Welcome back, ladies.
- Character Summary: At time of writing, actual identity is unknown (and even after it’s revealed I won’t mention it here because, come on now… spoilers); A mysterious woman who lifted Mjolnir and took over the mantel of Thor, who lost his ability to hold Mjolir due to an equally mysterious series of sneaky whispers (fo’ real); “Lady” Thor is presented as much more than that, or rather more than just a “Lady” version of regular Thor; In fact, it is laid out multiple times in the comic that she is not a woman with the Thor title, but rather is ACTUALLY Thor, with all the powers, respect and responsibility that comes along with being so; The writers have a done a decent enough job not making this Thor seem any less capable than the original, putting her in similar scenarios as the previous Thor would often find himself in; All in all, the series is still very new, but I seriously hope that it’s popularity is sustained even after the identity is revealed.
- Common Themes: Adapting to new powers; Secret Identities; Trust; Obligations and Responsibilities
- Good For: Thor Fans; Fantasy Fans; People interested in VERY powerful female superheroes
- Go To Series: Only the one right now, but THORS comes out in May as part of the Secret Wars Crossover
- Stand Out Stories: Still making them!
- Character Summary: Jean Grey, Omega Level Mutant Telepath/Telekenetic; Admittedly, Jean breaches my rule of avoiding characters who are mainly attached to a team; Jean doesn’t have too many solo arcs, and honestly, that’s why I’m including her; As a character, Jean has a lot of depth and intrigue; She is a vessel and avatar for an interstellar entity known as the Phoenix Force, which is a being of pure energy that feeds on creation and destruction; She has severe relationship issues thanks to her time with X-men and is generally constantly on edge due to the massive amounts of destructive power that flows inside her; HOWEVER, throughout much of the runs of the comics, Jean is mainly used as a plot device; She is strong when she needs to be and weak when the writers need her to be; She also stands as one of the primary examples of a comic book cliche- the inability to actually die; Jean has died and come back a number of times, which is usually attributed to her ties to the Phoenix; Ultimately, Jean Grey stories are worth a read because A) Jean is actually a really cool/powerful character and B) they often represent some of the mistakes that can and have been made in comics [This isn’t to say all Jean comics are bad, just that, much like Ms Marvel, Jean suffered in the beginning from the era of writing]. AS A SIDE NOTE: I prefer Jean Grey from the Ultimate universe; She is more tough, more badass, and a bit nerfed power-wise.
- Common Themes: Power and Control; Relationships for Heroes; Separation from Society
- Good For: X-Men fans; Hero team fans; People who like the tension of unstable heroes
- Go To Series: X-Men (Vol 2); New X-Men (Vol 1); Ultimate X-Men; All New X-Men
- Stand Out Stories: Endsong; New X-Men #150; Phoenix Saga; Dark Phoenix Saga
- Character Summary: Greer Grant Nelson; A lab assistant gifted with feline-like powers by her mentor and then, through a series of events, turned into a half-cat, half-human warrior called Tigra by an ancient mystical race called the Cat People (no joke); She eventually joined up with the Avengers, quit from not feeling worthy enough, and moved out west; There she joined up with Hawkeye’s West Coast Avengers and became a valuable if unruly member of that team; Over her stint in comics, Tigra has vastly struggled with her personalities being split between the human and the cat, with the latter being a more free-spirit, hedonistic, aggressive being; She hasn’t played a major role in recent comics, but pops up from time to time for whatever reason; She is definitely a compelling character that I feel is kept out of the light in modern times thanks mostly to her character design… It was the 70’s people… a hot cat chick in a black bikini was just what people found intriguing… However, I feel this is one of many female characters that Marvel could bring back into the limelight with a simple costume make-over; Like… maybe some actual damn clothes? Though, for her character’s particular mental struggle between human and cat, a certain element of freedom or “sexiness” in the clothing makes sense, a la black cat, cat woman, enchantress and other characters that rely or act on their sexuality, but all three of those other characters at least have pants, right? Give the cat lady some damn pants, Marvel! Jeez…
- Common Themes: The struggle between wild and tame; Controlling one’s dark nature; Freedom vs Hedonism
- Good For: Black Cat fans; People who like heroes that are the black sheep of their team; Fans of… ahem… “sultry” heroes…
- Go To Series: West Coast Avengers; Avengers Academy; Avengers:The Initiative; The Cat
- Stand Out Stories: Giant Size Creatures #1; West Coast Avengers (Vol 2) #9; Avengers: Infinity
- Character Summary: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan; The last of her race, which was obliterated by a weird religious cult, Gamora was “rescued” by the big purple bastard Thanos, who took her in, augmented her, and trained her to be the most dangerous female assassin in the galaxy (probably just “most dangerous assassin in the galaxy” honestly, but the title of “Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy” just sells more comics, I suppose); Though she worked for a pretty bad dude, Gamora never really was a bad person, more seen in a sort of grey area, being okay with working as an assassin, but not fond of doing things that are blatantly evil or chaotic; She was originally seen trying to eliminate a dark version of Adam Warlock; Later she latched on to Adam as a sort of protector, before finding out Thanos’s intentions of destroying the universe and attacking him; Thanos killed Gamora, but her soul was preserved by Warlock in the Soul Gem and she was later restored; She spent time with Warlock and his Infinity Watch before her feelings for Warlock caused her enough tension to leave the team; There she bounced around for a while, helping Nova, working solo, and eventually joining up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, where she is today; Gamora has been a powerfully important sideline character for years, never really having her own title, but commanding enough respect from just about every cosmic character that she stands out significantly; Plus with her presence in so many major storylines, she is easily one of the most influential cosmic characters, even beyond all of her current teammates.
- Common Themes: Nature vs Nurture; The price of power; Escaping one’s past; The dangers of the Galaxy
- Good For: Space Opera fans; People who liked the Guardians movie; Fans of movies/TV/comics involving sword wielding badass chicks
- Go To Series: Warlock and the Infinty Watch, Nova (Vol 4); Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 3)
- Stand Out Stories: Strange Tales #180, Avengers (Vol 1) Annual #7, War of Kings
- Character Summary: Janet Van Dyne; Daughter of a rich and famous scientist, Jan sought out Hank Pym when her father was murdered, determined to bring his killer to justice; At that point, Hank revealed that he was actually the hero Ant-Man, and imbued Jan with the ability to shrink to the size of a bug and grow a set of wings from her back; He also built her wrist weapons that shoot blasts of energy called “stings;” Together, the two defeated Jan’s father’s murderer and went on to be founding members of the Avengers; Jan would eventually marry Hank, only to divorce him years later after Hank’s millionth mental breakdown results in him striking her when she argues with him; Janet’s journey is very much one of coming into maturity, as she is originally portrayed as a flighty, thrill-seeking debutante and slowly becomes a seasoned, confident leader of the Avengers; Her matriarchal position on the Superhero team would last for many years, interrupted briefly when she was “killed” by a Skrull infiltrator tricking her into taking a growth serum that turn her into a rapidly expanding bomb; She managed to survive the process thanks mainly to Thor, and returned later, joining up with the Uncanny Avengers; Jan is a character of fearless determination, never shying from a battle and never putting her friends in excessive danger; She is quick to action, especially when her powers are called into question, which many villains do and quickly regret.
- Common Themes: Love and Duty; Friendship and the sacrifices made to protect those we love; Dangers of preconceived notions; The struggles of female leaders
- Good For: People who like strong female leaders who still manage to be down-to-earth; fans of a little romance in their comics; Fans of Ant-Man; Haters of Hank Pym
- Go To Series: Tales to Astonish (vol 1); Avengers (vol 1); Uncanny Avengers (vol 1); Ultimates
- Stand Out Stories: AXIS; Avengers (vol 1) #213; Avengers (vol 4) #32; Secret Invasion