just don’t much care about any of them. Storm always struck me as an utter bitch, Rogue’s â€œY’all stand there while I punch ya, sugah!â€ country-fried style is tiresome, Emma Frost is like Sherri Palmer from ’24’ where you just wish she’d die already. And Captain America is dead while Jubilee is still alive? There is no God.
There is, however, a near-God. I am talking, of course, about Aunt May, Herald of Galactus. Most people don’t know about that, but it’s true! She hides the Power Cosmic in her pantry, behind the Vanilla Extract and the Curry Powder, which gives Peter hives. She cannot die. She can breathe in the vacuum of space. And while she doesn’t need to eat, she does it anyway because it helps with her cover. Everyone knows an old widower who seems to cook constantly. She’d be the size of Fred Dukes (aka the Blob) if she didn’t have the Power Cosmic powering her metabolism. The Silver Surfer gets credit for helping the Fantastic Four to hold off Galactus, but in truth it was a stern lecture from an old lady from Queens that drove the Devourer of Worlds away. Norrin still checks in with her from time to time, and often brings a care package of oatmeal-rasin cookies and snickerdoodles with him on his way back to deep space. Annihilus was lucky to have not made it to Earth with his Annihilation Wave, as an irate Aunt May, with a turkey in the oven, would not go quietly were she interrupted preparing Sunday dinner for Peter and Mary Jane. I look forward to Marvel finally publishing the lost tale of the unheralded herald. I think Greg Land would do a wonderful job on the art, and maybe we could get Jim Starlin to write it with the proper gravitas.
I should mention that I am also a big fan of Judge Anderson, PSI Division from the Judge Dredd mythos, but I can’t really explain it, I’m suffering from a bad infection in my jaw and the drugs are wearing off. So I think I’m going to call it a night. I enjoy writing these reader requested columns, so if you fine folks have and ideas for future columns, keep ’em coming. Hey, hold on…I don’t know what drug they’re advertising on TV right now but the side effects include â€œan increased urge to gamble and a heightened desire for sex, and nausea.â€ How do these things ever make it to the market? What egghead came up with a drug to treat…â€restless leg syndromeâ€ and came up with a drug that makes you want play slot machines? I wonder if it would do anything for my jaw? Or my Texas Hold ‘Em game?
Welcome to my nightmare.