Recently, 11 year old DC fan Rowan Hansen has helped reinvigorate the discussion surrounding the presence of women in superhero comics. Her letter to DC (and their prompt Twitter response) has had people talking more about the visibility of female heroes, as well as how it impacts the lives of young readers like Rowan. Of course, this has been a conversation that’s been going on for years. Not just in comics, but in TV, movies, and video games, as fans and creators alike call for more diversity in their media.
Now, I’m not a big DC reader; in fact, there are quite a few writers here on Comic Booked who do a good job of covering DC affairs, so I’ll leave that to them. The superheroes I know best come from Marvel’s side of the store shelves. Some of Marvel’s best-known female characters currently have ongoing titles, such as Captain Marvel, Storm, and Black Widow. Elektra and Spider-Woman have titles of their own as well, and Kate Bishop shares her title with Clint Barton in the pages of Hawkeye. The upcoming series A-Force will feature an all-female roster of heroes, where beloved characters like She-Hulk, Medusa and Dazzler will be joined by brand new heroes such as the genderless Singularity. Even cult favorite Squirrel Girl has her own monthly series, following her adventures as she navigates the confusing world of college.
To appeal to younger readers and meet the demand for new female characters, Marvel has also released several titles about their latest generation of heroes. They’re young, they’re capable, and they’re here to tell bold new stories for today’s audiences. So let’s take a minute to talk about Marvel’s new kids on the block, Ms. Marvel, Silk, and Spider-Gwen.
Kamala Khan is the every-girl hero readers fell in love with from her very first appearance. She’s just your average girl from Jersey City, with a giant teleporting dog and superpowers to boot. As a character, Kamala gives her audience a lot to root for: she’s young, she’s nerdy, and after spending a lifetime looking up to Marvel’s pantheon of heroes, she’s doing her best to become the hero she knows she’s destined to be. Ms. Marvel is an exuberant superhero adventure romp that sticks to the classics of cape book storytelling while still delivering smart, socially relevant stories to today’s diverse comic book audience.
Fresh from the pages of Spider-Verse, Cindy Moon is a complicated hero. After spending ten years in a bunker, Silk has emerged to find that the world, as well as her family, has left her behind. From the powers to the occupation, Cindy’s story serves as a clear parallel to the origins of Peter Parker. It’s the details, however, searching for her family as she tries to figure out the complexities of life in 2015, which make her story all the more poignant. Cindy is determined but deeply conflicted, capable but unsure of herself, and I’m already eager to see where she goes from here.
Another new addition from the Spider-Verse event, Spider-Gwen has already found a place in the hearts of fans. In a parallel world where Gwen Stacy is bitten by a radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker, Spider-Gwen flips the script on one of the most important moments in Marvel’s history. While her death in main continuity marks a dramatic turning point in Peter’s life, proving that innocents will always pay the ultimate price when the hero fail, this fresh spin on her character takes the Spider-Man lore in an interesting an direction. She’s the drummer in an all-girl rock band, a vigilante in a slick costume, and the hero of her own story. Yes, with great power comes great responsibility, but Spider-Gwen’s going to do it on her own terms.
Who are some of your favorite female Marvel heroes? Let us know in the comments below!