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Congratulations to Warren Newsom on winning the contest to design our new Facebook banner! You can see Warren’s fantastic work here. And check out more of his art, including costume redesigns of fan-favorite superheroines, at his DeviantArt page: http://heroid.deviantart.com/

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll be showing you all the other fantastic submissions we received. And remember, you can keep up-to-date on Girl-Wonder.Org’s latest news, recs, and blogposts by following us on Facebook or 赛和谐风安卓版!

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Superhero comics have come a long way. The range of female superheroes, vigilantes, and villains has broadened considerably since earlier times. There’s a lot more on offer for feminist fans of mainstream comics.

But today’s fans face a whole new set of stumbling blocks: objectifying, inappropriately sexualised art styles; gruesome deaths designed only to forward a male character’s story; and a generally held public opinion that superhero comics are the domain of boys and men and therefore have no need to be female-friendly.

movie downloadWe love comics. We want to see them remain a vital, energetic, engaging, popular art form enjoyed by a range of audience groups. If this objective is to remain viable, comics have to pick up their game. We’re here to see that they do.

One of Girl-Wonder.org’s primary aims is to get comics fans talking to each other in an environment where everyone feels equally free to express their opinions. Toward this end, visitors are strongly encouraged to make use of the forums.

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Girl-Wonder.org received a Tartie from Sequential Tart, in the fifth annual Tartie Awards!

Girl-Wonder.org was Yahoo’s Pick of the Day on June 20, 2006!

Submissions for proposed websites or columns can be sent to submissions@rmess.cicadtime.com

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赛 风 安卓版 apkAvengers Academy is possibly the best book Marvel is currently publishing. Written by Christos Gage and drawn by a number of fantastic artists (including Mike McKone, Sean Chen, Tom Raney, and soon Tom Grummett), Avengers Academy tells the tale of 6 new teenage superhumans who share a history of capture and torture at the hands of H.A.M.M.E.R. director Norman Osborn. In the wake of Norman Osborn’s fall from grace, these troubled teens (Veil, Striker, Mettle, Finesse, Hazmat, and Reptil) have been taken under the Avengers’ wing to become the inaugural class of Avengers Academy. But, as the kids very quickly discover, they weren’t chosen because they have the best potential to become heroes – they were chosen because the Avengers fear that, without guidance, they might turn into villains.

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Yet the book is far from glum and gloomy. Ultimately Avengers Academy is a story of hope, of adults trying to help kids and kids trying to help themselves and each other. The kids have their problems, but they’re still very much kids – they even have a prom! – and their interpersonal relationships are bright spots amid the stresses of battle. They have successes to match their failures, and the book is frequently quite funny. I rarely finish an issue without a smile on my face.

For those whose interest has been piqued, I highly recommend picking up all the trade paperbacks of the series so far. But for those looking to dip their toes in, the book’s recent status quo change – moving the school to the old West Coast Avengers headquarters and adding new characters – is a perfect jumping-on point. Pick up last month’s issue 21 and see what the fuss is all about.

Violence: This is a superhero comic, so there’s plenty of fighting of all kinds, including violence that ends in death (though not for our protagonists). Given the premise, all of the characters also have some kind of torture in their backstories. But violence in this book is rarely graphic or gory.

Sexualized Violence: There are references to the past sexualized attack on faculty member Tigra (which happened in another book) and one of the male characters is implied to have been molested as a child. Sexualized violence is never graphic or cast in a positive light, however. 赛·风3安卓版免费下载

Gender: Half of the original team was female, and more recently two more regular female students have been added, in addition to a number of part-time students (including former solo title stars Spider-Girl, the Savage She-Hulk, and X-23). The girls come from a variety of backgrounds and have distinct personalities, and gendered plots and dialogue are extremely rare. The girls are both as heroic and as screwed-up as their male counterparts.

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Minorities: From its inception, this book has made a conscious attempt to include diversity in its cast. Reptil is Latino, Hazmat is half-white/half-Japanese-American, and Mettle in flashbacks appears to be at least half Native Hawaiian (he’s also half-Jewish). The new cast includes a white queer character (Julie Power) and a Puerto Rican female character (the new White Tiger, taking up the mantle from wholesale jeans, Hector Ayala), and recent writer comments have hinted that one of the original team may be gay. The teaching staff, relying as it does on older characters, is totally white and straight (and mostly male), but that could change at any point as the cast shifts. In addition, the new part-time students come from a variety of backgrounds.

Parents May Wish to Be Aware: I would rate this book at least PG-13; it is definitely aimed at teens and adults, and the level of violence and implied sexuality is probably too high for younger kids. But compared to some superhero comics, this book tends to be less graphic and grim-and-gritty; the costumes and art are not sexualized and there is a strong moral center to the story. Teenagers should be fine.

Review by Jennifer Margret Smith

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Let’s face it — if you had a choice to wear sweatpants to work, you would do it; so do most of your colleagues. Fortunately, you can now pull off the office version of denim jogging pants, the “cooler cousin” of sweatpants. You just need to know and follow the ground rules of the office to do this with aplomb. To learn more, read on.
The last day of the work week is a time to wear a new fashion trend in the office. Give it a test, maybe once a month, and push the envelope. If there’s no resistance, make it a casual Friday staple. Add a jacket, a professional shirt (preferably with buttons) and dress shoes, and see if your boss notices. If you get caught, you can excuse yourself for not knowing the “casual fridays” rule. You also may want to have a second outfit ready to go in your vehicle.
Jacket makes everything and everyone look a little more professional, even college professors. By pairing your navy blue jean joggers with a customized jeans, you are hiding the fact that you are pulling off wearing sweatpants to work.
If you’re convinced that a shirt makes the whole outfit look more formal, it can also cover up a lot of mistakes. Choose muted colors and patterns. Make sure your button-down shirt matches your jogger and it is as professional as possible.
There is a plan to test out your blue and black joggers on a day where you will spend most of your time sitting at your desk. Until you’ve mainstreamed to wear joggers to work, you shouldn’t wear them on a day when you have to give a big presentation to your boss. By planning to wear them on a down day at the office, you can minimize your exposure to the office and thus make it less noticeable.
Give your joggers a polished look with twill or other professional-looking wholesale jeans. Don’t wear patterns because they draw attention to you. Match them with an all-business jacket, shirt, and shoes, and you will be able to pull it off with ease.
Jean joggers are basically sweatpants that, when paired properly, can be worn in the office. The key is the pairing and the timing.
Jeans jogging pants are basically sweatpants that you can wear in the office with the right combination. The key is pairing and timing.

安卓ssr小工具

赛 风 安卓版 apk

Shado’s father was a Yakuza operative who traveled to America to set up Yakuza operations there. However, he was placed in an internment camp during Word War II, where several of the soldiers came to suspect him of having a hidden agenda. After the war, they tracked him down, killed his wife, and made him give up the location of the money. He committed seppuku, and the burden of his disgrace fell upon his infant daughter, Shado, who was trained by the Yakuza as the perfect archer and perfect assassin.
As an adult, Shado tracked down the soldiers who had tortured her father and started picking them off. When Green Arrow tried to stop her because, you know, murder she basically kicked his butt. However, she also helped him kill the men who were torturing his lover Black Canary, saving both of their lives in the process.
Back in Japan, Shado was instructed to cut off her thumb as penance for allowing Ollie to kill one of her targets. Instead, she fled to America. When Ollie tracked her down, she shot him in the chest, but then nursed him back to health. While he was still delirious and recuperating, she raped him and conceived a son, Robert. She forbade Ollie to take a role in Robert’s life, but enlisted Ollie’s help when Robert was kidnapped.
Years later, Shado resurfaced at an archery tournament, where she totally made out with Connor Hawke, Ollie’s other son. Groooooss. Then she had Connor shot as part of a convoluted plan to save her own son. (This is about the point where I along with everyone else stopped reading Green Arrow.)
So What’s So Great About Her?

Let’s face it: Shado’s a problematic character on a number of levels. She’s so unsubtly a stereotypical Dragon Lady that she actually has a giant dragon tattoo. (And all of her plot lines are titled things like ‘Song of the Dragon’ and ‘The Black Dragon Saga.’ And most of her cover appearances have her posed looking over her left shoulder, so as to better show off the dragon tattoo. And also: dragons.) Even beyond the Dragon Lady aspect, she has a lot of the trademarks of Asian comic book stereotypes: Speaking in wise and faux-zen tones of the tao of archery and being the bow or whatever. An obsession with honor. A backstory that involves both the Yakuza and a noble sensei. Come on already, Grell.
In recent years she’s been the victim of bad writing, what with the semi-incestuous makeouts and the out-of-character Machiavellian schemes and the hey hey. And at the end of the day, she is an admitted rapist, even if recent writers like to misinterpret that as sexy, sexy cheating on Dinah (note to writers: it’s not).
And yet when written well, Shado is a compelling character. In her first storyline, we meet a woman who has lived her whole life as a tool for someone else’s vengeance and who makes her first choice for herself when she decides to let Ollie’s vengeance take precedence, knowing full well that she will be penalized for that choice. She’s doing what she believes is a kindness, though deliberately taking a life sets Ollie on a path of self-destruction that eventually ends in his death. It’s a complicated, deeply flawed choice from a complicated, deeply flawed woman.
In a later appearance, she shoots Ollie in the chest. She claims she mistook him for an attacker and that it’s only luck that he wasn’t killed; Ollie maintains that she is too good of an archer you know, the greatest archer in the world to have missed. Either way, she cares for him until he’s well again, and they spend a lovely few weeks in her idyllic garden paradise, swimming naked and talking about archery with Ollie completely unaware that she raped him while he was delirious. (Her justification is that, knowing that Ollie will always love Dinah and that Dinah can’t have children, she wants to have something of Ollie that Dinah can’t have. With the magical powers of comic book ladies, she manages to conceive from one-time intercourse out of sheer willpower, I guess.) So: she shoots him, she heals him, she rapes him, she staycations with him. Again: complicated.
Shado’s hardly a role model. She’s committed violent crimes against both friends and enemies, and if her son is at risk, it’s a fair bet she’ll commit them again. (She’s a very devoted mother! Have I mentioned? Complicated.) But in her heyday Shado was a nuanced and interesting character who always added to any story in which she played a part, and will hopefully add her own particular brand of ambiguous morality to Green Arrow storylines to come.
Notable Appearances:
Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters
Green Arrow v2 #9-12, 21-24, 35-38, 63-66, 75, 101, 115-117
Green Arrow Annual #2
Shado: Song of the Dragon #1-4
Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #1-6
Green Arrow/Black Canary #11-12

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When Karolina and her friends discovered that their parents were actually evil, murdering criminals, she was probably the one who had the toughest time coming to terms with it. For one, the gentle, infinitely kind girl had a hard time believing the worst of anyone, especially her movie star parents. And second, well. Discovering that your movie-star-slash-murdering-criminal parents were also banished Majesdanian aliens, and thus so was she, was kind of hard to take.
She did accept it, though, and ran off with the other kids. Despite some lingering depression and inability to fully control her solar-based powers, she was loyal to the team and joined in on the crime-fighting attempts. But things went from bad to worse when she tried to kiss one of her female friends, Nico, and was rejected.
Soon after, a Skrull named Xavin showed up and declared that she was Karolina’s fiancée. (Skrulls don’t possess male/female gender identities, but Xavin usually defaults to a woman in human form, so for the sake of this post, I’m going to use feminine pronouns.) Their parents had arranged the marriage long ago to broker peace between their warring worlds. Her spirit broken, Karolina agreed to leave Earth to marry Xavin, despite protests from the other Runaways.
On Majesdane, Karolina learned how to fully control her abilities. But before the wedding could take place, war broke again, and Xavin and Karolina ended up back on Earth. During their time together, they’d developed genuine feelings for each other, so Xavin stuck around and joined the team. Despite her loyalty to Xavin, Karolina harbored an attraction to Nico, and her confusion over Xavin’s gender led to friction.
When Majesdanians arrived on Earth arrest Karolina for her part in the recent war with the Skrulls, shape-shifting Xavin knocked her out and took her place. When Karolina awoke, Xavin was already on her way to Majesdane; Karolina was devastated.
Mostly recently, S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) tried to deport Karolina, along with other aliens on Earth. They didn’t quite manage it, and she helped save the world from truly evil aliens instead.
So What’s So Great About Her?

It’s no big secret that superhero comics are largely constructed to fit a straight man’s fantasy. As such, the women are stacked, gorgeous, scantily clad, and ready to be the nearest male hero’s arm candy. On the rare occasion that they would really rather be on the arm of another lady, it’s usually staged so it appeals to the male gaze first. The romance and women themselves come in a distant second.
With Karolina, this isn’t the case at all. Her coming out process was very quiet and drawn-out, something she was dealing with while also coming to terms with her parents’ true nature. Accepting her sexuality took a backseat, understandably so, and Karolina is such a quiet character that it’s unsurprising that she mostly kept it to herself.
Speaking of which, I have to admit that I love quiet heroes. Obviously, forceful, outgoing personalities are a lot more common among superheroes—not only are alphas more likely to jump into the fray, they’re easier to write. Karolina’s quiet bravery is very nuanced and artfully constructed. Honestly, she’s also often a breath of fresh air amongst the rest of the sarcastic, loudmouth Runaways.
But anyway, Karolina’s coming out and subsequent relationship is personality-driven and comes across as very real, an admirable feat for a glowing alien dating a shapeshifter from a genderless culture. Their relationship is as intense as any first serious relationship and fraught with bickering and promises of undying devotion. The course of their love doesn’t run smoothly—Karolina’s feelings for Nico don’t go away immediately, and she’s not actually comfortable with Xavin not having a concrete, recognizable gender of choice—because hey, what relationship is perfect? Especially a teenage relationship.
Another way the creative teams make it clear they’re keeping the characters’ ages in mind—there are no sexy makeouts or anything close to sex scenes. What we do get are plenty of affectionate moments and implications of a sexual relationship. The fact that I’m actually impressed a comic isn’t sexually exploiting a teenage lesbian is really depressing, but hey, that’s the state of comics right now.
Karolina’s so introverted, so inclined to put others first, that it’s hard to say a lot about her personality. She’s sweet, strikingly pretty, and has a strong social conscious, but sometimes she gets lost in the crowd of extroverts. As pleased as I am to see a realistic, sympathetic portrait of a lesbian hero in comics, the fact that this has been her primary personality trait for the last few years is really unfair to her character. As much as I’ve missed Xavin, I’m excited to see what her absence brings out in Karolina.
Notable Appearances

Runaways (vol. 1) #1-18
Runaways (vol. 2) #1-30
X-Men/Runaways
Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways #1-4
Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #1-3
Runaways (vol. 3) 1-14
S.W.O.R.D. #1-5

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Publisher: Fox Features Syndicate, then Holyoke Publishing, then Fox again, then finally Charlton Comics
First Appearance: Blue Beetle v1 #4 (Fall 1940)
Created By: ‘Charles Nicholas’ (Originally a penname for Charles Wojtowski, original Blue Beetle artist, this became a catchall credit for all Blue Beetle comics no matter who worked on them.)
Biography:

Throughout the 1940s, young Dan Garret kept the streets safe by day as a rookie patrolman and by night as the Blue Beetle, possessed of powers so mysterious even the writers weren’t totally sure what they were! In both guises he was dogged by ‘demon girl reporter’ Joan Mason, the star reporter of the Bulletin, Daily Blade, New York Chronicle, or Daily Planet, depending on who was writing that particular issue. Though she considered the Blue Beetle ‘a romantic caveman,’ Joan had no particular interest in Dan except as a source of inside tips, but she often found herself entangled in his zany, mobster-and-foreign-spy-battling adventures nonetheless.
In the postwar years, as the popularity of superheroes faded, Blue Beetle stories underwent a shift from jovial costumed adventures to darker, tawdrier stories featuring sexy tied-up ladies on the covers. (Yes, comic books have always been super classy.) As Blue Beetle gradually was reduced to narrating true crime stories in his own book, Joan’s star rose. Her hair was changed from damsel-in-distress blonde to take-no-prisoners brunette, and she began starring in her own backup stories across the Fox list, fighting murderous strippers and engaging in hilarious newspaper-related japes. Sometimes Dan would show up briefly, or his lovably oafish partner Mike Mannigan, but Blue Beetle was persona non grata in these all-Joan, all the time stories.
So What’s So Great About Her?

As you’ve probably surmised from the bio above, the quality of Fox Features’ comics was…variable, as was the artistic integrity. This was, after all, the company that was sued for plagiarizing Superman with their very first issue. And the idea of a feisty girl reporter who occasionally worked for the Daily Planet, was infatuated with a superhero and had no interest in his boring old civilian identity, and whose nose for news often got her into wacky scrapes came from a very clear source.
But two things keep her from being a total Lois clone. One is that she did get those solo stories, while Superman managed to hang onto the limelight throughout the entire Golden Age. (Lois did, of course, get a long-running solo series, but not until the Silver Age.)
The other is that Lois continued past the Golden Age, into the silly, domestic stories of the Silver Age, the clumsy steps towards feminism in the Bronze Age, and the completely rockin’ character she is now. Lois is a well-rounded, complicated character with a back catalogue that stands as a history of women in comics and in pop culture, to a large degree. Joan, fading as she did when Charlton ditched Dan Garret’s police background, remains very purely what Lois was at her inception: a fearless, brassy dame who carries a pen and a gun and is far more dangerous with the former. She’s a fast-talking, wise-cracking time capsule of a bygone era an era, it’s worth noting, when female reporters were few and far between. And she’s usually far more human and entertaining than stilted, awkward Dan.
Joan Mason is inarguably a one-note character, and certainly a product of her time but even after over half a century out of print, she’s a joy to read.

Notable Appearances:
Fox/Holyoke:
All Great Comics
All-Top Comics #8-12
Blue Beetle v1 #4,9, 13,31-41,47-48,56-60
Book of All-Comics #1
Everybody’s Comics #1
Mystery Men Comics #15
Phantom Lady #13
Zago, Jungle Prince #1
Zoot Comics #7
Charlton:
Blue Beetle v2 #118, 120, 121, 140
Space Adventures #13-14

赛 风3 安卓手机版

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Our tribute to Americana continues with another star-spangled heroine!
Publisher: DC Comics
Created By: Geoff Johns and Lee Moder
First Appearance: Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July 1999)
Biography:

Courtney Whitmore was none too happy when her mom announced that a) she was marrying her doofy boyfriend Pat Dugan, and b) the whole family was moving from LA (hot!) to Blue Valley, Nebraska (not). Courtney blamed Pat for the move, so when she discovered his secret namely, that he had been the adult sidekick Stripesy to the deceased teen hero Star-Spangled Kid she decided to get back at him by stealing the Kid’s Cosmic Converter Belt and wearing it, along with a modified costume, to a school dance. Naturally, bad guys attacked, and Courtney swung into action and found herself hooked on the superhero lifestyle. Unable to dissuade her, Pat decided to fight crime beside her and keep an eye on her in a giant robot suit he called S.T.R.I.P.E.
Courtney soon joined the JSA, and there matured from a bratty kid with braces to a mature, heroic young woman…with braces. After Starman Jack Knight gave her his cosmic staff, she changed her name to Stargirl. While on the JSA, she dated both Atom-Smasher, who was much older than her, and Captain Marvel, who only looked much older than her. She also fought her deadbeat dad, who turned out to have become a hired thug, and when he was killed, acknowledged Pat to be the father she really loved.
As something of a mentor to the other young heroes in the JSA franchise, she split off from the main JSA to form the All-Stars with Power Girl, but that series was recently canceled. With the JSA benched in the new DCU, Courtney’s future is uncertain, but considering her connection to Geoff Johns (see below), it’s unlikely that she’s gone for good.
So What’s So Great About Her?

I first encountered Courtney in her own series, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.. Geoff Johns famously based Courtney on his own sister, who died tragically young, and perhaps that’s why Courtney is so appealing. She’s just such a believable kid, even when phrases like ‘Cosmic Converter Belt’ are coming out of her metalmouth.
In fact, maybe it’s those selfsame braces that make her so gosh-darn likeable, or her goofy, Yankee Poodle-inspired costume with its godawful bike shorts. She’s a teenage girl who is trying so, so hard to be cool and coming off like a total goober, and how can you not love that? Even better, she’s a teenage girl who gradually matures and grows out of her gooberhood (though, unfortunately, not her bike shorts), and that’s so rewarding to watch. (Especially for those of us who remember our own bracefaced years. Bike shorts were the least of my problems.
Seeing Courtney as she was ten years ago makes me want to cringe with sympathy and give her a cookie. Seeing Courtney as she is now makes me want to give her a high five and then sit down with her and dish. And surrounded as she is by the most legendary figures in the DCU, Courtney’s very existence is loaded with potential; she’s always portrayed as a teenage girl who will one day be just as legendary. So seeing Courtney as she will be in another ten years will, I’m guessing, also be a joy.
Courtney Whitmore is proof that DC can depict a teenage girl in all her awkward, moody glory, and do it respectfully and well. Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!

Notable Appearances
Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0-14
JSA #1-87
Starman v2 #80
Justice Society of America v3 #1-50
JSA All-Stars #1-18

赛 风3 安卓手机版

安卓ssr小工具

When the techno-organic alien Phalanx started abducting young mutants, Bahamian-born Clarice was one of those taken. Though she was notably freaked out by her teleportation powers, she ended up using them to cut apart one of the Phalanx and save the day. Unfortunately, she was so inexperienced that she also killed herself in the process. Recently, Clarice was resurrected by the ancient psychic-vampire Selene, who manipulated her into doing her bidding.
Meanwhile, in an alternate universe where Apocalypse ruled, Clarice was rescued from slavery by Sabretooth of all people and taken to join the renegade X-Men. She idolized her mentor, ‘Mr. Creed,” who helped her heal and come into her own after years of degradation and sexual abuse. She became a valued member of the team and was prepared to go down fighting with the rest of them when their universe was ostensibly tearing apart at the seams.
At that point, however, Clarice found herself transported to a new world by a being called the Timebroker. He told her, along with a few others, that there was a new mission at hand—to travel to alternate universes and right wrongs. Clarice became the leader of the group and eventually started up a relationship with one of the others, Mimic. Over the years, the Exiles have lost and gained several members, including Blink, but she seems to have a way of coming back to the team.
So What’s So Great About Her?

One thing I love about Blink is how we get to see the duality of her character. In the mainstream Marvel universe, where we first lay eyes on her, she’s a scared teenager in a ridiculously horrible situation. Considering she was already traumatized by the manifestation of her mutant powers (which involved waking up in a pool of blood), it’s no wonder she’s freaked out. She ends up saving the day, but she’s inexperienced and dies doing it, thereby making herself what would normally be a heroic footnote in X-Men lore.
But then came the Age of Apocalypse, and oh em gee. I must say, I was still in my comics fan infancy when AoA ran its course, so it seemed like a HUGE deal to me. And it was…at the time. But over 15 years later, there are very few lingering AoA influences left in the Marvel U — for example, Dark Beast, an evil and truly horrifying version of Hank McCoy; X-Man, a son of Cyclops and Jean Grey; and Blink.
It can be hard to predict who’s going to end up becoming a breakout character, and I truly think Marvel expected it to be X-Man; after all, he survived the destruction of AoA’s universe and crossed over to mainstream Marvel to star in his own outgoing. But really, how could it have been anyone but Clarice? She’s got it all! Her pink-and-purple coloring, paired with a green fantasy-novel-elf-slash-video-game-heroine outfit, is memorable and gorgeous. She has an even more ridiculously horrible situation in her background, and overcomes it to become a valuable member of the X-Men. And to top it all off, Sabretooth is her daddy! That’s right — murderous, sadistic Victor Creed is, in AoA, rather domesticated, thanks in part to a spritely young girl he more or less adopts. Compelling? I should say so.
I know you might not believe me when I say this, but — all this, and she’s really not a Mary Sue.
There’s no wonder there’s pretty much been a constant outcry to bring back Blink since AoA ended. I don’t really care that they brought back the original Clarice, who seems to have reverted to her ‘scared and confused” characterization, but I’m grateful we had Exiles for as long as we did, because that way we got to keep the Clarice and see her grow. Because for all she participated in X-Menning, she was still (rightfully, I guess) treated as a teenager (she was often the designated babysitter for Magneto and Rogue’s son, for example). Plopped into yet another ridiculously horrible situation, and we got to see her pretty much finish growing into womanhood, becoming more assertive and less dependent on Creed emotionally, and evolve into an effective leader and warrior.
While I’m really bummed that she’s been retconned as the survivor sexual abuse (traumatic enough to make her go mute as a girl, but apparently totally over it now — that’s quality writing, kids), Blink’s badass design and growth as a character mostly make up for it. I just hope the AoA version of her pops up again sometimes soon.
Notable Appearances

Uncanny X-Men #317
X-Men #37
X-Men Alpha
Astonishing X-Men #1-4
X-Men Omega
Blink #1-4
Tales from the Age of Apocalypse
Exiles (vol.1) #1-100
Exiles Annual #1
X-Men: Die By the Sword #1-5
Exiles: Days of Then and Now
Exiles (vol. 2) #1-6
X-Necrosha #1
X-Force #25
X-Men: To Serve and Protect #3

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The princess of a hidden kingdom of magic-users somewhere in Norway, Tora was born with a particularly strong strain of the ice-manipulating powers common to her people. When an engineer named Rod Schoendienst found Tora’s tribe, she decided to leave her home and explore the outside world. She wound up joining the Global Guardians, replacing Sigrid Nansen as Icemaiden, and became close friends with Beatriz Da Costa, the Green Flame.
When the UN transferred their funding from the Global Guardians to the newly-formed Justice League International, Bea and Tora joined the JLI, and soon after changed their codenames to Fire and Ice. There, Tora began an unlikely romance with the brutish Guy Gardner. After a series of adventures with the JLI, including battling her brother, who had tried to take over their home kingdom, Tora fell under the thrall of the world-conquering Overmaster, and was killed while resisting him.
Years later, Tora was discovered, alive but comatose, in Azerbaijan. The Birds of Prey rescued her from a mobster who was planning to use his captive ice goddess to manipulate the suspicious locals. Tora reunited with Bea, and has been tentatively rekindling her relationship with Guy.
(Recently, Tora got a new, retconned origin as a Norwegian gypsy possessing inexplicable ice powers. Her reluctant thief father hid her away from her evil grandfather, who wanted to exploit her powers, and when her grandfather finally caught up with them, Tora panicked and killed both men. There’s no explanation for the ice kingdom, or the rest of Tora’s family, who the rest of the JLI have all met. Since this new origin is racist and nonsensical (her new father’s name isn’t even Olaf!), I am ignoring it. It’s my blog and I can do that.)
So What’s So Great About Her?

There are many different kinds of strength. Unfortunately, comics tend to show just the one kind the brash, loud, hit-it-until-it-falls-down kind. Superheroes tend to be aggressive, flamboyant people who hit first and ask questions later.
Tora is a wonderful example of a different kind of strength. She’s soft-spoken. She’s humble. She’s gentle. She loves baby animals and romantic movies, and tries to keep the peace whenever possible, rather than charging headlong into a fight. She is deliberately so, of course a total contrast to her quick-tempered, flashy best friend and her antagonistic, bull-headed boyfriend.
And yet Tora’s quiet pacifism should never be mistaken for cowardice or weakness. She has always been fearless in battle and wholeheartedly willing to risk her life to defend others. In fact, she gave her life to save the world. And in terms of sheer power well, she’s an actual, literal goddess. I sure wouldn’t want to mess with her.
More remarkable than her physical power and courage in combat, however, is her strength of character. Tora surrounds herself with domineering personalities she’s clearly drawn to alphas. But no matter how aggressive the people around her are, she stays true to herself. She may give in to Bea on the little things, like entering a modeling contest or demanding a job from the JLI, but she never lets Bea’s dislike of Guy hell, the whole team’s dislike of Guy stop her from dating him. She may tolerate a few uncouth remarks of Guy’s here and there, but she demands that he treat her with respect, and she’s not afraid to walk out on him when he’s out of line. And she insists that they keep the peace when she’s around, something none of the actual leaders of the JLI were ever able to accomplish.
Tora could so easily be a pushover, bullied by her more assertive loved ones. Instead, she changes them, making Bea more thoughtful and level-headed, and Guy more rational and mature. If you’ve read even one panel featuring Guy Gardner, you know what a feat that is! Tora Olafsdotter: way more powerful than the Guardians of the Universe. (Also, taller.)
At the end of the day, Tora is a woman who could move mountains, but chooses instead to use her remarkable strength of character to love others, who are by far the better for it. Weak? Timid? I don’t think so.

Notable Appearances:
Tora’s branch of the JLI was renamed Justice League America with issue #26. She has also appeared in many issues of the other JLI-related books of the time, particularly Justice League Europe and Justice League Quarterly, but her main narrative is below.
Justice League International v1 #12-25
Justice League America #26-91
Showcase ‘96 #7 (this and the following two appearances are ‘was it really her?”-style posthumous appearances that will totally make you cry)
JLA Annual #2
I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League
Birds of Prey v1 #104-108
Checkmate v2 #16
Green Lantern Corps v2 #19, 20, 28, 29, 39, and 46
Blackest Night #1, 5, and 8
Justice League: Generation Lost #1-24
Tora will be co-starring in the upcoming Justice League International v3.

Maya Lopez (Echo/Ronin)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
First Appearance: Daredevil (vol. 2) #9 (1999)
Created By: David Mack & Joe Quesada
Biography

As Maya’s father, a Cheyenne mob enforcer nicknamed Crazy Horse, lay dying, he did two things that changed the course of his young daughter’s life: he touched her face, leaving a bloody handprint on her skin, and asked his boss to raise her. This was readily agreed to, despite the fact that the boss, Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, was the one who killed Crazy Horse in the first place.
Deaf from birth, Maya was initially placed in special education classes, but it soon became obvious that she was, in fact, a prodigy; she had a talent for music, art, and dance, and thanks to Kingpin, she also the benefit of the best education money could buy. She never forgot her roots, though, and when she was a young woman, she asked her foster father how Crazy Horse had died. The answer: he’d been murdered by Daredevil.
From there, she made it her mission to avenge her father’s death. Painting a memorial handprint on her face, she made the most of her powers (the ability to mimic whatever motion she sees) and sought to destroy Daredevil. She almost succeeded too, only stopped by the discovery that Daredevil was Matt Murdock, the man she was dating. (Kingpin had actually kind of set them up to exploit Matt’s weaknesses. What a matchmaker!) Once she figured out what the hell was actually going on, she was understandably furious and ended up shooting Kingpin in the face, blinding him. Poetic justice?
One ended relationship and a vision quest later, Maya reformed completely and joined the New Avengers as Ronin, a ninja whose costume completely concealed her identity and gender; later, she ditched the persona and went back to Echo. This was a pretty unawesome time for her, considering she got murdered and resurrected, and also because she basically had no friends on the team, other than Wolverine (sort of). But at least she got to bang her hottie bad boy teammate, Hawkeye.
Since leaving the team, she’s been working undercover as a stripper, because this is comics.
So What’s So Great About Her?

In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Daredevil went through a renaissance of sorts, becoming a top-shelf book (not the porno kind) with both high quality art and writing. I read it avidly for several years, but when it comes down to it, the things I remember best about the era were the amazing Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada run…and Maya.
More than anything else, this was because of her design, which is incredibly striking, and the arty splash pages that mark her time in the book. But the more I think of it, the more I realize that Maya has the potential to be an absolutely amazing character, if she were just given a little more face time and room to grow.
I mean, look what she’s got going for her. She has a beautiful, memorable design (honestly, I remembered her costume details but not the fact that she can’t hear, which is actually not a good thing). She’s brilliant in a fairly unusual way for comics, but it’s still a huge asset to her crime-fighting. She’s a woman of color who is usually depicted as being such, instead of a white girl with a great tan; as an added bonus, her Native American heritage doesn’t tend to get very stereotypical, the occasional vision quest aside. She’s also a hero with a disability, which is very, very rare in comics, though Marvel’s not depicting that as well as they should.
So Maya has all the marks of becoming a strong, progressive, thoroughly kick-ass hero. And yet she gets ignored; she only pops up occasionally in the Marvel Universe, despite a stint on an A-list superhero team. There are so many places where she could shine—I just wish she were given more of a chance.
Notable Appearances

Daredevil (vol. 2) #9-15; 51-55
New Avengers (vol. 1) #11-13; 27-39; annual 2
Secret Invasion #1-8
New Avengers (vol. 2) #7
Moon Knight (vol. 4) #2

Lulu Moppet (Little Lulu)

Publisher: Originally, The Saturday Evening Post. When Lulu joined the comic book world, she was published by Dell. Dark Horse Comics currently owns the reprint rights.
First Appearance: February 23, 1935 edition of The Saturday Evening Post
Created By: Marjorie Henderson Buell aka ‘Marge’
Biography

Lulu Moppet lives with her parents, George and Martha, tiny dog, and cat (a female inexplicably named Christopher) in a suburb where a kid can get nearly anywhere just by walking. Her best friend is supposedly a little girl named Annie, but her main partner in both crime and adventure is the aptly named Tubby Thompkins; their relationship goes from a mutual quasi-crush one minute to barely tolerated disdain the next. That’s pretty much how I remember my grade school crushes too.
Lulu’s a bright, creative girl, and she usually has the best of intentions, but sometimes her imagination gets the best of her, leading to accidental mayhem. She’s also feisty and has a well-developed sense of moral outrage, which usually emerges when the neighborhood boys tease her for being a girl. A lot of her adventures center around her attempts to infiltrate their ‘boys only’ club, much to their dismay. Unfortunately for the boys, she’s smarter than all of them and almost always gets the better of them.
When not championing feminism, Lulu is often found babysitting neighborhood sociopath Alvin Jones (the elaborate fables she tells him are amazingly hilarious), running errands for her mother, and playing with dolls. Oh, and she sometimes helps ghosts solve their problems. For serious.
So What’s So Great About Her?

When I was a little girl, my familiarity with Little Lulu came from a few animated shorts. I don’t think I even realized she was a comic book character, and even if I had, it wouldn’t have mattered. When I initially got into comics, my interests were solely superhero-based and remained so for well over a decade. I wish I’d read Little Lulu as a kid, though, because in the two years since I’ve discovered these comics, Lulu’s become one of my very favorite female characters, full stop.
Lulu is one of those very rare characters who’s mischievous but manages to also be totally likable. She usually doesn’t mean to cause chaos; in fact, more often than not she’s a nice, helpful girl, a voice of reason for selfish, opportunistic Tubby to clash with. But while she’s very clever, she’s also never takes the time to ponder the full effects of what she’s doing. In this way, despite the cartoon-y nature of her stories, she’s also a very realistic child, which I love.
It also helps that she’s extremely brave and rather fierce. Granted, Tubby is a coward, but he’s also a male chauvinist. Yet he’s the first to acknowledge that Lulu has a way of solving problems, whether it’s with her brain or a fearsome snarl. But she’s also so feminine—she’s often busy minding her baby dolls, almost always wears her little dress and matching cap, and is absolutely always depicted in her signature ringlets.
So Lulu proves that you can be a strong, forceful person without sacrificing your femininity. No wonder Friends of Lulu, a group that promotes women readers and creators of comics, chose her for their mascot. Lulu’s constant attempts to break into the boys’ club was also pretty symbolic to FoL, which was frustrated by the male domination of both the comics industry and fandom. I think Lulu would heartily approve of her namesake, and not just out of vanity (though, being Lulu, that would be part of it).
Also, I have to say that her comics are genuinely some of the most hilarious I’ve ever read, and considering some are over 60 years old, that’s really saying something. (Have you ever read ‘funny books’ from the Golden Age? Let’s just say that sometimes tastes in humor don’t pass down from generation to generation.) There’s a timeless quality to them, and it always lifts my spirits to find an amazing comic that I would feel comfortable handing to a child.
In conclusion, go read Little Lulu. I mean, right now. I’ll wait.

Notable Appearances

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The world came crashing down on happy-go-lucky socialite Janet van Dyne when her scientist father was killed. Vowing revenge, she talked his genius colleague, Hank Pym, into sharing his ‘Pym particles,’ which give people the ability to grow or shrink. For good measure, he also added wings and fire blasts to her power roster, and together they started teaming up as Ant-Man and Wasp. It wasn’t long before their relationship grew romantic, even if they had a tendency to bicker.
Jan and Hank remained a couple for several years, during which they also became founding members of the Avengers. (In fact, Jan named the team.) But it wasn’t until after Hank had an accident with some chemicals, causing him to start developing different personalities, that they headed down the alter. This ended up not working out so great for her as his mental state grew more erratic. During the course of her breakdown, he was verbally and, on one occasion, physically abusive. Understandably, Jan divorced him, though they continued being a couple off an on after Hank stabilized. She also dated some of her hot teammates, like Tony Stark and Hawkeye. (Him again!)
During the recent Secret Invasion storyline, a Skrull posing as Hank injected her with some super-cool-fun growth hormones. Turns out this really turned her into a bomb of sorts, and she was on the verge of exploding and taking out civilians when Thor was forced to kill her. Everyone was sad.
In her honor, Hank took up the mantle of Wasp, except now he’s Giant-Man again. I guess he’s over her.
So What’s So Great About Her?

I’m hard pressed to think of a superhero, male or female, who’s more fun than Jan. From her powers to her friendly, flirtatious personality to her endless stream of costume changes (for an amazingly exhaustive list of her eight billion costumes, check out this site), Jan is just an exuberant force of nature. With every scan I looked at for this post, I found myself wondering whether I’d rather have a BFF just like her or be more like her myself. She’s magnetic.
What’s even more interesting is that she’s always been this way. In the 1960s, particularly under the legendary Lee-Kirby helm, women were mostly present to serve as both a domestic mother figure and a place to stick a thought bubble filled with tearful, secret pining for some dude. When they were actually heroes, they often joined the good fight through relatively passive means (i.e., Sue accidentally getting hit with cosmic rays, Jean just being born a mutant, etc.).
Not so with Jan! She actively wanted to be a hero…or, she wanted to avenge her father with superpowers, and heroics came as a side dish. Either way, it was something she knowingly courted. And while her early comics with Hank are filled with typical romantic hemming and hawing, Jan often muses about her feelings for him right in front of him. Screw you, thought bubbles! And when he ignores her, Jan has zero problems flirting with any warm man-body to make him jealous—and to have a little fun.
Speaking of Hank, for someone with the reputation for having one of the worst relationships in comics, Jan is actually a rare woman in comics who doesn’t have terrible taste in men. While he might have been a squoosh old for her and maybe a little staid at times, Hank was actually a pretty good guy at first. It just so happened that he lost his mind. None of the abuse happened before his accident, and the one time he hit her, he was particularly lacking in lucidity. Which is not me trying to say that this makes it totally okay that he abused her—not at all. But if it’s not clear that there were mitigating circumstances to the abuse, it makes the fact that she got back together with him down the road sort of horrible.
In any case, Jan is beautiful, vibrant, and strong, and provides an enduring legacy to the Marvel Universe. So, naturally, she was killed off, and despite a recent tease at a resurrection, she remains dead. Shortly after her death in the main Marvel U, her Ultimate version was also murdered. When you do a Google Image search for ‘Janet van Dyne,’ the first result that pops up is a full-page illustration from Ultimatum graphically depicting her corpse being eaten by the Blob.
That pretty much sums up almost everything I hate about comics these days.
Notable Appearances

Tales to Astonish #44-69
The Avengers #1-75
Marvel Feature #6-10
The Avengers #137-278
Marvel Team-Up #59-60
West Coast Avengers #32-69
Solo Avengers #15
The Avengers (vol. 3) #1-84
The Avengers #500-503
Avengers Finale
Beyond! #1-6
Mighty Avengers #1-20
Secret Invasion #1-8
Incredible Hercules #129

Elvira Coot Duck (Grandma Duck)

For this last day of May, we’re ending our month-long tribute to mothers with a bit of an odd duck. rimshot The world of comics is not all superheroes!
Publisher: Disney, and whatever companies currently hold the Disney licenses in various countries (so, like, a lot of companies).
First Appearance: Donald Duck newspaper strip (as a painting in 1940, in person in 1943)
Created By: Al Taliaferro
Biography:

Elvira was born in Duckburg, Calisota, the daughter of Clinton Coot, founder of the Junior Woodchucks, and granddaughter of Cornelius Coot, founder of Duckburg itself a very illustrious pedigree, duckishly speaking. She married Dabney Duck (sometimes called Humperdink), with whom she started a farm and raised three children Quackmore, Daphne, and Eider.
When Scottish billionaire Scrooge McDuck moved in next door, hot-tempered Quackmore fell in love with one of Scrooge’s sisters, the equally hot-tempered Hortense. They eventually married and had twins, Donald and Della, and then seem to have just…disappeared, leaving the twins with Elvira and Dabney. Matters were made even more difficult when Dabney passed away, leaving Elvira to run the farm and raise her grandchildren no mean feat where Donald was concerned!
At the tender age of 20, Della married and had triplets: Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Then she abandoned them to the tender mercies of their ‘Unca Donald,’ and hasn’t been seen since. Somehow, Donald managed to turn three even worse hellions than himself into model young ducklings, but it’s widely agreed that he wouldn’t have managed without the calming influence of Elvira, as well as her father’s Junior Woodchucks.
Now Elvira is the matriarch of four generations of ducks, running her farm with the ‘help’ of her lazy great-nephew Gus (and, occasionally, the mice from Cinderella. Disney comics are weird).
So What’s So Great About Her?

Disney comics have a long and storied tradition, though they’re not very widely read in the US. The biography above is based mainly on the work of Don Rosa, following an informal family tree laid out by the all-time king of Duck comics, Carl Barks. In older Italian comics, Scrooge and Elvira are brother and sister, and in others, they’re cousins, though those traditions have mainly been supplanted by the Barks/Rosa storyline.
But Donald and his family are cartoon characters, existing continually in the present and wearing the same thing every day, and so the details of the past are less important than those of today. Regardless of tradition, some things are always true about Grandma Duck: she runs a farm, she raised Donald, and she helps him keep Huey, Dewey, and Louie in line.
That alone would be enough to make her awesome. Running a farm is really freaking hard work, and Grandma has done it basically alone since her husband died, since Gus is pretty much useless. (Actually, considering his main characteristics are ‘lazy’ and ‘gluttonous,’ he’s probably worse than useless.) Raising three kids is also really freaking hard work, especially as difficult kids as the Duck family tends to turn out, and Grandma Duck was, by all accounts, an excellent mother.
But Elvira went above and beyond, raising her grandchildren and running the farm alone despite her grief (not only had her husband just died, but it’s probable that Donald and Della were left with Elvira because Quackmore and Hortense were dead). That’s a heroic effort. And though no one really knows what became of Della, Donald turned out all right hot-tempered and foolhardy, sure, but basically good-hearted and happy. And the nephews are paragons of little ducky virtue (in the comics, at least).
Disney comics can be unkind to female characters (Barks’s depiction of Daisy makes one want to weep), but Grandma Duck is consistently portrayed in a positive light. The undisputed matriarch of the whole motley clan, she’s strong, capable, and self-reliant, yet also nurturing and cozy, ready at a moment’s notice to provide a plate of fresh-baked cookies and some sound advice or a boot in the bottom and a no-nonsense talking-to. She takes no guff from her hot-headed grandson or his blustery uncle, and is Daisy’s go-to for help and guidance despite the fact that until Donald puts a ring on it, they’re not actually related. (Well, probably not. The Duck family tree is tangled.)
Donald may be a star and Scrooge may be a fantasticatrillionaire, but there’s no question who wears the pants in the Duck family…
…Actually, no one. Lack of pants-wearing is a longstanding family tradition. But Grandma Duck is most definitely the lady in charge.

Notable Appearances:
Grandma Duck has never had her own title in the US, but she’s had over ten thousand appearances worldwide (I told you Disney comics were big!), and over 500 comics in the US alone. You can find a full list of her appearances here. Nowadays, you’re most likely to find her in Walt Disney’s Comics, currently being published monthly by Boom! Studios.