10 Epic Female Superheroes
Ever since the first female superhero, Fantomah, debuted in Fiction House’s Jungle Comics in 1940, female heroes have been steadily growing in popularity. Wikipedia lists 622 of them, and we know that there are way more than that. It’s almost impossible to narrow down from such a huge pool of talent, but here’s a list of our Top Ten – each one of these heroes is absolutely amazing.
Thor Vol 4 #1; art by Russell Dauteman, Matthew Wilson
Wait a second, isn’t Thor a guy? The Son of Odin? He still is as far as the Avengers movies go, not to mention his own series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Hemsworth does a great job portraying the Asgardian warrior, but Marvel has gone in a different direction in the newest Thor comics. A mysterious woman (her real name or true identity is yet to be revealed) was able to raise Mjolnir – Thor’s hammer which only the worthy may wield. This resulted in the original Thor losing his ability to hold the sacred weapon, and his passing of the name “Thor” on to the woman. The Superhero Formerly Known as Thor now goes by his last name only, Odinson.
The New Thor possesses all of the superhuman Asgardian abilities as Odinson: elite strength, durability, flight, and manipulation of lightning. One advantage The Goddess of Thunder has on her predecessor, though, is a stronger level of mental control and restraint. She also rocks the Viking hairstyle even better.
Jean Grey / White Phoenix of the Crown
X-Men Phoenix Endsong #5; art by Greg Land, Matt Ryan, Justin Ponsor
Jean Grey is an original, founding member of the X-Men, and she’s also an Omega-level mutant (which, for the uninitiated, means that she’s really freaking strong). With powers originally limited to basic telekinesis, Jean’s telepathy has grown into one of the strongest forces, period. She can control others’ minds and emotions, as well as create physical psychic barriers and projectiles. Merged with the Phoenix Force, one of the most ancient cosmic entities in the Marvel Universe, Jean can manipulate time, travel across space unaided, and create flames through cosmic pyrokinesis.
Batgirl #35; art by Babs Tarr
There have been several Batgirls in comic history, each one at the ready to kick ass alongside the Dark Knight himself. The first Batgirl, Betty Kane, was introduced as Batman’s sidekick in 1961, but Barbara Gordon became the definitive incarnation of the character in her debut six years later. After a confrontation with The Joker leaves Barbara paralyzed in Batman: The Killing Joke, she becomes known as Oracle in future stories. Assisting superheroes across the DC universe with her computer hacking expertise, she is a shining example of how brains can triumph over brawn.
Recently, Batgirl’s gotten a visual revamp in the comics – not as drastic as Thor’s, but still. Gone are the impractical heels and spandex, replaced by climbing boots and tactical gear. Designed by DC illustrator Babs Tarr and writer Cameron Stewart, it might just be one of our favorite female superhero costumes ever made. Barbara literally puts it together from thrift store pieces in the comics, so there’s no reason this costume can’t be completely DIY-ed.
She-Hulk Vol 3 #1; art by Ryan Stegman
Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin, inherited the powers of the Hulk through an emergency blood transfusion following an accident. As She-Hulk, Jennifer becomes a mean and green super-powered version of herself, similar to Bruce’s transformations. She does possess much greater emotional and mental control in her enraged state, though.
She-Hulk is also the leader of the A-Force, Marvel’s upcoming all-female superhero team that will be the focus of a brand new series, tied into Secret Wars. The released cover of A-Force #1 shows She-Hulk amongst a crowd of just about every female superhero Marvel has ever put on a page; confirmed team members include Dazzler, Medusa, NIco Minoru, Storm, and Singularity.
Marvel Knights 4 #19; art by Steve McNiven
Sue Storm made her first appearance in issue #1 of The Fantastic Four in 1961, in which she, Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, and her brother Johnny are mutated into the four crime fighters. Originally known as Invisible Girl, she was Marvel’s first female superhero in the Silver Age of Comics (that’s mid-50s to early 70s). She may be the only woman in the Fantastic Four, but her invisibility and telekinetic force-field abilities make her perhaps the most powerful of the group. In the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot movie, the Invisible Woman will be played by Kate Mara.
Black Widow: Deadly Origin #2; art by Adi Granov
The codename Black Widow has referred to a few different women in the Marvel Universe, but the first character to do so in the mainstream comics was Natalia Romanova, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff. Beginning as a Russian spy and adversary of Iron Man, she eventually defected to the good side and has been a part of almost too many elite fighting forces to count – The Avengers, The Defenders, and S.H.I.E.L.D., to name a few. A martial arts master with a penchant for gymnastics and ballet, Natalia exhibits beauty and grace as well as sheer strength in her fights.
Scarlett Johansson will be reprising her role as Black Widow, and sporting a new blue-trimmed jumpsuit, in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is out next month.
Art by Mahmud Asrar
As the twin sister of superhero Quicksilver and the daughter of Marvel mega-villain Magneto, Scarlet Witch is one of the most powerful women in comics – at certain points in the X-Men and A vs X series, she’s shown to possess a resistance to the Phoenix Force, the same energy that unleashed the true power of Jean Grey. Scarlet Witch’s flashier abilities include telekinesis and the projection of Hex Bolts – energetic beams or spheres of light that can set things on fire, deflect enemy attacks, create forcefields, or manifest countless other effects. She’ll also be joining Black Widow and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers in Age of Ultron, and will be played by Elizabeth Olsen.
Superman/Batman #13; art by Michael Turner, Peter Steigerwald
DC Comics began playing with the idea of a female Superman in a 1943 issue of Action Comics, in which Lois Lane dreams she becomes a superheroine following a blood transfusion from Superman. It wasn’t until 1959 that the true Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, arrived on planet Earth. In similar fashion to her cousin Superman’s departure from Krypton, Kara was sent to Earth by her parents to escape the impending destruction of the Kryptonian race. Naturally, Supergirl shares the same powers as Superman, but she is quite possibly the stronger of the two: Superman has grown accustomed to suppressing his abilities on Earth so as to not hurt innocent bystanders, whereas Supergirl fully unleashes herself to take down the bad guys.
Supergirl Vol 6 #19; art by Mahmud Asrar, Marlo Alquiza, Dave McCaig
Also, if we’re going to talk about Supergirl, we have to mention Power Girl, too. Debuting in the mid-70s, she’s the Earth-Two alternate universe counterpart to Supergirl. Just like the Earth-One (the “real” world) Kara, this Kara is Superman’s cousin from Krypton, who arrived on Earth shortly afterwards. The main difference between Power Girl and Supergirl, though, is that Power Girl is more mature and rational in demeanor, as opposed to Supergirl’s style reckless abandon in combat. She also has a shorter, bobbed haircut and a completely unique white and red costume that serves to emphasize her independence from Superman.
Wonder Woman Secret Files and Origins #3; art by Phil Jimenez, Jose Villarrubia
Wonder Woman is possibly the most iconic female superhero of all-time, with her signature gauntlets and especially American outfits. She has always been an Amazonian warrior princess, dating back to her Golden Age debut in 1941, but during her rebooted origin in DC’s 2011 The New 52, she is shown to be the daughter of Zeus, attaining the status of a demigoddess. Wonder Woman is slated to appear in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, played by Gal Gadot (Gisele from the Fast & Furious franchise). She’s also going to get her own superhero movie, Wonder Woman, in 2017.
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