There are some very talented writers working on female heroes. Gail Simone; Waid always does them well; call me a slut for him, but Warren Ellis treats ‘em right; Giff, of course; Rucka with Tara Chace and that new SCU boss … and of course a few others. But what we need, really need, is some good female VILLAINS. Somebody maybe a little different from the Madonna/whore complex of Selina Kyle or the “deadly kiss” of Poison Ivy. Even Harley Quinn, as much fun as she is, is a villain because she’s Joker’s girlfriend.Now in recent years, my superhero diet has been restricted down to the occasions when Snarky Brit Masters --- Moore, Gaiman, Ellis --- deign to write for the genre, plus Busiek's delicious but infrequent visits to Astro City. But regular readers of my blog know that superheroes are as dear to my heart as pirates. So why hadn't I noticed this?
It’s time for some cunning bastard with a double XX-set. Some woman who, when she pops up with a grin on the JLA viewscreen, makes Batman’s teeth grind.
Conan Doyle created Irene Adler in 1891. And comics are still catching up?
In the superheroine department, things are surprisingly good, especially considering that the primary audience of the genre. You have Wonder Woman together with Superman and Batman among the Big Three characters. The X-Men are pretty badly misnamed, as just about half of the characters to fill out the X-Roster over the years have been women, including many of the most beloved and interesting of them: Storm, Rogue, Jean Grey in her many variations, plus pretty cool second-stringers like Kitty Pryde, Jubliee, Dazzler, and a zillion others. In fact, many of the most interesting second-stringers in the superhero biz are women: Black Canary, the Wasp, Black Widow, and the coolest of the many Captain Marvels. Don't forget the simply sensational She-Hulk, who isn't quite as silly a character as she sounds.
And if you're up for a visit to the rarefied air I breathe with the snarky Brits, there's a feast. Warren Ellis gives us a bunch of nifty superheroines, the best of them being Jakita Wagner ... or maybe Jenny Sparks, who could probably defeat the whole soddin' Justice League while nursing a hangover from the night before. And I can't let this pass without mentioning Alan Moore more than atoning for his two Silk Spectres with the magnificent Promethea.
But great supervillainesses? Okay, you've got Elektra, supremely badass and cool. Catwoman, likewise. (What other character in any genre could deserve Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, and ... surprise ... Gina Gershon and Adrienne Barbeau?) And Mystique in the X-Men films is great. And, ho-hum, as Rogers pointed out, you've got Poison Ivy who's, uh, kind of silly. And ... ah ... did I mention Elektra? Very tough, she is, and she has a great costume. Beyond these few, you're looking at the White Queen and Black Cat: other than being excuses to have exiles from the Victoria's Secret catalogue standing in the panel, is there any point to them?
And none of these are even close to the epic villain league of the Joker, Doctor Doom, Magneto, Darkseid, or Galactus. (Don't give me Madeline Pryor in Goblin Queen mode, okay? It's pathetic.)
What's up with that? It's weird.