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Top 5 Women in Comics

Updated on February 25, 2017

Women characters have always been a part of American comics though they haven't always been as prominent as they are today. Sometimes they are over sexualized or one dimension due to poor writing and bad characterization but when done right they are some of the most interesting and compelling characters in comics. The names on this list come to my mind when I think of characters who were involved in major storylines, innovative, and had a cultural impact as well. Characters like Supergirl, Black Widow, Harley Quinn, Captain Marvel, Black Canary, and the Invisible Woman Sue Storm were all candidates but I narrowed it down to 5, well six.

1. Wonder Women

When you think about female superheroes the first name that comes to mind is Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is the most famous heroine of all time and is 1/3 of the DC Comics Trinity including Superman and Batman. She is the matriarch or archetype to all that followed her akin to what Superman is to the history of Comics. Wonder Woman or Princess Diana of Themyscira made her first appearance in All-Star Comics #8 in December 1941. She's had a few origin stories but probably the most popular are her being created out of clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta on the all-female island of Themyscira. After she was born she received blessings from a pantheon of Gods making her destined to become "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, as strong as Hercules, and as swift as Hermes. Other Origins have her being a demigod and the biological daughter of Queen Hippolyta and Zeus.

Her characters powers include super speed, super strength, super reflexes, expert hand-to-hand combatant, indestructible metal bracelets, and she also has a magic lasso of truth that she can wrap around someone and they are forced, to tell the truth, an ode to her creator William Moulton Marston who is also the inventor of the lie detector test..

For over the 75 years Wonder Woman has been more than just a comic character she has been a symbol of feminism and female empowerment. She's compassionate, headstrong and fierce, relatable, and sympathetic. Her reasons for being a hero are truly noble it is not built on revenge or vengeance and her service is solely to protect those who can't protect themselves.

Notable Non-comic Appearances

Wonder Woman has had various appearances in non-comic book media. She is probably most famous for her tv series which ran from 1975-1979 starring Linda Carter as Wonder Woman. in the DC Animated Universe, she has her own stand alone movies as well as being heavily featured in Super Friends, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited and Justice League Action. Wonder Woman made her live-action film debut in 2016 Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice portrayed by Gal Gadot. Gadot will reprise her role on June 3, 2017, in her first solo movie titled Wonder Woman and Justice League in November of the same year.

Suggested Reading

  • EYES OF THE GORGON written by George Rucka
  • PARADISE FOUND by writer/artist Phil Jimenez
  • CHRONICLES -BOOK 1 by William Moulton Marston

2. Storm

Storm is a great strategist, authoritative, a warrior, motherly, strong, and full of passion.She is arguably the best leader of the X-Men and has proven herself capable of making the tough decisions.Those are some of the many reasons Ororo Munroe, is one of my favorite comic book characters, regardless of gender, of all time. Oh, and she has the power to control the weather. More of why what I think about Storm in the link below

Suggested Reading

  • X-Men Storm Spotlight: X-Men: Worlds Apart #1-4 by Christopher Yost
  • Astonishing X-Men: Ororo - Before The Storm by Marc Sumerak

3. Jean Grey

Jean Grey who was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first appeared in X-Men #1 in 1963. She is one of the founding members of the X-Men and one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe. Initially given the code Name Marvel girl Jean Grey has been an important figure in the X-Men comics and Marvel Universe. She is the wife of Cyclops and best friend of Storm both fellow X-Men. She is also the protege of the teams' founder Charles Xavier. Throughout her run, in the comics, she has died and been reborn many times and became the physical manifestation of the cosmic entity the Phoenix Force. Grey's power first manifested when her best friend is hit by a car and killed. Jean links to her and nearly dies in the process. After she awakens from her coma her parents seek out Professor X (Charles Xavier), who in turn blocks her abilities until he feels she is able to control it. Years later he would recruit her to join his team of mutants. As a member of the X-Men, Jean is the emotional leader and has been a motherly figure to many of the new X-Men recruits.

Her mutant abilities as Jean Grey are telepathy and telekinesis. The levels to which she can use these powers make her an Omega-Level mutant which in the marvel universe are the mutants with the most power potential. When she is the embodiment of the Phoenix Force her powers become godlike allowing her to have Immense cosmic abilities involving cosmic fire, reality warping, space and time control, and life force control.

Notable Non-comic Appearances

Jean Grey was a prominent character in the animated series X-Men (1992-97) and X-Men Evolution (2000-03). She has also been portrayed by Famke Jensen four featured films and most recently in X-Men: Apocalypse played by Sophie Turner.

Suggested Reading

  • X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne
  • X-Men Origins: Jean Grey #1 by Sea Mckeever

4. Catwoman (Selina Kyle)

Selina Kyle's Catwoman is synonymous with Batman you really can't have one without the other. She was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger appearing in Batman # 1 in 1940 making her one of the oldest female comic characters. Her backstory is a tragic one. She grew up with an abusive father and walked in on her mother after she committed suicide. She ran away from home to get away from her father who resented her because she resembled her mother. While on the streets she resorted to a life of crime to support herself.

She’s an expert burglar, experienced in hand-to-hand combat, and is a superb acrobat all skills she developed while on her own.

Her character is a perfect example of human circumstance. She is sometimes ethically questionable and has never been a straightforward hero though she has had heroic moments. Her strong will and a special set of skills makes her one of Batman's biggest foils and occasionally his romantic partner.

Notable Non-comic Appearances

In the 1966 live action television series Batman, she was played by three actresses Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt. Currently, on the Fox series Gotham, she is portrayed by Camren Bicondova. She has also been apart of many of the animated shows involving Batman. Catwoman has been in many films as well. Michelle Pfeiffer was Catwoman in Batman Returns. Anne Hathaway played the role of Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises and Catwoman will appear in the upcoming movie Gotham City Sirens.

Suggested Reading

  • Catwoman-Vol-3: Relentless by Ed Brubaker
  • The Bat and the Cat” (Batman Confidential #17-21) by Fabian Nicieza
  • Catwoman Vol. 1: Trail of the Catwoman by Darwyn Cooke

5.Lois Lane

Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, Lois Lane's first appearance in comics was Action Comics #1 (June 1938) the same issue that introduced Superman. She has been the love interest for Superman and her job as an intrepid reporter has got her in some hairy situations leaving her in need of Superman's assistance. Lois Lane is more than just a damsel in distress, though. Lois is an independent woman who is the scholarly equivalent of Superman who will fight for the story and always search for truth. Lane has also had stints in which she was superpowered being both Superwoman and Red Tornado in various storylines. Lois is persistent and supports the individuals who are harassed or bullied and the individuals who can't represent themselves. In a world full of fantastical events she's a human with no special powers but plays as big a role in stories as her more "super" counterpart.

Notable Non-Comic Appearances

Many actresses have worn the mantel of Lois Lane for the nearly 80 years of her character's existence. In the 1940s Superman film series and 1950s television series Adventures of Superman actress Noel Neill portrayed Lois Lane. Margot Kidder played the character in four Superman films in the 1970s and '80s. In the 1990s television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Teri Hatcher portrayed her. Erica Durance played her in the '2000s tv series, Smallville. In the 2006 film Superman Returns, she was played by Kate Bosworth. The character was most recently portrayed by actress Amy Adams in the films Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

Suggested Reading

  • Adventures of Superman #627-632 “Unconventional Warfare by Greg Rucka
  • All Star Superman #2-3 “Superwoman” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
  • Lois Lane #1-2 by Mindy Newell and Gray Morrow

Honorable Mention: Buffy Summersr

I decided to filter this list by making it only about characters who originated from comics. So that eliminated Buffy Summers who was created by Joss Whedon for the 1992 film. Buffy made her comic book debut in the Dark Horse Presents 1998 Annual on August 26, 1998. Though she is not associated with comics the last decade the story of Buffy Summers has continued through comics picking up where the show left off. The impact of the character goes beyond comics. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer show has spawned many other shows influencing themes and structure of many shows 13 years after it ended.

Buffy Summer is the antithesis of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror film" she has the array of powers granted to Slayers like telepathy, incredible strength, speed, agility, endurance, a predatory instinct, and superior healing factor.

Notable Non-comic Appearances

Buffy is more known from television and movies originally appearing in the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer portrayed by Kristy Swanson. The most popular appearance though was the highly influential television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar. The Show ran for 7 seasons from 1997 to 2003. The popularity of the show is what led to the creation of the comics and sparked numerous spin-offs and adaptations.


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    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      4 months ago from London England

      Move over Wonder Woman ! The New Bat Woman is here.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      22 months ago from London England

      Lately i've developed a fascination for Batwoman as she is now getting much more prominence than when first introduced on the scene.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      2 years ago from London England

      Further to my mention of Lois Lane as an independent Lady able to take on men at their own game. Personally I'd rate Hollywood actress Phyllis Coates who appeared in the 1951 Superman movie as Lois Lane and first season as Lois Lane in the T.V. series as not too disimilar as the current Lois Lane.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      2 years ago from London England

      So glad that Wonder Woman made the number one slot as W.W. is enduring timelessly not only in comic book genre but other medium as well. Glad to see Lois Lane maturing into an independent Lady on her own merits.


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