In honor of the recent announcement made by Marvel Comics that Thor (or maybe just the new wielder of Mjolnir) will be a woman, I thought I would throw out the Five Fiercest Ladies your library’s graphic novel collection should contain. This list is not comprehensive by any means, but its a good, diverse group.
And here we go!
#1 Rat Queens
The Rat Queens , Hannah, the rockabilly mage; Dee, a Cthulhu worshiping cleric, Violet, a hipster dwarf; and Betty, a drunk, drugged out lesbian halfling, are a D&D style campaign group entrenched in world of trolls, magic and mayhem. Together, they behave in a manner women are not traditional portrayed; they drink, do drugs, have sex, destroy buildings, and kill anything that gets in their way (but we all know women DO behave this way…at least every once in a while). As a Rat Queen, you play hard and drink hard, often causing trouble for the local law enforcement, something we usually see Thor and his compatriots do! It is wonderful having strong women kick ass!
The Batman universe has been a force in showing marginalized women in a mainstream comic book franchise. Raised in a military family, moving across the world, losing her twin sister, and joining the marines all took their toll on Kate Kane. However, when confronted about her lesbian relationship, she is dishonorably discharged from West Point. Directionless, the young socialite finds herself mugged in a back alley, only to be saved by Batman. This incident inspires her to become Batwoman. Her wealth leads her on a two year training odyssey, learning martial arts, acrobats, and developing technology similar to Batman. Everyone experiences rough patches in life, they are inevitable. The old phrase, “I never promised you a rose garden” comes to mind, and boy does Batwoman’s hair look like a bed of roses. Kate Kane is the perfect example of putting your special skills and bad situations into a pan together and make something constructive.
Jennifer Walters is one of my favorite superheros right now. A big city lawyer representing Superheroes and Super Villains alike, she inherited her Hulk powers from a necessary blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner. While her Hulk-ness is a milder form than Banner’s and does not require rage, this does not mean she isn’t scary. An intelligent and powerful lawyer,Walter’s often relies on wit and cunning to defeat the bad guy just as much as her strength. This iteration of She-Hulk does not define herself by her relationship to men, which seems to happen all too often. She is independent and runs her own law firm, and has an astute knowledge of the relationships around and how to use those relationships.
Bandette is the brain child of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover and born of the digital age. Originally a MonkeyBrain comic now collected in trade by Dark Horse, Bandette is a European style comic character and a plucky thief. But not that type of thief. Along with her group of friends including ballerinas, street children, a delivery boy, and Inspector Belgique, Bandette catches thieves, while skimming a bit off the top. What makes Bandette wonderful is her light-hearted nature, network of friends, and willingness to help those in need. We cannot go through life alone, and Bandette teaches us that sometimes we can only be as fierce as our friends.
#5 Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Disclaimer – I am a huge Buffy fan. My childhood consisted of dreaming of being Buffy. What is great about Buffy is that she is relatable and accessible, she goes through high school with the same trials and tribulations as all high schoolers, with the addition of vampires and werewolves. Students tend to be over schedule and Buffy is the archetype of the over scheduled teen, balancing her training, school work, social life, and family life. She has new family members appear out of thin air, and discovers she is not unique with the emergence of other slayers. Challenging our beliefs of what it means to have responsibility and be unique, Buffy is an amazing example of a strong, fearless, yet vulnerable young woman.
Honorable mentions: All the ladies of the Fables/Fairest Universes, Wonder Woman, X-Women of all shapes and sizes, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Josephine of Fatale, Willow of the Buffyverse, Nina Locke of Locke & Key, and Suzie of Sex Criminals, Batwoman, Batgirl, etc.