Comics has a long history of strong women, starting in 1941 with Wonder Woman, our longest-running badass woman warrior. This year has seen a lot in the way of women in comics, both feminism and misogyny, with horrible threats being made over a Teen Titans cover to Cosplay is not Consent signs posted at all of the major cons. In the spirit of celebrating the badass women who we have found to represent us in comics, these 18 women span publisher, race, class, sexuality, gender identity, and body type, with one unifying theme: Pure badassdom.
By Katy Rex
Note: all the women listed below are part of series that are currently ongoing in the year 2014, but did not necessarily start this year.
April is way cooler than any 12 year old girl I ever knew, from BOOM! Box’s new series, Lumberjanes, which follows 5 hardcore lady-types fighting supernatural forces and doing friendship to the max. She’s best friends with a possible genius and potential future neurophysics engineer or something equally awesome, she arm wrestles stone golems, and she’s always there for the people she loves. She’s the perfect balance of cute and badass that so many other series have tried to hit. After just 9 issues (as of December 17), Lumberjanes has a huge base of hardcore lady fans, both kids and adults, who are looking forward to whatever the future may hold. The BOOM! Box Mixtape, coming out December 24, will also feature a Lumberjanes short.
Elektra is one of the new female-fronted title from Marvel Comics. Despite cancellation rumors, Issue #9 came out December 17, and #10 is set to come out in January. Originally a Frank Miller creation in the Daredevil series, Elektra’s new title is a “beautifully violent return of the world’s deadliest assassin.” Playing with the dichotomy of extreme violence and elegance, the creative team (W. Haden Blackman, Michael del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso) is earnest and evocative. Elektra is a deadly lone wolf. The series follows Elektra as she navigates different aspects of her identity, fighting Bloody Lips as an assassin and becoming a bodyguard.
From Valiant Entertainment, Faith is part of the Harbinger series, and left to join the Renegades team when the Harbinger Foundation was discovered to be less-than savory. She’ll be prominently featured in the upcoming Unity title. She’s also been part of the Armor Hunters title, and recently led her own issue #0, Harbinger: Faith. Faith is a girl that grew up reading comics, and that moral sensibility informs her decisions when she gets her own superpowers. Yes, she does tweet a lot for a superhero badass, but she always lands on the side of what she believes to be moral right, whatever that means for her personal life.
15. Princess Ugg
Ülga is the daughter of King Thórgrim and Queen Friðrika. Her homeland of Grimmeria is harsh and cold, and her character reflects that. However, Princess Ülga travels to Atraesca to attend Princess Academy among other young women with similar pedigrees. Ülga starts out as a traditional badass with weapons and violence, but as she learns to respect the values and norms of the other cultures she encounters, she learns that there are several ways to be a badass and she’s determined to master them all. From Oni Press, issue #7 comes out January 28, and a trade of the first arch is already available.
14. Dr. Mirage
Shan Fong-Mirage navigates the worlds of the living and the dead with realism and adeptness. Starting in the Valiant Entertainment title Shadowman, the new series The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is on its 4th issue, with #5 (the final issue in this arch) coming out January 14th. This arch follows her emotional devastation following the loss of her husband, her inability to communicate with his spirit despite her power, and her attempts to find and reclaim him.
13. Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan is a typical teenage girl who writes fanfic, loves superheroes, and tries to navigate her role and identity in the world. For her, this also means negotiating her Muslim identity in a Western high school, and on top of that, dealing with body changes that are worse than puberty and that have probable supernatural origins. With the onset of her superpowers, she takes on the role of Ms. Marvel, and teams up with Lockjaw the oversized teleporting alien bulldog. She’s equally a funny fangirl and a self confident badass, and in the most recent issue (#10) she monologues about the empowerment of her generation. The next issue comes out on January 28th.
From Image Comics’ new series Deadly Class, Saya is way cooler and more popular than most of the other kids at King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, especially Marcus Lopez, for whom she advocates admission (and consequently becomes responsible for). She, like her peers, is training to become one of the world’s most deadly assassins, and she is an excellent student. She also doesn’t allow social norms and even formal alliances dictate who she spends her time with and who she feels is worthwhile. She runs the Kuroki Syndicate, a group of Japanese gangsters, but runs missions with Marcus and Willie and Maria when their partnership will help her. The next issue of Deadly Class will be available January 7.
11. Klementina Ristovych
From The Fuse, a space-age cop comic, Klem is old school and a little bitter. She knows all the ins and outs of The Fuse, which she explains to the reader-proxy and wunderkind new cop on the force, Ralph Dietrich. Klem is old and hardened, and dedicated to her life on the force. Her new partner is something of an odd duck, but she takes him in stride as she works the homicide cases in a technically-illegal settlement on a crowded space station on a solar panel array 22,000 miles above earth. She and Dietrich might be partners, but Klem is the leader of the two and the protagonist of the story. The most recent issue (#8) came out December 10, and there is a trade paperback available that collects issues #1-6.
10. Eve Coffin
Eve Coffin of Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda’s Coffin Hill is a badass who doesn’t want to be a badass. She had a rebellious teen phase, but when she grew out of it and grew up she didn’t realize that her teen witchcraft had released an evil that was never resolved. Years later, after an on-the-job injury (she’s a cop) sent her back home, she’s forced to examine her supernatural ancestry and deal with who she is. Issue #14, out now, has art from Ryan Kelly as a guest artist, and the 2nd trade (collecting issues #8-14) will be out this February.
Aquaman gets a lot of flack from fans, and is the easiest butt of comic book jokes. Whether or not you think Aquaman is a silly man in a wetsuit with a pointless power as the jokes seem to indicate, his wife Mera is the coolest. She is strong and stubborn, and she gets stuff done, even– or especially– when Aquaman doesn’t. She does not allow people to disrespect her. She may be most well known because of her husband, but she doesn’t let his identity define her. Her character has been around since 1963, and in the New 52 universe she retains much of her character origin; sent from Xebel to assassinate Aquaman, she instead falls in love with him and joins the society above the ocean. Aquaman #37 is in comic shops December 24.
Luci is the devil herself. From The Wicked + The Divine, a series about gods reincarnated as popstars, Luci is the sexy, rebellious, androgynous, angry fallen angel you can’t help but be attracted to. She doesn’t follow any rules– not the rules of mortals, which none of the gods seem to care much about, but she’s also not interested in the code by which the pop stars govern themselves. Luci is as willing to disrespect the gods as she is to talk to mortals as equals. The next issue (#7) comes out January 21, and there’s a trade available collecting issues #1-5.
7. Poison Ivy
Despite not having a title of her own, Ivy stole the show in this year’s Batgirl Annual #2 from April of this year, written by Gail Simone. Also featuring the former Birds of Prey, this issue follows Batgirl as she navigates her relationship with her ally/enemy Poison Ivy. New 52 Ivy has never been more tragic, fascinating, and compelling as in this issue. Simone examines Pamela Isley’s past before she became Ivy– before she became much of anything, when she was just a little girl. The reader also follows Ivy’s change with the seasons, a function of her Seasonal Affective Disorder. Ivy’s an incredibly sympathetic character who, in this case, happens to be cast as the villain, but is not necessarily villainous. This annual would be a great place to start an Ivy solo title- maybe co-starring her good “friend” Harley?
6. Deathface Ginny
Pretty Deadly is a story almost entirely made up of strong women, an old school Western with a supernatural twist. Deathface Ginny, daughter of death, is part of a legend and a song, but has otherwise been bound to the world of death– until a little girl with one blue eye and one brown eye accidentally sets her free. Ginny is an avenging force, angry with her father and angry with the man who caused her to be bound to hell. She kills ruthlessly, mercilessly, but not mindlessly. Currently there are 5 issues, collected in trade, but the creators have said they will revisit the story in the future.
Originally a Neil Gaiman-created character from Spawn, now Thor’s long lost sister, Angela the avenging angel has a solo title that started December 3. Both an angel of Heven and an heir of Asgard, Angela no longer belongs to either, but keeps her hold on her purpose and values with the mantra “nothing for nothing”- action is of value, and a debt must be paid. Easily able to take down six warriors before they can even react, Angela is deadly, strong, and fast. Without a home, Angela the runaway will be returning to Earth in issue #2, set to come out January 7.
Rat Queens follows 4 badass lady adventuring group types, friends and fighting companions, each with their own strengths to bring to the group. Hannah is an elven mage who communicates with her parents– with whom she barely gets along– via enchanted wizardy rock, and who flies into a violent black-eyed murder spree if anyone hurts her friends. She’s very up-front, not willing to use social pleasantries as an excuse not to tell someone exactly what she’s thinking. She comes off as a cold bitch, but is as sympathetic, flawed, and emotional as any real person, just with a glittery hard exterior. The first two trades are a collaboration between Roc Upchurch and Kurtis J. Wiebe, a one-shot by Wiebe and Tess Fowler will be coming out on January 14, and thereafter the new artist on the title will be Stjepan Šejic.
There’s no Storm quite like mohawk Storm. Under a new creative team, Greg Pak and Victor Ibanez, Storm is an international globe-trotting badass. It may be a new team, but it draws heavily on the character’s past, from her relationship with Forge to her friendship with Yukio. Storm remembers her younger days as a thief as she investigates missing teens in New York, and reminisces about her friend and former love, Wolverine. Storm is a woman, and an X-man, to be reckoned with. A collected trade of #1-5 will be available in February, and the next issue, #7, will be available January 7.
2. Red Sonja
Yes, she’s a babe in a chainmail bikini on the cover of most of her issues (she changes outfits, sometimes even to practical things, on the interiors), but Red Sonja is an interesting, well-rounded, badass lady character. Sonja, now written by Gail Simone for Dynamite, is a barbarian- specifically, Hyrkanian- who gets her start in badassdom in a way that is particularly, shall we say, badass: when her family is killed, young Sonja intentionally leads the bandits into the woods, her home turf, and picks them off, one by one. Sonja swings a sword and drinks hard, and always seems to need a bath. The first twelve issues by Simone have been collected in two trades, #13 came out in November, and the next issue will be available on January 21.
1. Kamau Kogo
New this December, barely making the cutoff for comics of 2014, Bitch Planet exists in a future dystopia, half A Handmaid’s Tale, half prison sexploitation film. In this world, women who are “noncompliant” are sent to a behavior modification facility– a prison off-world, nicknamed “Bitch Planet.” The first issue raises a lot of questions, more than can even be asked here, but the series has tremendous potential, especially with a character like Kamau. Kamau does not accept the status quo, does not abide violence against her fellow noncompliant women, and does not hesitate to kick some ass. What makes her especially badass, and the #1 in this list, is the idea that, in the face of a system built specifically to eliminate her, in the context of a prison built specifically to punish her, an innocent in need can prompt her to jump into full violent-mode. She grew up, was raised, was constantly influenced from her birth by a society that tried to make her compliant. She’s not. The next issue in the series will come out January 14 of 2015.
Who do you think belongs on this list and didn’t make it? Who do you think is on this list and shouldn’t be? Tell us what you think in the comments below!