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A question about female heroes

Thanks a lot for all the insightful comments about my WW post. It was really interesting, since this is not the type of comics I normally read, so I got a great bunch of new tips.

However, in the comments it was pointed out that there seemed to have been a change in the depiction of some of the female heroes. The ones mentioned were Power Girl, Huntress, Batgirl and Black Canary.

Are there any fans out there of comics with female heroes that feels that they were depicted more 'feminist' (or whatever word you fancy) in the past, but have now returned to being more 'meek' or just sidestepping the issue? Please note that I use those terms very loosely, because I am not sure how to describe them otherwise. Since I have not read any of these books, I would not know. So any information on what runs would be considered 'kick-ass' runs (by writer, numbers, year whatever) when they were more outspoken feminists (and used the term), and when they stopped would be most appreciated.

This is not just a DC thing, if you can think of any other books with female leads that have inexplicably 'changed', please give me a tip. I rarely read any form of mainstream comics, and I have an idea for another post, I just want to know where to begin.

EDIT: Also, for the moment, I am interested in american comics only. Especially if they have had the change since the turn of the milennium. Thank you.


( 58 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Somebody else is going to say Ms. Marvel - from fighter pilot, spy, novelist and editor of a woman's magazine to a vapid, self obsessed, self doubting, jack booted fascist who tore one her friends out of the arms of her daughter and send her to prison.

I actually like her.

Essential Ms. Marvel is going to be worth reading, though it is heavy going.

Also, while the subject is up, I'll ask "Did Marvel ever show J. Jonah Jameson's reaction when he found out that he'd been employing a superhero?"

Edited at 2009-06-20 01:59 pm (UTC)
Jun. 20th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, like I said before, I like flaws in heroes. This has nothing to do with likes or dislikes, I am interested in the larger picture. Do you have any information when this change was beginning to take place? My only knowledge of her character was back in the X-men/Binary days...
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Jun. 20th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
I think Valkyrie's had a lot of crazy back and forth from normal feminism to chop the men folk's heads off 'let's demonize feminisism' stuff.

Shoujo manga does this a lot. The main character will start out strong and self reliant and then take a nose dive into dependent wussland.
Jun. 20th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Valkyrie! Good, I need to check her out as well then. And at the moment, my interest is only in american comics!

I have my reasons.
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Jun. 20th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
There's always the Scarlet Witch's pseudo-Dark Phoenix meltdown. Hey! I'm John Byrne and I'm gonna' take away your spouse, your kids, and everything 'cause I like writing psycho killer bitches! Wheeee!!

Roast in the pit of Hell, John, and take all those other imitators of imitators with you. >:
Jun. 20th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
I think that in the case of Raven, she's been so bastardized by characterization that it's impossible to say where precisely she's ended up. Putting someone who's mentally 20+ in an early teenage body is kind of squick. To add more to it is to have someone targeting her like that Brother Blood 2.0 is doing. >.<

Though I'm not entirely sure demure, pacificist Raven of the Wolfman era really qualifies as a feminist example...
Jun. 20th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure it's possible to write a feminist "portal" at all. The whole concept of a girl/woman as "gateway to evil" and what-have-you is pretty damn tough to reconcile with the idea of a woman as ruler over her own life and fate. It's a tribute to Wolfman and Perez that they made it work on any level at all. Still, I'd be happy enough to never see it again.
Jun. 20th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure I would say the characters were ever outspoken feminists in-text, but I think there has been less prominence, emphasis and importance put on characters like Oracle, Batgirl and Huntress in the past couple years.

Black Canary was given prominence, emphasis and importance, but it wasn't really used, or at least, not used well.
Jun. 20th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
I'm never really sure with the word "feminist." It always makes me think of Wonder Woman, and how the stereotype against her is a bit tiresomely "feminist." There are the beautifully horrible straw-feminists in "Amazons Attack" of course.

All I can think of are the ones who made me feel empowered just by reading them. I don't know how often the word itself got tossed around, but the gold standards for me is Black Canary and Oracle. But then, I'm doing catch-up reading as well, so I can't vouch for what they've been like the past year or so (though I did like what I read of GA+BC, I'm not sure how feminist it comes off). Honestly, I'd even add Lisa Park-West to that mix, even though she's not the super in the Flash title.
Jun. 20th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
(though I did like what I read of GA+BC, I'm not sure how feminist it comes off

I'm under the impression that Winick's GA/BC mostly treated her well (or at least, BC wasn't the reason people disliked his run), and that Kreisberg can't write female superheroes to save his life.
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oh, I see what you did there - scottyquick - Jun. 20th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 20th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
I can't give you dates, but I do think that Rogue has gone from being sassy and fun-loving to being totally not. She used to be someone who would plant a smooch on a plane window for the sheer joy and power of it, now she seems to barely even smile. Just angst. And soul-search.
Jun. 20th, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC)
most people seem to think it was about the time Jim Lee took over and her relationship to Gambit happened.
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Jun. 20th, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)
I think the big difference is anger isn't in vogue right now. I read some of the comics with an early Powergirl issues and in their attempts to portray her as a feminist she comes off as outright rude. Sure Wildcat deserved to be told to shut up in some of them, but she pulls no punches telling him what she thinks over the slightest thing. And she's got some rather nasty thoughts about Superman and his chosen profession that seem to be attempting to show her as independent, but make her seem ungrateful.
Jun. 21st, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
I think it's happened to an extent in real society as well. Being a "feminist" was sort of a cause, because the prevailing attitude was sexist. Now, to an extent, attitudes have shifted and it's OK for women to expect to be treated as equals without commentary. ("Male chauvinist pig!" "That's MS. Danvers to you." etc.) A woman who expects equal treatment isn't a revolutionary, she's totally ordinary. Now it's the ones who accept ill-treatment who raise eyebrows.

At the same time the depiction of men has shifted. It's OK for a male character to not be drawn in heroic proportion, or to be a bit of a wimp -- even if they're the hero of the book. That's been true of teen characters since Spider-Man hit the scene, but it's taken a while for it to apply to adult males as well.

That's by and large a good thing -- it means that women don't have to fight as hard as we did to be on an equal footing. Unfortunately the dark side is that there's always a danger of slipback.

Character A can be bitchy and insecure because she can kick people in the head and makes good money. A guy can tell himself he's not sexist when he mistreats his girlfriend because his boss is a woman. A female "victim" character can turn out to be the selfish psychopathic killer because she's "empowered."* That kind of thing seems to get a lot less commentary.

* This is a favourite. In real life, about 89% of murders are committed by men -- usually young guys killing other young guys -- and 11% by women. In some modern cop shows the proportion is more or less reversed. (CSI, etc.) Even when the woman didn't do it, she either helped, pressured a guy into doing it, or covered it up.
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Jul. 1st, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
I would say Storm was royally screwed. She went from leader to Black Panthers puddin' pie. Though, she never mentioned the word feminist, I would say her character was feministic.
Jul. 4th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
Nobody's mentioned Siryn yet? Really? Last I knew, before X-Factor (latest series) she was a strong, independent, and intelligent character who'd overcome her battle with alcoholism. She led X-Force when Sam was gone and Cable trusted her judgment. She was compassionate and perceptive enough to gain Deadpool's trust and respect. The only other character who's managed to do that is Cable himself.

Theresa never would have been the type of character to fall head-over-heels because of a one night stand. As a practicing Catholic, it's surprising she even went for it, especially considering Jamie broke her heart before. Right now she's an emotional train wreck, who's lashing out at everyone. If you compare the second series of X-Factor (also written by PAD) to this one, there are some pretty uncomfortable comparisons. Lorna and Rahne both did pretty much nothing but obsess over Alex, just like M and Siryn with Jamie.
Jul. 6th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
Let's compare men and women
Professor X: Heads the X academy
Jean Grey: Goes Crazy

Magic User
Dr.Strange: Presides over reality, fixes disturbances
Scarlett Witch Wanda: Goes Crazy

Super Strong Ferals
Wolverine: Alive and Well
Sabertooth: Alive and Well
Lady Deathstrike: Dead (movie at least)

...in fact, good or ill, the female characters in Marvel verse really don't have much power compared to the male ones, except for Jean and Wanda who go crazy with this.

Consider this, the villain Doom has his own country, and runs it relatively competently, consistently. Radical feminist villain Superia on the other hand, her hare-brained scheme in CAPTAIN AMERICA #391 was to render all women outside her country infertile, giving the women in her country bargaining power with the rest of the world. This is a stupid, stupid plan, due the rape and every woman's awareness of it, and The Handmaid's Tale. She finally met her end being shot by the Red Skull.

The Black Panther has Wakana...and Storm had...?

Cable has Providence, Prof X has the X Academy, Namor has Alantis, Magneto had Genosha, Tony Stark has the universe relevant Stark Industries, Nick Fury has SHIELD...

...where are the women with their power groups or little islands of their own?

The closest is probably the Fantastic Four, when Susan Storm is like, half-field-leader with Reed Richards. Then maybe Avengers when lead by Janet, but that's a looong time ago.

Power please!
( 58 comments — Leave a comment )