Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Thoughts for the Holidays: The Six Most Fascinating Women of the DCU

Gail Simone asked a question on her tumblr:
Who are, to you, the most FASCINATING DC female characters?

They don’t have to be heroes, or fighters, or any particular label. But which female characters do you find the most fascinating?

I answered with a quick list on my Tumblr, but I think something like this deserves a little elaboration. I came up with six off the top of my head:

Iris West II/Impulse II -- It's no secret that I love speedsters, and really Wally and Linda's daughter has had my attention since she was just a Kingdom Come Easter Egg. Now she's in continuity, as a little girl speedster with a superhero father. I want to see more of her, in any timeline.

Katma Tui/Green Lantern -- She will always be compelling to me beyond her status as a Green Lantern or her romantic entanglements for this scene:

She built a MACHINE to measure the strength of her own devotion. What kind of mind does this?

Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire -- Carol's a Silver Age love interest who dumped the hero because she got promoted above him, then developed a secret identity to woo his secret identity. And that identity is now retconned to hosting the embodiment of love, and wielding pure love as a weapon.

I don't care what they do to their costumes, or what icky issues about relationships the writers let spill into the page. That concept will always be interesting.

Queen Hippolyta -- I would be so very happy if when this WW reboot is over if they kept Hippolyta as the WWII Wonder Woman somehow, and had her alive again. First off, her dynamic with Diana is one of the things that makes Wonder Woman unique as a hero. Most major heroes seem to be orphans. Diana's mother is still alive, breathing, and used to getting her way in all matters without any questioning. Diana, on the other hand, is a deeply independent woman.

This is a woman who talked the gods themselves into letting her have a kid without going through all the annoying dating motions. This is a Head of State, and a full-working one not a figurehead, who is still a devoted mother.

I think the most sriking thing for me is that the Golden Age Wonder Woman traits--the passionate lover and fighter--that I adore so much are very prominent in Hippolyta. Not only that, Hippolyta's the one who, unlike Diana, can let those traits take her too far in battle and in romance. She's my favorite Wonder Woman supporting character, and if they wiped the cast clean of everyone but Diana and her and started over tomorrow I wouldn't really be pissed off.

Kate Kane/Batwoman -- The majority of Gotham heroes aren't just Bat-followers, they're downright Bat-worshippers at times. Whether they get along with Bruce or not, most of them seem to pin their every move on what he approves of. Catwoman, for a long time, was the only one who seemed immune to this Awe of Bat. Then they gave us Kate.

Batwoman, though, is not a follower or a worshipper of the Batman. She was inspired by him, but she's driven by a greater need to serve than emulating him./ That's what made the point when she first saw Batman in her origin tale so compelling. Someone attacks her, and she beats the crap out of him and when he's subdued she looks up to see Batman standing there and smirking at her. He'd been meaning to help her, but it was completely unnecessary and the fact surprised him enough that he had to stop and watch. He does, however, help her to put two and two together and realize that she can do the same thing--to her he's the bat that flies through the window. It's their entire relationship right now. He thinks she needs help, or needs him, but ends up watching in surprise because all she's ever needed from him was an idea.

More than any other character in the DC Universe, Kate is like Bruce. She's a perfect female counterpart. She has more than just the cosmetic similarities of a childhood tragedy and a ton of disposable wealth, she has the same reaction to that tragedy, she has the same drive, she even freaking FIGHTS like him. Think of the predatory aspect to Bruce in the Arkham Asylum game. Dick doesn't have that when he fights, Babs never had that, Helena doesn't have it and none of the younger set have it. Kate, though. Kate has it. She's like a freaking demon when she hits up the underworld. Red and black and pale as a fucking ghost, she's cultivated that manner that makes a criminal scared shitless not that she'll kill him, but that she'll wrap him in darkness and drag him to hell not if she catches him (because the second she's there he's caught) but just if she wants to. That's what keeps Bruce scary as hell without killing anyone, he just seems supernatural. Kate's got that feeling, possibly even moreso because she'll grin while she's after you.

Soranik Natu/Green Lantern -- Soranik was immediately interesting to me because from her first panel in Recharge #1 she had an obvious, unique role in the GLC. When you introduce the Chief Surgeon during a medical operation as your new Lantern, you pretty much guarantee that even if she's out on her first day with no training, and the only rookie on a mission with veterans she will still have something vitally important to add to the team.

It got better when they revealed that she did not want to be a Green Lantern. Being from Sinestro's homeworld of Korugar, she had a perfectly good reason to. By this time, Sinestro's long since been overthrown and replaced Katma Tui, and Oa's had time to make Korugarians aware that Lanterns are not MEANT to be evil. But knowing in your head and knowing in heart are two very different things, and no matter how beneficial a Green Lantern presents themselves to be Korugarians are going to be rightfully skittish and good many of them are distrustful of this organization at the root. She's got no reason to love the GLC, or admire them, and she knows joining will make her a pariah in her community. Her stated protest that the ring is "cursed" is what really intrigued me, though. She's a surgeon, and later on in the book they establish that she has a clear, logical mind, but she's still a superstitutious person to a point. Sinestro went bad. Katma Tui died across the universe from her homeworld. Bad things happen to people who wear that ring.

And of course, she swallowed her fear and took on the cursed and hated job of being a Green Lantern. Then later on, she gets romantically involved with Kyle Rayner, a guy who is 0 for 3 in surviving ex-girlfriends. She takes a cursed job, and a cursed man. I can't help but love that.

Then they make her concept better by revealing that her Dad is Sinestro. This is not just like finding out your Dad is Hitler. This is like being a German girl who was raised by the resistance and grew up DURING World War II and finding out your Dad is Hitler. It's actually rather disappointing in hindsight that they've focused on her relationship with Kyle rather than this insane bombshell of a revelation. She's the most fascinating woman in the DCU to me right now, and that's not an exaggeration.

In other positive-blogging Tumblr news, I wrote up a memorable moment for DC Women Kicking Ass. Flash Fact: the guy in the comic book store showed me that very moment to sell that book to me. Got me to buy the whole series.

Happy Yule, Everyone!


  1. Re: Kane & Natu: Yes! I'd say they are among the top most interesting DC characters in general (of course, this is coming from a Marvel guy, so FWIW). I keep expecting Natu to fall to the Kyle's GF curse... :( and Kate is one of the best new characters to come along in a long time. They are finally, to a degree, dealing with the Natu/Sinestro stuff as well.

  2. Who are, to you, the most FASCINATING DC female characters?Linda Danvers or Stephanie Brown

    They don’t have to be heroes, or fighters, or any particular label. But which female

    characters do you find the most fascinating?

    Marvel: Mayday Parker
    or Rogue. They're my top two Marvel characters.

    DC: Linda Danvers (again),Wonder Woman or Stephanie Brown. Linda and Steph just have a really great snarkiness to them plus they're sarcastic at villians-of-the-day...who wouldn't mind that? Wonder Woman. Always a classic warrior-chick with looks that can kill.-ealperin

  3. I love all of your examples of course. And may I add one of my own.

    Tora Olafsdottir, aka Ice. This may seem like a strange one, but humor me. I'm ignoring all of that retconned nonsense by Judd Winick by the way.

    Here's this sweet adorable, genuinely NICE young woman, who is a fairy-tale princess from a lost Ice Kingdom, with cool ice powers. She's sweet, demure and cuddly. And what does she do? She leaves her lost Ice Kingdom, and goes out into the world to fight injustice. A little like Wonder Woman, but without lusting after the first hot guy that she saw. She teams up with a hot GIRL, and they later join the Justice League, where she continues to fight the good fight and falls in love with a brain-dead asshole named Guy Gardner. Dies, comes back, and is STILL fighting the good fight. Gosh I love Tora.

  4. I always thought Saturn Girl was really interesting.