New or returning to Marvel comics, or have a friend who is? Here’s the Cliffs Notes on Marvel’s female-led solo titles and 15 lead female characters RIGHT NOW in August 2014:
1. Captain Marvel
WHO SHE IS: Carol Danvers is an Avenger, pilot, and all-around butt-kicking leader who can fly, has superhuman strength, and shoots energy blasts. She formerly used the alias Ms. Marvel. Carol has recently left Earth to be an “Avenger in space” traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Captain Marvel, written perfectly by the peerless Kelly Sue DeConnick, has one of the biggest and best fan followings in comics: the #CarolCorps! Carol defends displaced, marginalized people groups, and forms new friendships with other adventurers. Also check out Guardians of the Galaxy.
2. Ms. Marvel
WHO SHE IS: Kamala Khan is a New Jersey teen who is Pakistani American, Muslim, a huge Avengers fan, and who suddenly became a super-strong shapeshifter when her powers were activated, revealing that she is an Inhuman (a race in the Marvel Universe with powers).
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Ms. Marvel, by writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona (Runaways). It’s one of the most entertaining Marvel comics and is easily accessible for new Marvel readers, requiring zero familiarity with any other comics.
3. Black Widow
WHO SHE IS: Natasha Romanov is an Avenger, ex-KGB spy, S.H.I.E.L.D. (spy organization on the side of the good guys… usually) agent, and a deadly assassin.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Black Widow by writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto is riveting and gorgeously illustrated. A perfect comics entry point if you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you want more of her interacting with Hawkeye, Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman), and S.H.I.E.L.D., read Secret Avengers.
WHO SHE IS: Jennifer Walters is a smart, cosmopolitan lawyer who gained super-strength after a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner, aka Hulk.
WHO SHE IS: Ororo Munroe is a mutant with the power to control weather. She leads the majority of X-Men as one of their main leaders. She’s been worshipped as a goddess, is the former queen of a nation, and is headmistress of the Jean Grey School.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Storm, her solo title by writer Greg Pak and artist Victor Ibanez, just started on July 23, so now is the time to start reading it. Also, she is a major character in X-Men, Amazing X-Men, and Wolverine and the X-Men.
WHO SHE IS: Known as “the world’s deadliest assassin,” Elektra is one of the most skilled martial artists in the Marvel Universe. Now with her solo title, she is finally choosing her own stories separate from her long history of working for an organization (The Hand (a ninja clan), S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra) or being the supporting cast in someone else’s story (Daredevil).
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Elektra by writer Haden Blackman and artist Mike Del Mundo has some of the best art you’ll see in comics, period. She’s also in Thunderbolts with other grittier characters like Punisher and Red Hulk.
WHO SHE IS: Originally a character in the Spawn comics, Angela is now a fixture in the Marvel Universe and has recently traveled with the Guardians of the Galaxy. She is a fierce warrior with a severe, no-nonsense personality and unrivaled fighting skills. She was raised among angels and was thought to be an angel, but recently in July 2014, it’s been revealed that Angela is Thor Odinson’s sister and is Asgardian.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm by Jason Aaron and Al Ewing is a miniseries concurrent with Marvel’s larger Original Sin event, but you don’t have to read any of Original Sin to understand The Tenth Realm. The miniseries reveals Angela’s secret history and connection to Asgard. In November 2014, Angela will get her own solo title: Angela: Asgard’s Assassin, by writers Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett and artists Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans.
WHO SHE IS: Known as “The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe,” Gamora is the adopted daughter of Thanos (a supervillain and classic Avengers foe). She is the last of her species and was raised by Thanos to be an assassin. No longer loyal to Thanos, she joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Guardians of the Galaxy.
9. Hawkeye (not that Hawkeye)
WHO SHE IS: Kate Bishop is a Young Avenger and the Young Avengers’ frequent field leader, the best archer on the planet (take that, Clint), the daughter of a rich, mostly absent father, and my favorite person in comics. She’s 18 or so, doesn’t care for her privileged upbringing, has hung out a lot with Clint Barton and saved his ass repeatedly, and recently left NYC for Los Angeles with Clint’s dog, Lucky.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Hawkeye, by writer Matt Fraction and artists David Aja and Annie Wu. Can we say enough good things about Annie Wu’s illustrations of Kate? No, we can’t.
WHO SHE IS: Queen of the Inhumans, a race that previously resided in a city called Attilan, but who are now dispersed after Attilan was destroyed, and many humans around the world were activated in their powers and revealed to be Inhumans. Her husband, Black Bolt, has mysteriously disappeared, leaving her to deal with the aftermath of this major change in the Inhumans’ status quo. She has psychokinetic ability to animate her hair.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Inhuman, by writer Charles Soule and artist Joe Madureira. Later this fall and going into 2015, she’ll play a major role in Marvel’s Avengers NOW! initiative.
11. Nico Minoru
WHO SHE IS: Powerful spell-casting teenage witch and wielder of the Staff of One, former Runaways leader, daughter of secretly evil parents (now deceased). Ended 2013 by surviving Avengers Arena.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Avengers Undercover, by writer Dennis Hopeless. Undercover follows the survivors of Avengers Arena. It’s one of Marvel’s few books featuring a teen cast. The survivors are now living in Bagalia, a sovereign state completely inhabited by villains. Nico and her friends masquerade as bad guys while weighing their post-traumatic future.
WHO SHE IS: Monica Rambeau is a long-time Avenger and former Avengers team leader. She can transform into pure electromagnetic energy, fly, shoot energy blasts, and move at super-speed. She previously used the aliases Pulsar and Captain Marvel.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Mighty Avengers, by writer Al Ewing and artist Greg Land. Along with Luke Cage, Falcon, She-Hulk, and other Avengers from New York City, she fights villains in a title filled with action scenes and great team dynamics.
13. (Young) Jean Grey
WHO SHE IS: One of the Original Five X-Men who has been brought from her original 1960’s-ish timeline into the Marvel present. Thus, she’s still a teen, still discovering her telepathic and telekinetic powers, and recently discovered that her abilities are more powerful and unpredictable than her adult (deceased) self’s. Jean is also a wide-eyed ingenue whom the boys fight over, of course.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: All-New X-Men by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stuart Immonen. All of ANXM’s plotlines have revolved around Jean, who attracted the attention of both the alien Shi’ar and the Future Brotherhood, an evil band of mutants who time-traveled from the future to attack her.
14. Kitty Pryde
WHO SHE IS: Long-time X-Men member, a favorite student of Professor Charles Xavier, and more recently a professor at the Jean Grey School whom students affectionately called “Professor K.” Loyal to the teenage Original Five, she left with them for Cyclops’ rival school and home. Has the ability to phase through solid objects.
15. Invisible Woman
WHO SHE IS: Sue Storm is the matriarch of Marvel’s “First Family,” the Fantastic Four. She’s a strong, resolute leader and doesn’t let anyone, least of all her impassive husband, Reed Richards, sway her decisions. She has powers of invisibility and force fields.
WHERE TO FIND HER RIGHT NOW: Fantastic Four, by writer James Robinson and artist Leonard Kirk.
loudlysilent (Draven Katayama) writes for Newsarama and Geeked Out Nation, contributes to the X-Men podcast Mutant Roundtable, and writes something non-comics related every Tuesday at loudlysilent.com. Say hi on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
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Marvel Comics is making Thor a woman. From Time Magazine:
TIME: How do you think this will impact fans who have been with the male version of Thor for such a long time?
Jason Aaron, writer of the Thor series: If you’re a long-time Thor fan you know there’s kind of a tradition from time to time of somebody else picking up that hammer. Beta Ray Bill was a horse-faced alien guy who picked up the hammer. At one point Thor was a frog. So I think if we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman being able to pick up that hammer and wield it for a while, which surprisingly we’ve never really seen before.
ASK CHRIS SPECIAL EDITION: THE BEST OF ‘ASK CHRIS’
This week marks the 200th installment of ComicsAlliance’s weekly Ask Chris column, in which senior writer Chris Sims tackles reader questions that send him delving into comics history, the metaphors at the heart of his favorite characters that have developed over decades and, every now and then, straight up fan-fiction.
To mark the occasion, we’ve gone back through the archives (and taken a quick poll of readers) to sort out the absolute best of the past 200 columns, covering topics like the secular humanism at the heart of Scooby-Doo, the complicated chronology of Super Mario Bros., the 75-year competition between Marvel and DC, and more. And Batman. So, so much Batman.
Some of the items discussed:
- Why Doesn’t Batman Kill?
- Batgirl Walks Again
- Scooby-Doo And Secular Humanism
- Why Spider-Man Is The Best Character Ever
- Bob Kane Is Just The Worst
- Building a Better Superhero Costume
After 19 years, Bill Watterson, the reclusive creator of Calvin and Hobbes returns to cartooning as a secret guest artist in Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine (read the whole story on Stephan’s blog).
Bill Watterson is fascinating.
This is delightful.
Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning. He is legendary. He is reclusive. And like Bigfoot, there is really only one photo of him in existence.
Waaaaay back when we got a newspaper I loved Pearls Before Swine and back before I got into webcomics I would read newspaper comics online because my first foray into comics was via newspaper comics– specifically the collections of Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, The Far Side, and Bloom County we had, as well as others from the library like Foxtrot, Mutts,and maybe Non Sequitur? Did that have collections or did I just read that obsessively I can’t remember now for a while I followed it because its Sunday strip had a huge narrative arc and I collected it all digitally at one point, shit, do I still have that?
I’m getting off track.
At any rate I wish I had been keeping up with Pearls Before Swine as well as I had been when I was middle school or even early high school because it’s still funny and holy shit apparently this happened and it’s glorious and you have to read about it or at least see the three strips that BIll Watterson drew they are wonderful