Dee’s already explained this in her post, so I’ll just on ahead and list out my top three.
I’m going to come straight and say that this is not a Best Superhero Role Models list – this is my favorite super women list, and Theresa Cassidy is at the very top of it, no matter the criteria. I started branching out into comics after a friend gave me X-Factor because I loved Theresa so much. I read X-Force, I read various X Titles, and from there it snowballed.
Like her name implies, Theresa’s powers are sonic based – from devastating sonic screams to using sound to ‘fly’ to using her voice to compell others as the sirens of myth, her powers are the perfect match for her personality. Sure, it’s like all of Marvel’s redheads are fiesty, and all the Irish characters are lushes, but it’s her history and how she overcame it that really drew me to her.
With a father (Sean Cassidy, aka Banshee) she didn’t know was alive until she was 17, the crazy uncle who raised her (Tom Cassidy, aka Black Tom), a drinking problem at age 17, Theresa could have easily turned to the dark side for good. (In fact, her first appearance – which I own! – was as a villain alongside Black Tom and Juggernaut in Spider-Woman) But it was the goodness in her, despite the way she grew up, that led her to changing her ways and following in her dad’s footsteps.
Over the years, Theresa faced any number of evil plots and fridgings, but it was her ability to move on past them and grow stronger that I love most. You have to be an incredible person to survive having your throat ripped out and losing your power, to being under the Shadow King’s control and beating up your own father, to emotionally and mentally survive being beaten and left for dead and being tied up and nearly killed by a crazy mutant all in the same day, to take a step forward day in and day out after losing a child. And to survive all that over the years without once turning back to alcohol – can we talk about iron will and strength of character?
That isn’t to say I don’t love her flaws, either. Sometimes she’s stubborn, irrational and quick to anger, sometimes she’s so far in denial she refuses to believe her father is dead for months, she’s extremely damaged when it comes to relationships, but even though most of the circumstances have been outrageous in that comic book drama way, her reactions, her flaws and strengths are all human.
What much can I say about Carol Danvers that her name alone doesn’t? She’s the very definition of a strong, intelligent superheroine, and she’s a great female role model on top of it. Over the last five years, Marvel’s been pushing her front and center, hoping to create their own version of Wonder Woman, but comparing the two is doing a disservice to them.
Carol started out a female version of Captain Marvel, spending her early days with superhero schizophrenia – she had no idea she was turning into Ms Marvel and saving New York when she wasn’t running a women’s magazine connected to the Daily Bugle and dealing with a very sexist J. Jonah Jameson for a boss. Even back in the 70s when she was first introduced, she was the one pushing forward a pro-women agenda. Her outfit was and still is skimpy, but I’ve never found it a problem the way I do with other women.
What Carol was probably most known for, at first, was being the woman Rogue got her well-known superpowers from, having spent months without them. Even after she got her powers back and years had gone by, Carol still harbored negative feeling toward Rogue, the one thing about her that I find a little hard to like (mainly because I love Rogue). It’s understandable, sure, but it’s still a flaw she acknowledges and even spent a whole arc of her second ongoing working through.
The thing I love most about Carol, though, is her drive to be the best woman and superhero she can be. Her most recent ongoing series started out that way, and even with three decades of comics, a stint with the Avengers and some time with cosmic powers, it’s so refreshing seeing a superhero who isn’t sure of herself, and not in a completely melodramatic way. All Carol wants to do is reach a point in her life where she stops doubting herself, and that’s something I latched on to right away, a simple but completely effective way of relating to her as a reader.
Plus, she’s got an extremely badass side that no villain – human, Skrull, Brood or otherwise would want to face.
I’m going to be completely honest and admit that at first, I was turned off by Power Girl mainly because of her costume, and the emphasis everyone seemed to put on her huge…tracts of land. It wasn’t until I kept hearing great things about Palmiotti/Gray/Conner run and Dee’s love for the character that I decided to put aside my preconceptions and try her out.
Holy crap, am I glad I did.
It only took the first issue of the most recent run for everything I thought I knew about Power Girl to be broken down. Here was this immensely likeable character, drawn with such life by Amanda Conner that I couldn’t help but love her. Sure, she has the regular superhero vs civilian life issues, but Palmiotti and Gray’s writing was such that everything seemed fresh – from trying to build her own company to being bribed into going to a comic book store as a kid’s date. Her friendship with Terra is adorable, and I have an extremely large soft spot for her interactions with Vartox.
I don’t think I would have loved Power Girl if I’d read anything other than the Palmiotti/Gray/Conner run, and I’m going to thank them eternally for breaking down my horizons and adding a new character to my list of favorites.