Category Archives: Superheroines

Captain Marvel: To be a heroine

It’s a long way from standard damsel-in-distress to the heroine of a comic series and upcoming movie. Carol Danvers’ story begins with Captain Marvel1 rescuing her in standard super-hero fashion, but then she becomes the hero(ine) of her story, becoming Captain Marvel herself.

She wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet at the start, since she was an Air Force officer when she first met the man who would change her life.

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Wonder Woman: I Need a Hero(ine)

The Ages of Wonder Woman: Essays on the Amazon Princess in Changing Times – ed. Joseph J. Darowski
A Golden Thread: An Unofficial Critical History of Wonder Woman – Philip Sandifer
The Secret History of Wonder Woman – Jill Lepore
Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine – Tim Hanley

All four of these books address one central issue: what is it to be a heroine and a woman? We’ve had the philosophical take on both Superman and Batman, as well as Batman on the couch. (Hell, the philosophers even had a bash at Green Lantern.) With Wonder Woman, it seems that books are like buses – you wait for ages and then there’s four at once.

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Lucretia to Batgirl: Taking Back the Narrative, Escaping the Refrigerator

Long ago, at the very beginning of Roman civilization, there were kings. One king, Tarquin Superbus, took the royal prerogative a bit too far and blackmailed a noble matron named Lucretia into sleeping with him. (He tells her that he will kill her and his slave, then tell her husband he found them in flagrante.)

She, to take back her honour, and keep Tarquin from blackening her name, sent word to her husband of what had happened, and killed herself. A dissident noble named Brutus used her death to start a civil war and depose Tarquin, thus beginning the Roman republic.

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Carol Danvers, Marvel’s first female superhero, is also the most powerful. Article from Mashable.

Someone reading this noted that Carol Danvers is hardly Marvel’s first superhero. The article itself doesn’t make that claim, and I can only think whoever wrote the headline hadn’t read the article through, or misunderstood it.

Wonder Woman gets a new look.

Wonder-Woman1I suspect that the last thing the Amazon princess has ever worried about is wardrobe failure. Some of us mortals, however, have questioned whether a beauty-pageant style outfit is really suited to crimefighting. Batgirl and Spider-Woman, among others, have switched to more sensible, modern uniforms. (Although in Batgirl’s case she just had to lose the kitten heels.)

I assume, like everyone else, that WW is being rejigged for the movie, which is good news, because she’d look pretty silly standing next to Batman and Superman wearing a swimsuit.

The only problem I have with her new outfit is that her bracelets have these blades that shoot out to make her look like the guy in 300. I mean, this is a woman mighty enough to pair comfortably with Superman. She doesn’t need weapons. I keep imagining a weird variation on the old ads for Ginzu knives: buy now and we’ll throw in these arm blades. They slice, dice, and eviscerate! Order now and we’ll add a second set free!

Still, it’s about time she got a costume you can imagine fighting in. The artist Jim Lee came up with the look, but J. Michael Straczynski, the writer, also had input. He famously wanted the clothing on Babylon 5 to be comfortable and have pockets, because in the future people will still want to carry stuff around. We are assured that he gave Wonder Woman a place to stash her stuff, too.

Supergirl: Still Angry After All These Years.

When I wrote this post nine months ago, I was responding to the new Supergirl comic series, now sadly cancelled. The TV show, however, seems to be going strong. Perhaps now DC will try again.

Anyone who’s studied Supergirl’s history can’t blame her for being angry. When she first came to Earth, back in the 1950s, Superman did not always treat his cousin kindly. You would think he would be delighted to finally have another Kryptonian around, but no. He parked her in an orphange, where she had to wear a dowdy disguise and fend off potential adopters. (Mike Madrid’s The Supergirls compares her to a Victorian heroine, whose fate rests in the hands of an adult guardian.)

Despite this, she finally does manage to find a family to take her in, and enjoys the sort of stable, loving family that Clark Kent had. (When you look at Superman’s treatment of Lois and Kara through the 1950s, you have to assume he was mainlining Red Kryptonite the whole decade.)

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Finally – Spider-Woman gets her own story.

Just finished reading the new Spider-Woman (#5) and it is so much better. She looks like a person now, and has lost the trout pout the other artist gave her. The new artist, Javier Rodriguez, has given her and everyone else a slightly stylized but expressive look.

And the new costume works – it could go from street wear to combat gear without any gear-grinding. The look does seem to have been inspired by Bat-girl, but Jess left the Docs alone. Best of all, of course, Jessica finally has a story of her own. No Spidey-verses, no other spider-females around. Just her, and an interesting twist (SPOILER ALERT!).

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I’ve been reading up on WW and Captain Marvel. Couldn’t resist this.

STRAITENED CIRCUMSTANCES: Tim Hanley on Wonder Woman and Women in Comics

I’ve been enjoying Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy’s new Captain Marvel series so much that I recently picked up Essential Ms. Marvel Volume 1 at my local comic shop.  It collects the Ms. Marvel run from the late 1970s, when Carol Danvers was the editor of Woman magazine and turned into Ms. Marvel to bust up bad guys.  So really, she was Gloria Steinem with superpowers.  That’s right up my alley.

The stories are a good time, in that Bronze Age kind of way, but one panel in particular really amused me.  It’s from the first issue, just after Ms. Marvel took down a bad guy:

That dude rocking the sunglasses is saying:

That little lady makes Lynda Carter look like Olive Oyl!

Ms. Marvel #1 came out in 1977, so the Wonder Woman TV show would have been on the air at the time.  So:

a) Burn!!  They’re…

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