Because nobody asked, here is a list of some of my favorite comic book super-heroines, in Alphabetical Order. Some of these characters have had multiple costumes and even multiple versions and origins. I have chosen images of them in my favorite costumes and versions, often how they were depicted when I first discovered them.
Batgirl: Barbara Gordon, daughter of James Gordon, Commissioner of Gotham City, has a doctorate in library science. She is inspired by her father’s career and Batman and becomes a crime fighter, training under Batman to hone her fighting and detective skills. She possesses a genius-level intellect, photographic memory, deep knowledge of computers and electronics and expert skills as a hacker.
Batwoman: Kathryn Kane was originally created to be a love interest of Batman to dispell public concerns that his relationship with Robin was promoting homosexuality. The original version – “Kathy” Kane – on the right in yellow – was a wealthy heiress who developed acrobatic skills during her career as a circus trapeze artist and stunt cyclist. She was infatuated with Batman, and became the costumed crimefighter Batwoman to gain his attention and affection, utilizing her acrobatic and riding skills, as well as the contents of her utility purse, which were actually weapons disguised as stereotypical feminine products such as lipstick, cosmetic compacts, charm bracelets, and hair nets, to fight crime. Although she was ridiculous, I developed an infinity for her, perhaps due to her outlandishness and rare appearances – I’ve always been a sucker for obscure characters. Ironically, Batwoman was reimagined in 2006 as a strong, tough, independent, red-haired, out lesbian ex-marine (in the red on the left), now known as “Kate” Kane, with no romantic ties to Batman whatsoever, although she did admire his mission and tactics. While originally chastised by Batman for trying to be a crime fighter, she eventually earns his trust and respect, and has become one of his most valued allies and “co-captains” in his war on crime, often leading small teams of “Bat Family” members like Batgirl and Robin on missions. I love both versions of this character, for different reasons. (Funny that I’m not a big fan of Batman, but love almost all the female derivatives.)
Black Canary: Dinah (Drake) Lance, martial artist with a “Canary Cry,” an ultrasonic scream that can daze opponents or shatter solid objects. Originally from a parallel Earth. Member of both the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America and currently a member of the Birds of Prey along side Batgirl and the Huntress.
Black Widow: Natalia “Natasha” Romanoff, Russian spy, martial artist with a “Widows Sting” weapon in her bracelets, able to stun her opponents, who defected to the US and became a crime fighter. Previous member of the Avengers and the Champions.
Darkstar: Laynia Petrovna, Russian Mutant who controls a darkforce that she can use to form solid shapes, protective shields, and fly. Formerly a member of the Champions and the Soviet Super Soldiers.
Firebrand: Danette Reilly, sister of Rod Reilly, the first Firebrand. Unlike her non-powered brother, Danette developed the ability to generate flames and eventually fly, after being struck by a lightning bolt and plummeting into a vat of mystical lava. Firebrand was a member of the All-Star Squadron.
Firestar: Angelica Jones, originally appearing in the animated series Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends as a substitute for the Human Torch, Firestar is a mutant born with the ability to generate microwaves radiation, allowing her to fly and create intense heat and flames. She eventually made her way into comic books and became a member of the Hellions, New Warriors, the Avengers and the X-Men.
Hawkwoman: Shayera Hol (Shiera Hall) an alien from the planet Thanagar who came to earth with her crime-fighting partner and eventual husband, Hawkman. Utilizing the Nth metal in her wings and belt to fly, ancient weapons such as the mace, and an innate ability to communicate with birds, Hawkwoman became a member of the Justice League of America as well as fighting crime solo or along side her similarly avian-themed spouse.
Huntress: Helena Wayne, daughter of the original Batman and Catwoman from an alternate Earth (the same one as Black Canary, above), fights crime using her athletic prowess, detective skills and utility belt inherited from her father and mother.
Invisible Woman: Susan (Storm) Richards, wife of Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic, and one quarter of the Fantastic Four. After being exposed to Cosmic Rays during an experimental space flight, Susan obtained the ability to render herself, other people and objects invisible, as well as generate almost impervious invisible force fields which she can use as protective shields, battering rams, and transportation.
Mary Marvel: Mary (Bromfield) Batson, the twin sister of Billy Batson aka Captain Marvel, was separated at birth from her brother and who, after reconnecting as teenagers, discovered she shared the ability to shout “SHAZAM!” and call down the magic lightning that would endow her with super powers. (Mary Marvel was one of the first female spin-offs of a major male superhero, and predates the introduction of Superman’s female cousin Supergirl.) Originally, Mary Marvel did not derive her “SHAZAM” powers from the same male mythological figures who empower her brother Billy. Instead, they were from a set of female benefactors:
- Selena for grace
- Hippolyta for strength
- Ariadne (later changed to Artemis, Greek Goddess of the hunt) for skill
- Zephyrus for fleetness (and flight)
- Aurora (later changed to Greek Goddess Aphrodite) for beauty, and
- Minerva for wisdom
Although these deities were originally described and depicted as goddesses, Zephyrus is actually a male god. In addition, the list does not account for all of the superhuman traits shared by Billy and Mary, specifically Captain Marvel’s powers of invulnerability, stamina, and courage. Her origin has been altered to reflect that she know derives the same powers from the same gods as her brother:
- Solomon for wisdom,
- Hercules for strength
- Atlas for Stamina
- Zeus for Power
- Achilles for courage, and
- Mercury for Speed
Medusa: An Inhuman, member of the Royal family of Inhumans, and sometimes spouse of the King, Black Bolt. She was exposed to the transformative Terrigen Mists, mutating her and giving her the ability to manipulate and expand her near invulnerable elastic hair to use as a weapon, protective barrier and form of transportation. Medusa has been a member of the Fearsome Four (a quartet of super-villains) during a bout of amnesia, and the Fantastic Four, filling in for the Invisible Woman.
Ms. Marvel: Carol Danvers was an officer of the USAF and a security chief who was wounded and exposed to radiation when she was caught in the explosion of an alien Kree device (a Psyche-Magnetron) while being rushed to safety in the arms of the Kree-born alien superhero, Captain Marvel (not the Shazam – Captain Marvel, as mentioned earlier.) Ms. Marvel originally possessed superhuman strength, endurance, stamina, flight, physical durability, a limited precognitive “seventh sense”, and a resistance to most toxins and poisons. She has been through many changes, developing stellar energy powers and changing her name to “Binary”, then returning to her Ms. Marvel identity, before settling into her current identity as Captain Marvel, named after the original who had since perished. The image on the left is her original costume, the one on the right was a redesigned look that happened during the run of her original series. This is one of the few instances when I prefer the re-design over the original, perhaps because it is more distinct from the costume of the male hero from which she took her name and inspiration.
Power Girl: Kara Zor-L (Kryptonian birth name,) known as Karen Star in her adopted earth identity, is from an alternate Universe’s Krypton and Earth (same as Black Canary and Huntress, above) and is the counterpart of Supergirl and first cousin to her Earth’s Superman. Power Girl came to earth long after her cousin arrived, and was raised by Clark (Superman) Kent and his Wife, Lois Lane Kent. Power Girl has all the powers of Superman, including superhuman strength, speed, senses, invulnerability and the power of flight, although she is not as powerful as her other earth counterpart, Supergirl. Power Girl started her career as a member of the Super Squad, alongside the now Adult Robin of her Earth and the Star-Spangled Kid, but eventually took her cousin’s (Superman’s) place in the Justice Society of America and later joined the younger generation of heroes in Infinity, Inc. She is best friends with Helena (Huntress) Wayne.
Sabra: Ruth Bat-Seraph is an Israeli born superheroine. She was raised by the Israeli government after her mutant powers manifested. She was the first superhuman agent to serve the Israeli secret service and became a police officer in addition to serving as a government agent. Sabra has superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, endurance and stamina. She is also able to charge other individuals with her own life energy, enhancing their physical state of health and granting them low-level super-powers until she withdraws them by retrieving her life energy. In addition to her own mutant powers, she wears a cape that allows her to fly and two bracelets that shoot “energy quills” which paralyze the nervous system of any person they touch.
She-Hulk: Jennifer Walters is an attorney and the cousin of Dr. David (Bruce) Banner aka the Incredible Hulk. After being gun downed by the members of a mob that had a vendetta against her father, Jennifer’s life was saved by an emergency blood transfusion from her cousin. Because they shared the same blood type and DNA, Bruce’s radioactive blood, combined with Jennifer’s anger-induced adrenaline, resulted in Jennifer’s transformation into the green-skinned She-Hulk during a second attack by the mobsters who tried to finish her off at the hospital. Although her original transformation was caused by anger, like her cousin, Jennifer eventually gained control of her transformations and no longer requires rage to change to her super powered alter ego. Unlike her cousin, Jennifer likes and prefers being the She-Hulk, and rarely returns to her non-powered, human form, even while she’s practicing law. She-Hulk (affectionately known as “Shulkie” to her friends) has superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, and reflexes, all of which increase in direct correlation to her level of anger or fear, meaning the angrier she gets, the stronger she gets. She-Hulk has been a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, filling in for the Thing.
Spider-Woman: Jessica Drew is a private investigator and Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who, at a young age, became gravely ill from months of uranium exposure due to spending so much time in, and living near, her father’s laboratory in Transia. To save her life, her father injected her with an experimental serum based on irradiated spiders’ blood resulting in her developing super-powers, including superhuman strength, speed, senses, stamina, agility, and reflexes. Further, she has a high resistance to poisons and toxins, is able to fly, cling to solid surfaces (known as “wall crawling”,) and generate bio-electric blasts from her hands, referred to as her “venom blasts.” One of the negative effects of her irradiated system is that she exudes a high concentration of pheromones that elicit pleasure and attraction in men and revulsion in women, although she uses a chemical “perfume” that renders these pheromones inert.
Spitfire: Lady Jacqueline Falsworth was the daughter of the British aristocrat, Lord Montgomery Falsworth, who had been known during World War I as the costumed champion Union Jack. While working with the British Women Volunteer Service during World War II, Jacqueline was attacked by a vampire and suffered a great loss of blood. To save her life, she received an emergency synthetic blood transfusion from the original, android Human Torch (not the one mentioned above.) Upon recovering, Jacqueline discovered that she could now move at superhuman speed and used her new-found powers to battle the Axis along side the Allies and Captain America, the Human Torch and the Submariner as a member of the Invaders. (Yeah, her costume looks just like Firestar’s – I wonder if the latter was influenced by the former, although red and yellow are common color schemes for fire and speed powered heroes.)
Supergirl: Kara Zor-El is the Kryptonian born cousin of Clark (Kal-El) Kent aka Superman. Unlike Superman, who came to earth as an infant, Kara came to Earth as a teenager, after spending the first part of her life with her Kryptonian family on Argo City, a floating, domed city that survived the destruction of Krypton. Once on Earth, Kara adopted the identity of orphan Linda Lee and was eventually adopted by the Danvers changing her name to Linda Danvers. She used her powers in secret, training as Superman’s “Secret Weapon,” until such time that Superman felt she was ready and revealed her presence to the world as his super powered cousin, Supergirl. In her secret identity as Linda Lee, Kara had many professions, including student, student advisor, actor, and TV camera operator. She became a member of the future based team the Legion of Superheroes, like her cousin before her, splitting her time between the present and past, protecting the world with her superhuman strength, speed, stamina, endurance, senses and power of flight. (Note: Although I was not originally a big fan of Supergirl, I fell in love with her while reading the 1985 12-issue mini-series “Crisis on Infinite Earths” wherein the original Kara sacrificed her life to save the other heroes, including her cousin, Superman. The issue in which she died is the first time reading a comic book made me cry, and I have been a fan ever since, collecting as many back issues of her appearances as my budget would allow. While I am not thrilled with much of her characterization in the oft-rebooted DC Universe versions of her, I am warming up to her current series, as I believe they have finally returned the essence of what makes her such a special and loveable character.)
Wonder Girl: Donna Troy, adopted sister of Diana aka Wonder Woman. (This character’s past has been revised and retconned – retroactive change in continuity, origin and/or character – so often it’s mind numbing. I’ll stick to the original elements of the character and origin I’m fond of.) Wonder Girl was originally a young Wonder Woman, but was eventually written to be a separate and distinct character. Wonder Woman rescued her, as an infant, from a burning building and, unable to find any living relatives, brought her to Paradise Island, where she was given Amazonian powers by the Amazon’s “Purple Ray” and raised on the island as Wonder Woman’s adopted Amazon sister. It wasn’t until she left the island and joined the teenage “sidekick” super hero team, the Teen Titans, when she adopted the name Donna Troy as a civilian identity. Donna eventually traded in her original costume (on the left), an homage to Wonder Woman’s costume, for the red and yellow costume she wore (on the right) for much of her career before changing ot a couple more times. Like Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl has superhuman strength, speed, endurance, the ability to glide on air currents, bullet deflecting bracelets and an almost unbreakable golden lasso, although her lasso was not magical and could not compel people to obey or be truthful, like her adopted sister’s lasso.
Wonder Woman: Diana Prince/Princess of Themyscira aka paradise Island. (Is anyone shocked about this addition to my list?) Although originally taking the secret identity of Diana Prince, the more recent versions of Wonder Woman have dropped the civilian identity and name all together and she now just goes by Diana, Princess of Themyscira, or Wonder Woman. Diana was born on the island of Themyscira, to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. As it was an Island of Women, which did not allow for the ability to bear a child by the usual biological methods, the Queen, longing for a child, sculpted a baby in the clay-like sand on the shore of the island and beseeched her gods and goddesses to imbue her clay sculpture with life and give her a child. Her wish was granted, and Diana was born, gifted with a fraction of the god’s powers. She was raised on “Paradise Island” but her natural curiosity filled her with a longing to explore beyond its shores. After a pilot, Steve Trevor, crashed his plane on the Island, the Amazons nursed him back to health and, learning of the wars, greed and hatred that raged in the outer world, competed in a series of contests to determine the fastest, strongest and most skilled of them all to escort Steve back to America and help battle evil in all its forms. Diana is forbidden to compete by her mother, but as all contestants wear masks to ensure anonymity and fairness, she is able to compete and easily wins all of the contests. Begrudgingly, her mother accepts the outcome of the contests and Diana leaves with Steve, taking her place in the world of costumed heroes, quickly becoming the world famous and loved Wonder Woman. Although the story has been modernized over the years, changing her origin a bit and the reasons she left the Island, the gist is generally the same. As Wonder Woman, Diana utilizes her superhuman strength, speed, endurance and stamina to fight crime, as well as her bullet-deflecting bracelets and unbreakable magic lasso to compel other to know, see or admit the truth. Although she has been famous for flying an invisible jet, that means of transportation was abandoned some time ago and she has since been given the power of flight. Easily one of the most (if not the most) iconic super heroines of all time, it is hard to find someone who genuinely dislikes Wonder Woman, or some version of her. (I think we have Linda Carter to thank for that.) And I KNOW I’m not the only little gay boy who twirled more than once hoping that a magic flash would transform me into a Wonder Boy.
Zatanna: Zatanna Zatara is the daughter of Giovanni Zatara and shares his innate magical ability to perform spells by speaking enchantments in reverse, referred to as “backwards magic.” One of the most powerful magicians in the world, Zatanna makes a living as a stage magician and illusionist, the world at large assuming her magic is all fake, sleight of hand and optical illusion. Zatanna originally met and worked with other super-heroes while searching for her missing father, and eventually joined the Justice League of America. Although she originally wore, and eventually returned to wearing, a modified stage magicians outfit (top hat, tails, tuxedo shirt and fishnets) this interim costume is the first one I ever saw her in and, although it is almost universally disliked, I prefer it over the more pedestrian magician’s outfit. It just seems more unique and super-heroish to me. But, whatever she’s wearing, senioreh etirovaf ym fo eno llits s’ehs.
So there you have it. Not a complete list, for sure, but several of my favorites. Hope you enjoyed learning more about super heroes than you ever cared to know.