This was hard. Marvel has given me so many fantastic heroines over the years that to choose ten was very difficult. I realize that there are some huge omissions on this list (Sue Storm, Elektra, Storm) but I had to produce a list that was true to my current tastes and convictions.
10. Rogue (Anna Marie)
What I love about Rogue more than anything is that she manages to be literally strong, while incredibly vulnerable. Even though she has a tendency to angst, she usually manages to pull it together and save the day. If that’s not inspirational, I’m not sure I know what is. Plus, she’s the first X-Woman that I ever wanted to be.
9. Black Widow (Natasha Romanova)
Characters like Natasha Romanova make reading comic books fun. She’s so slippery — it doesn’t matter if she’s a former Soviet or an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., there’s no way to know what she’s going to do next. Her total sense of self-preservation is quite endearing to me and I want to believe that she’s a fully reformed person…but…I don’t know, and I love it.
8. Jessica Jones
Alias isn’t an adult comic book because it drops the f-bomb. It’s adult because it approaches the world of Marvel without any gee-whiz razzle dazzle and with unflinching honesty. Jessica Jones brought a new perspective on superhero life. Evil isn’t always something you can fight fairly, sometimes you have to fight it within yourself. Oh, and she reads about Andy Kaufman to her baby — that’s just cool.
7. Sharon Carter
In a universe full of mutants, super soldiers and gamma radiation, it’s refreshing to find a woman who may be only human, but who is anything but powerless. She’s a soldier and as such isn’t saving the world because it’s her responsibility, but because it’s her job.
6. X-23 (Laura Kinney)
Oh yes, I went there. Before I get a ton of replies about how she’s just a female clone of Wolverine, let me assure you that I know that. In fact, I wasn’t going to add her initially, but then I decided to be honest with myself. The X-23 solo series and New X-Men are among my favourite books. She’s another character that I just hurt for. I desperately wanted her to find redemption and share a kiss with pretty boy Hellion. Now, she’s back to slashing her way through problems on X-Force, and I’m still riveted.
5. Molly Hayes
Brian K. Vaughan struck gold with this character. Sure, lifting a ton is easy peasy for this twelve-year old, she removed Cloak’s, er, cloak and she managed to knock Wolverine clear out of a cathedral. The thing I love most about Molly Hayes (besides her hats) is her ability to capture the innocent wisdom of youth. In stark contrast to a lot of the other ladies on this list, Molly hasn’t been jaded by the horrors she’s seen, but rather, is more resolute to be a hero and have fun doing it.
4. Kitty Pryde
Here is a girl who lives the dream. She has a power that makes her not only intangible, but almost invulnerable. She’s an effortlessly cute geek. She’s one of the first people to gain Wolverine’s respect — as a teenager, no less. She gets the hot man of steel and she’s a ninja. It’s obvious what Whedon’s going to do with her, but there’s still this hope in the back of my mind that somehow Astonishing X-Men will end happily for her and Colossus — simply because she’s too much fun.
3. Emma Frost
I used to loathe this woman. I’m not sure how it happened, but in the past year, I’ve grown begrudgingly fond of the mutant formerly known as The White Queen. I like that she’s strong and unapologetic for it. Women shouldn’t have to be nice to be admired. They should be allowed to make mistakes and to be offered second chances. Even if she’s constantly making life Hell for many characters I dearly love, I have to recognize that everything she does comes out of her desire to protect her own. She’s a fierce mama bear hiding behind a diamond exterior.
2. Gert Yorkes
*Spoiler Alert* I’ve been coping with the fate of Gert Yorkes in the same manner that Theresa Cassidy has been coping with her father’s death: complete denial. You can’t kill a character like Gertrude Yorkes — a teenaged girl who spews sass and venom with every snarky quip; who always stands up for what is right; who wins the cute boy with her heart, mind and soul (and not her body); and who was supposed to grow up to lead the Avengers!! You can’t!! You can’t!! *cries*
1. Marvel Girl (Jean Grey)
If you go back to the first issue of Uncanny X-Men, it’s amazing to see the things Lee and Kirby got right on the first try (and got wrong — Beast as a dumb, angry jock?). One of the things they got right was Jean Grey. Putting aside her laboured history as Phoenix for a moment, the Jean who appears as Marvel Girl is truly inspiring heroine for her time. She’s an equal member on the X-Men — not marginalized because of her femininity, but instead necessary and useful in every battle. Even more extraordinary is the fact that she’s the only one of the students (at that time) whose ability lies in the mind. She’s kind, brave, vivacious and she uses her brain to save the day. That’s my kind of heroine.