This article is a bit of a follow up to my opinion piece last week, ‘Why are there no good superheroine movies?’ The article was posted on reddit and responses ranged from naming films I had missed out, to saying that women didn’t like these type of movies anyway to making jokes about sandwiches and kitchens. Most people commented that there were no popular or interesting female characters anyway, and therein lies the problem.
Well, I happen to think that’s a load of old cobblers. There are plenty of fascinating superheroines in comics who kick all kinds of ass and have interesting backstories and motivations. So here are my top five superheroines you might not have heard of – but you should definitely read more about.
5. Cassandra Cain
Cassandra Cain was born to two master assassins of the DC universe and was trained from birth to be the ultimate weapon. Her father didn’t teach her to speak, read or write, and she developed a method of being able to predict people’s actions and body language with an uncanny precision. On her first hit at the age of eight, Cassandra was so horrified with what she had done she ran away, emotionally scarred, and convinced that murder was absolutely wrong. After wandering the world for nine years she became an agent of Oracle and after saving Commissioner Gordon’s life, earned the Batgirl costume. She was an incredibly successful and talented Batgirl, even being given the privilege of running solo in Gotham City. Silent, powerful and with a strict aversion to violence, Cain is a formidable member of the Bat family.
4. Judge Anderson
Judge Cassandra Anderson started as a supporting character in Judge Dredd and eventually became the star of her own series. She has psychic powers, the ability to sense approaching danger and foresee near events, and telepathy. As a leading member of the Psi Division, Anderson has been a combatant of the Dark Judges many times, often crucial to undermining their plans. She is greatly respected by Dredd, despite their differing attitudes; Anderson is able to feel doubt and remorse. Pushing fifty, Anderson is at the peak of her career, a veteran of her division, and held in a position of respect and awe by younger judges.
3. Big Barda
Probably one of the more well-known characters on this list, I had to include Barda because Barda is awesome. Big Barda is a powerful New God from Apokolips who fell in love with Mister Miracle and became a warrior on the side of good. She had been groomed by Granny Goodness to lead the Female Furies, a ferocious pack of warrior women, but fell in love with Scott Free, Darkseid’s adopted son. She risked her own safety to help Scott escape from Apokolips. Barda was created as a reversal of stereotypical female characters, being physically more powerful than most men, very willing to use her strength in battle and fiercely protective of her husband. While relishing the role of wife and housekeeper, she never hesitates to take on the duties of a warrior. Her hobbies include community defence classes for women, hitting things with her mega-rod and playing Pokemon cards.
X-23 is the female clone of Wolverine, created by the Weapon X program to be the ultimate assassin (you get a lot of ultimate assassins in comic books). Her claws were coated with Adamantium at an early age, and all ‘softness’ was brutally punished. Using a chemically developed trigger scent, X-23 was forced to murder her sensei and her surrogate mother. Escaping the facility, she wandered for two years, evading capture from legal authorities or those who would seek to use her for evil. After helping the X Men, she was enrolled in the Xavier Institute, becoming a prominent team member and is currently in the Avengers Academy. She is a dark and troubled character, but her mini-series X-23: Target X is truly excellent, showing that it is possible to have a superheroine character explore the darker sides of human nature.
1. Squirrel Girl
Squirrel Girl is considered the equal of Iron Man and Thor. She has defeated Doctor Doom, MODOK, Thanos, Deadpool and Wolverine singlehandedly. Her mutant power is that she’s essentially a human squirrel, with enhanced strength, agility, a prehensile tail, buckteeth and the ability to control squirrels and form them into her own furry little army. She was created to harken back to the more light-hearted days of comics, but seriously, I cannot help but love a character that defeats villains with squirrels.