Just Giblets

Michael’s Favorite Marvel Superheroines

22nd July 2009
by Michael

Michael’s Favorite Marvel Superheroines

posted in Comics |

Friends and acquaintances of mine know that I buy comics; superhero comics, and a lot of them. I read primarily DC and Marvel comics, and have since around 1969. Recently I was talking to Scot about all the superhero movies, how popular they all are, and how i don’t really like most of them. That’s when it hit me. I’m not really a comics fan. I am intrigued by stories of women with super powers. When written well (which isn’t all that often) women with superpowers are fascinating. They should not behave like super men with breasts. They should have a different way of looking at the world, even when they’re fighting crime. At least I think so. Here is the list of my 20 favorite superheroines form the Marvel universe.

  1. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman – Marvel’s first superheroine was basically a plot device to be kidnapped and threatened so the men could rescue her for the first 10 or so years of her existence. Originally she could just turn invisible, but fairly soon afterwards, she discovered (though the help of her scientist husband, of course) that she could control an incredibly powerful invisible force powered by her strength of will. The glue that keeps the Fantastic Four together, what makes Susan Storm Richard so fascinating for me is the fact that first and foremost she is a mother. The fact that she has super powers and fights evil is not what defines her. When written well, she exhibits this dichotomy in complex and fascinating ways. It’s too bad she’s written poorly so often.

  2. Medusa


    Medusa – Medusa also made her debut in the pages of the Fantastic Four, as the female version of that super team’s villainous counterpart, the Frightful Four. She was everything that Susan Storm was not: vicious, unrestrained, wild, physical. However we soon learned she had amnesia, and was in fact queen of the Inhumans, a strange, hidden people genetically bred by the alien Kree. As Queen it is Medusa’s role to be the voice of her husband and King, Black Bolt, whose destructively powerful voice must be ever kept silence. Medusa’s power is her living hair which she uses in amazing and sometimes deadly ways. Medusa has seen resurgence in popularity lately, and she has been well-written in most of her recent appearances. In addition to her striking physical appearance and power, Medusa is a fascinating character because she is the Queen of a people, who follow a King who cannot speak. She interprets his every gesture and mood, yet recently, when her King was taken and kidnapped, she was forced to lead on her own, overcoming great obstacles and successfully rescuing her husband. She is strong-willed and passionate and a talented diplomat.

  3. Moondragon


    Moondragon – Here’s a complex character who suffered a brief period of villainy by writers who couldn’t figure out how an arrogant, powerful woman who thought herself superior to those around her could be a hero. As a child, Heather Douglas was involved in a car accident caused by the mad Titan Thanos that killed both her parents. Young Heather was rescued by Titan’s ruler, Mentor, and transported to Saturn’s moon to be trained to master both her body and her mind. Her perceived superiority became her undoing, allowing a powerful mental parasite, the Dragon of the Moon, to take hold in her mind and corrupt her. Through her struggle with the Dragon of the Moon, we see that Moondragon is in fact a deeply heroic character who struggles every day to be the best she can be, and through her fear of failure, overcompensates by trying to be perfect. Her recent relationship with Quasar, one of the few gay relationships in comics has brought out a more gentle side of Moondragon, and although her apparent death at the hands of Ultron was disappointing, recent developments show she may be on her way back to the pages of comics. Moondragon’s struggle with heroism and abrasive personality make her one of the most fascinating heroes in comics.

  4. Mantis


    Mantis – Mantis’ origins are actually tied to Moondragon’s through the manipulations of the alien plant-race called The Cotati. Both Mantis and Moondragon shared similar training in the ways of the body and mind to prepare them for the possibility of becoming the Celestial Madonna, a human who would mate with a Cotati to bear the savior of the universe. Despite maintaining absolute mastery of her body, and a mental prowess that manifested as a mysterious empathic nature, her very human nature made Mantis flawed and fascinating. After her ascension to near-godhood as the Celestial Madonna, she gained an affinity with plant life along with her green-tinged hue. Her recent appearances find her being labeled a mentat, with telepathic and precognitive powers. It remains to be seen whether she maintains her godlike abilities of control over plantlife. Mantis remains mysterious, but her warmth and humor have come to the surface during her time as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

  5. Clea


    Clea – Clea comes from the Dark Dimension where Dormammu, a powerful, tyrannical mystic rules with an iron fist. Dormammu and his sister Umar are two of the Faltine, a race of extra-dimensional energy-based beings in semi-human form. Clea is the daughter of Umar and a human disciple of Dormammu named Orini. During one of Dormammu’s attempts to take over Earth, Clea came to the aid of Dr. Strange, Sorceror Supreme, and became his disciple, learning the mystic arts, and also his lover. Later Clea rallied the people of the Dark Dimension into rising up against Umar, and their faith in her caused the “Flames of Regency” to appear around Clea’s head. The Flames of Regency made Clea powerful enough to defeat and banish Umar and her father Orini from the Dark Dimension, and Clea took the throne. Subsequently Clea and Strange exchanged vows and became one according to the laws of the Dark Dimension. Clea hasn’t been seen in comics in recent years, her evolution from powerless alcolyte, frequently kidnapped and threatened in her first appearances gave way to a intelligent, passionate, self-sacrificing, and powerful mystic, ultimately ruling the Dark Dimension for a time.

  6. Marrina


    Marrina – Marrina was a member of the Canadian team Alpha Flight, and an honorary member of the Avengers. She is a part of the alien species called the Plodex, a barbaric race who seed other planets with eggs that imprint upon the first life form they encounter. The egg that contained Marrina was submerged in the Atlantic Ocean, which accounts for her amphibious nature, but was found by a fisherman whose wife was the first being she encountered. Raised in a small village in the Maritimes, Marrina grew up to be a sweet, warm young woman. But during an early mission with Canada’s Alpha Flight, she learned that her race was a deadly, monstrous one, and her genetic make-up caused her to occasionally succumb to vicious savagery. After marrying the Namor, the Sub Mariner, Marrina became pregnant, and her Plodex genes reacted to this by transforming her into an enormous sea serpent that caused incredible amounts of destruction. To save lives, Namor was forced to slay his own wife with a mystic sword. However, unknown to Namor and Marrina’s friends, she reverted to her humanoid form and was found by the villainous Master, who kept the comatose Marrina prisoner. Marrina’s amphibious nature allows her to exist underwater as easily as on land. Her Plodex nature gives her lithe form great strength and resilience, as well as devastating claws that secret a paralyzing poison. She can move at incredible speed on land, and especially in the water, even to the point of creating enormous waterspouts which can propel her kilometers inland as a means of transportation. Marrina’s sweet-natured personality and innate goodness, ever at war with her savage heritage make her a fascinating character to explore.

  7. Jocasta


    Jocasta – Jocasta is a robotic heroine whose brain patterns were based on the Avenger known as the Wasp. Jocasta was created by the lfe-hating robot Ultron to be his bride. Yet along with the Wasp’s brain patterns came part of her personality, including her innate goodness causing Jocasta to turn against Ultron and siding with the heroic super team, the Avengers. During her time with the Avengers, Jocasta exhibited some of the wit and warmth of the Wasp, but was more introverted and unsure of her place among humans. Jocasta’s body is composed of titanium steel with remarkable superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and reflexes. She has a variety of abilities, including energy projection and manipulation, hyper-intelligence and perception and superhuman cybernetic analytical capabilities. Jocasta has recently returned to comics as a member of the Avengers full-time. I am looking forward to her regular appearances and seeing how they examine her personality with the recent death of the Wasp, and being a teammate with the Wasp’s ex-husband Hank Pym.

  8. Firebird


    Firebird – Bonita Juarez was a Roman Catholic Missionary in New Mexico when an encounter with a radioactive meteorite gave her the ability to generate and control flame. She has served as a member of the Southwestern team, The Rangers, and eventually and Avengers West Coast. In one of her most notable appearances, during a brief time where she changed her name to La Espirita, she saved Hank Pym from committing suicide. The two grew very close, and she was able to direct him on a new, affirming path, helping him to overcome several failings from his past. On a subsequent mission with the Avengers, she discovered that she is immortal, and poisons and radiations have no effect on her. She is also immune to demonic possession, can survive in the vacuum of space, and has a limited form of precognition. While these aspects of her power have never been fully explored, it has given her a unique outlook on her life given her faith as a catholic. She even helped Thor, the Asgardian god of thunder, to better understand the importance of the bonds he develops with mortals. What makes Firebird’s character so fascinating to me is her devout faith and how she reconciles that with her super-heroics.

  9. Valkyrie


    Valkyrie – Valkyrie is both the name and the designation of the Norse Goddess Brunnhilde, leader of the Valkyries, the Choosers of the Slain who bring fallen heroes to Valhalla. For many years Brunnhilde’s soul was forced to exist within the body of a mortal woman, Barbara Norriss. Much of Valkyrie’s tenure as one of the Defenders was while she was in Barbara’s body. While she still possessed great strength and unparalleled battle skills, those abilities were a pale reflection of what she was capable of once she was finally reunited with her true, Asgardian body. In addition to the exponential increase of strength, Brunnhilde regained her quasi-mystical powers of sensing the advance of death that is the nature of all Valkyries. Valkyrie went through some pretty confusing times before she regained her true form and all of her memories, and it was during this time that I grew to love her conflicted character. Once she regained her true form and the memories that went with it, her personality changed considerably, but she remained a fascinating character, a goddess with the power to face death and live.

  10. Karma


    Karma – Karma (Xian Coy Manh) is a mutant who came to America from Viet Nam among the exodus after the war where her father was part of the South Vietnamese army. During their journey, her father was killed by Thai pirates, and she and her mother were both raped before her mother died as well. Xian was forced to mature quickly as she became the sole provider for her two younger siblings, her twin brother having been rescued years earlier by their crime-lord Uncle Nguyen. Upon arriving in the States, Nguyen tried to force Xian to work for him the way her twin brother did, and kidnapped her two younger siblings to try and force her. Using her psionic ability to possess others, she took control of Spider-Man in an attempt to rescue her siblings. Ultimately, Xian was able to free her younger siblings, but in the process was forced to combat her twin brother and essentially psychically absorbing him in to her psyche. From there Xian was placed in Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Children where she became one of the founding members of the New Mutants, the training ground for the next generation of X-Men. Karma is an interesting character as she is defined both by her strict Catholic upbringing and her emerging lesbianism. She is generally soft-spoken and kind but is courageous and dogged in her determination, having frequently to go up against impossible odds to protect her family.

  11. The Scarlet Witch

    The Scarlet Witch

    The Scarlet Witch – Wanda Maximoff is the mutant daughter of X-Men villain Magneto. She and her twin brother Pietro were raised by gypsies in Eastern Europe before falling in with their as-yet-unknown father Magneto, and his band of evil mutants. Wanda and Pietro turned their lives around by becoming members of the Avengers and learning about heroism from Captain America himself. It was with the Avengers that Wanda fell in love with and married the android the Vision, studied under the witch Agatha Harkness to learn true witchcraft to augment her mutant powers to affect probabilities, and mature out from behind her brother’s over-protective shadow to become a fierce, courageous heroine in her own right. Years ago the Scarlet Witch topped by list of favorite superheroines because of her fiercely strong will that was often expressed in impatience and ferocity against those who wished her ill, or were just ignorant, exposing their prejudices against either mutants, or the fact that she was married to an android. I blame writer John Byrne for the beginnings of the systematic destruction of her character, as he altered her powers, made her go insane, then destroyed her husband and two children, laying an unstable groundwork that later writers would occasionally pick up on. Kurt Busiek, a writer I generally like, furthered her descent in my eyes by having her behave in ways I felt were out of character, and current Marvel star-writer Brian Michael Bendis put the final nails in her coffin by turning her into a crazy villain with the power to alter reality (he picked this up from Byrne’s storyline) and had her kill her friends and depower millions of mutants. It is only for her long history that she is still on this list at all, although she has recently returned to the pages of the Avengers and I remain hopeful that she will become a fascinating character again.

  12. Jean Grey

    Jean Grey

    Jean Grey – One of the founding members of the X-Men, Jean Grey, known originally as Marvel Girl, then as Phoenix, was a telepath and telekinetic of unparalleled power. During a mission where she had to pilot a space shuttle back to earth to save her beloved friends, her body was ravaged to near death when she passed through intense solar radiation. She was saved by a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix, who took Jean’s form and life while allowing her original body to recuperate. During that time, the Phoenix, whose powers manifested as the ultimate expression of telepathy and telekinesis, to the point of godhood, went insane and destroyed a world. During the resulting struggle with the Shiar and the X-Men, it was Jean’s capacity of heroism and self-sacrifice that allowed the Phoenix to apparently allow itself to be destroyed, saving the world. Jean later returned (in a story that was a cheap as it was poorly written) and became a mainstay of the X-Men again. Since then her power levels have fluctuated, with the Phoenix force returning time and time again as it’s legendary namesake would suggest. Jean’s fiery ferocity was tempered by a warmth and level-headedness, making her an intriguing character to read.

  13. Sif


    Sif – The Lady Sif; accomplished warrior, Asgardian goddess, but most of all, Thor’s girlfriend. I first started to like Sif during a time where she wore a gauzy, feminine dress with a mini-skirt that seemed oh-so incongruous for a warrior. Sure she was capable with a sword, but she usually just fretted about Thor, pined that he loved Earth so much that he was never in Asgard (read: loved humanity more than her) or was threatened by the villain (usually Loki) so Thor would become enraged. I think I first grew to admire Sif during Thor #189-190, when Thor succumbed to the touch of Hela, goddess of death. Sif argued with the ice-hearted goddess, explaining to Hela about love, and finally offering herself in Thor’s place. Sif’s pleas touched Hela’s heart and she spared Thor. It was one of Thor’s most important battles, and for a change, Sif won it for him. Since then Sif has been portrayed as more of a warrior, and I especially enjoy the stories that show Sif among humans.

  14. Snowbird


    Snowbird – Snowbird is the daughter of the Inuit goddess Nelvanna and a mortal man. She was conceived to battle the “Great Beasts” of Canada. To do this, she utilizes a series of supernatural abilities, most notably the ability to take the form of any animal, real or mythical, that his native to Canada. Some of her other abilities include flight, mystical senses, super strength, and a limited precognitive ability. During her earlier appearances she was tied to Canada geographically, and moving beyond its borders caused her to wither. This limitation has vanished since her first death and resurrection, where it was revealed she was able to celluarly regenerate. It was definitely Snowbird’s otherworldly appearance that first drew me to her. Her pale blonde here and empty black eyes, coupled with her jagged white and blue cloak were really cool. I also enjoyed the inherent contradiction of her god-like wisdom and her youthful inexperience. Her recent appearances as part of the “God-Squad” where she teams up with Hercules and other gods to battle the alien Skrull god have been nice to see.

  15. Gamora


    Gamora – The last of her species, Gamora was saved as a child by the Mad-Titan Thanos.  He raised her and trained her to be a weapon mand assassinate The Magus, an evil, alternate version of Warlock.  Thanos trained her in a deadly form of martial arts, and she soon picked up the nickname, “The deadliest woman in the galaxy.”  As a tean she was beaten and raped by a gang of interstellar thugs.  Thanos found her, killed her attackers, and saved her life by cybernetically augmenting her to superhuman levels.  While she ultimately failed to assassinate the Magus, she did help Warlock to defeat him before the two turnied on her former savior Thanos.  For a time she became romantically linked to Warlock and helped him protect the Inifinity Gems, becoming herself the caretaker of the Time Gem.  After parting ways with Warlock, Gamora decided to reestablish her reputation as the deadliest woman in the galaxy.  She led a band of women warriors called the Graces and became involved with the earth-hero Nova, saving the galaxy from the Annhilation Wave.  Now Gamora is a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, reluctantly reunited with her past lover Warlock, and her former ally Drax the Destoyer.

  16. Diamondback


    Diamondback – Rachel Leighton started her career as a supervillain associated with the Serpent Society.  This brought her into conflict with Captain America several times.  She was instantly smitten with the nobel hero and despite the fact that they fought on opposite sides of the law, Diamondback eventually left the Serpent Society and tried her hand at superheroics spending time with Captain America both as an ally in crimefighting and as a girlfriend.  The Serpent Society, assuming Rachel had betrayed their secrets to Captain America, kidnapped her and put her on trial.  She was rescued by Captain America and cut her ties with the Society.  She did retain her friendship with her ex-teammates Black Mamba and the Asp, with whom she formed BAD Girls, Inc. The trio shared a few adventures before disbanding.  Rachel’s relationship with Captain America eventually cooled, and Rachel found herself working on both sides of the law for a time.  Recently she became a member of one of  the government’s Avengers: Initiative teams.  As Diamondback, Rachel is an exceptionally skilled fighter, and is preternaturally skilled at pitching small objects.  She uses a variety of diamond shaped throwing weapons that are filled with various substances such as nitric acid, plastic explosives, or tear gas.

  17. Kitty Pryde

    Kitty Pryde

    Kitty Pryde – Katherine Pryde was a teenaged mutant discovered by Professor Xavier and the X-Men and invited to attend their School for Gifted Youngsters.  She was also approached by Emma Frost, the White Queen, to attend the Massachusetts Academy another school for mutants run by a one of the high court of the Hellfire Club.  Kitty instantly bonded with Storm, who was traveling with Professor Xavier, and went to Westchester, NY to learn with the X-Men.  At first she was kept from combat situations as she finished her schooling and learned how to use her powers effectively, but it wasn’t long before she was an active member of the team, using various codenames including Sprite, Ariel and Shadowcat.  Kitty acquitted herself well with the X-Men, eventually embarking on a relationship with Colossus.  She was briefly reassigned to the New Mutants, the X-Men’s junior team, much to her irate chagrin, but quickly proved to Professor Xavier that she deserved her place on the main team.  She shared a dark adventure with Wolverine in Japan where she spent time possessed by a demon, the Ninja Ogun.  This experience left her with ninja skills in addition to her mutant ability to phase through solid objects.  When Kitty phases through electronic devices she disrupts them.  Kitty also possesses a genius level of intelligence.  Kitty spent a lengthy period with the British team of mutants, Excalibur, before returning to the X-Men for Joss Whedon’s run on the series.  Kitty was last seen fused to a deadly “bullet” traveling through space.  She managed to save the earth by phasing the bullet through the planet, but has not been found since and is presumed lost.

  18. Martyr


    Quasar/Martyr (Phyla-Vell) – Phyla-Vell is the second artificially created offspring of the Kree hero Captain Marvel, who died of cancer before she was born.  Phyla came into existence after her brother Genis-Vell re-created the universe.  After helping to restore Genis’ sanity with the help of the mother Elysius, Phyla entered a relationship with Moondragon and the two traveled the stars.  Phylla was next seen during the Annhilation War when Thanos uses the pair to lure Drax the Destoyer (Moondragon’s father) into the conflict.  During the final conflict, Annihilus destroyed Wendell Vaughn’s (the original Quasar) mortal form and usurped the quantum bands from him.  Phyla manages to wrest the bands away from Annihilus and helps Nova to ultimately destroy him.  Phyla decides to honor Wendell’s memory by continuing on as the new Quasar.  Phyla and Moondragon are reunited and spend their time together helping the galaxy recover from the War.  During this time they bcome involved with the galactic struggle against the Phalanx.  During this struggle Phulla discovered her self-worth and heroism while Moondragon succumbed again to the Dragon of the Moon, physically beoming a dragon before falling before the deadly wrath of Ultron.  Feeling lost after Moondragon’s death and the subsequent defeat of both the Phalanx and Ultron, Quasar joins up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Phyla, along with Drax the Destoyer, entered the land of the dead to find Moondragon, and while there she strikes a deal with the Dragon of the Moon in exchange for Moondragon’s life.  Phyla emerged from this conflict with new abilities, a new look and a new codename, Martyr.  Phyla is superhumanly strong, and acts as an energy sponge, absorbing energy and firing it in the form of energy blasts.  During her time as Quasar she was in possession of the Quantum Bands.  Her new role as Martyr has found her with new unknown powers and acting as the avatar for Oblivion.

  19. Photon


    Photon – Monica Rambeau is a former police officer who accidentally gained the superhuman ability to transform herself into energy and back at will.  She joined the Avengers as a trainee with the name Captain Marvel, so she could learn how to use her powers.  She became a protege of Captain America’s, rising quickly through the ranks of the Avengers until she bacame their leader.  After seriously injuring herself in a battle with Leviathan (the transformed Marrina) she took a leave of absence and found herself in comics limbo because most writers didn’t like to write her due to her vast powers.  When she did emerge again, it was as leader of a new team called Nextwave.  Her return also featured a change in attitude and personality from an earnest do-gooder to a bad-ass, angry black woman.  What has remained constant is her desire to do good and her powerful abilities.  Moinca is able to transform herself into any form of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum.

  20. Polaris


    Polaris – Lorna Dane appeared in the early issues of the X-Men as Iceman’s girlfriend, but it was sooned revealed that she herself was a mutant as well; a mutant with the power to control magnetism.  The X-Men’s arch villain Magneto claims to be Lorna’s father and kidnaps her, but she is rescued by the X-Men and joins with them, eventually turning her romantic attentions to Havok much to Iceman’s disappointment.  After a battle with Krakoa the Living Island that sees the formation of the New X-Men, Lorna and Havok retire from the team to pursue more scientific endeavors.  However the two are continually drawn back to the X-men to face a variety of challenges.  When the government agent Val Cooper forms X-Factor, Havok and Polaris are founding members.  During this time, Lorna becomes a mainstay of the team and the government’s secret weapon against a possible attack from Magneto.  During this time Havok and Polaris ended their romantic relationship and Lorna leaves the team to travel with Magneto to Genosha in order to keep an eye on him.  When the Sentinels destroyed Genosha, the trauma left Lorna emotinally scarred and metnally unstable.  Lorna is currently reunited with Havok romantically and the two are in space fighting alongside the Starjammers.

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