Ladies in Leadership: The Top 5 Comic Book Heroines of 2013

As we near the end of 2013, we have quite a few butt-kicking females tearing their way through the shaded cells. This list was hard agonizingly hard to nail down because there are so many ladies I want to give a nod to. But this is the best of the best we’re talking about here, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to shout it from the rooftops.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where all the badass villainesses are? Don’t you worry, they’ll get their own article soon.

5. Carol Danvers a.k.a Captain Marvel

Carol. You Kree-whoopin’ crazy lady. I adore you. Why am I professing so much love for a comic book character? Because she took the title of Mar-Vel with power, style, and class when she got exposed to an exploding Psyche-Magnitron. Not even a lesion, resulting from the third lobe growing on her medial longitudinal fissure, can stop her from defending the world. Oh, and this lesion actually limits her powers. She isn’t like most superheroes, who can fly off willy-nilly and use their powers without any need for conservation. Using her power of flight could cause a cranial hemorrhage. Yet, despite this extremely disconcerting consequence, Captain Marvel manages her powers so she can preserve herself, and she completely tears up the battlefield whiles she’s at it. Not to mention, she can be wonderfully sardonic (her vs. her crotchety neighbor is a favorite ongoing war of mine). Yes, in the most recent issue, the worst might have happened, and she may or may not be floating unconscious in space, but we know she’s gonna pull through like a BAMF.

4. Agatha Heterodyne

I’ve been reading Girl Genius religiously since 2010 and, ever since, I’ve been dying to talk about how freaking awesome Agatha Heterodyne is — especially in her most recent adventures in the siege of Mechanicsburg and her tussle with the Sturmvoraus family. Agatha is what the title of the comic promises: a girl genius. And a fun, capable, honorable, and delightfully steampunk girl genius at that. Need a death ray? Done. Need to reanimate a broken sentient castle? Donzo. Need a perfectly pressed espresso? Got done ages ago. Agatha can do anything with her creativity, including leading a town into a victorious battle only weeks after having met anyone there. Not to mention, fighting against a much bigger overarching villainess who may be secretly controlling a decent portion of Europa. Even the men who are looking to love her know that Agatha is not a woman to be trifled with. In fact, the reason they become interested in her is because of the twinkle in her eye that can only herald one thing…Mad Science!

3. Amala

Amala from Amala’s Blade is pretty much as badass as it gets. She’s a master swordsman raised by a pack of blade-wielding renegade children with killer reflexes, a fearless attitude, and an army of ghosts that, for the most part, only she can see. Why does she possess this sixth sense? Either the hundreds of people she has slain have come back to heckle her, or she is the is the prophesied spiritual warrior who has come to reunite the warring states of the Purifiers and the Modifiers (that’s steampunks vs. cyborgs, for those of you out there wondering…awesome, amiright?). That’s the thing that I really love about Amala. She’s this rip-roaring killer but she has this really peaceful, noble side to her that shows up in how she conducts herself as an assassin (yes, she commandeered a ship once, but she always gets the job done), how she treats the people close to her heart (cutest moment ever with the blacksmith’s son), and how she knows when to choose life over death (she tames a freakin’ sandworm-monster-cyborg-dog instead of killing it). She even throws all of her blood-letting instincts to the wind and attempts to stop a war in its tracks so that compassion can stabilize in its place (the success rate of that will depend on future comics). Also, I’d like to give her 100,000 extra kudos for being a comic book lady with functioning armor. Like I said. Bad. Ass. B’dass.

2. Kate Bishop a.k.a Hawkeye

Kate Bishop in the Hawkeye reboot (a Matt Fraction comic, so we already know that’s a point with me) is perfect. The cells above, from Clint Barton’s point of view, show why: She’s a witty woman with a deadly aim. But, I’m a fan of Kate Bishop for more than that reason alone. I’m a fan because, despite Clint’s presence, she isn’t just a backup Hawkeye; she IS Hawkeye (if you’re not in the know, she took up Clint’s “mantle” when he was off being Ronin for a while). They are Hawkeyes together. And yes, Kate can take over the role if anything were to knock Clint out of the picture, but she never stops busting crime in its lopsided, snarling face anyway. She’s like if Azrael just said, “Screw it. I’m Batman,” and fought crime in harmonious conjunction with Bruce Wayne after his stint with homelessness (except Kate was never delusional, murderous, or attempting to strangle boy wonders).  Kate’s there helping Clint with his various conflicts as an off-duty Avenger in just about every issue, and doing so with such ease and effectiveness you can’t help but want to see this version of Kate in her own comic. Incredibly gifted, Kate is your girl if you’re in trouble and, even better, any one of us could be Kate. She’s completely plausible with her hip-quiver, archery training, and sassy New Yorker attitude.

(Note: The outfit in the cells shown above is NOT what Kate normally wears. She stole that from a circus lady. She normally dresses like you and I: jeans, jacket, and a t-shirt.)

1. Ororo Munroe a.k.a Storm

Our favorite elemental mutant, Storm, is finally getting all the respect that she deserves. And really, so are all the other women of X-Men. Marvel NOW! has put out a comic by Brian Wood and David Lopez that focuses on the core group of mutant ladies we’ve been loving since forever and puts the spotlight on them (it remains, aptly named, X-men). And damn, does Storm shine. She’s tough, stoic, and in complete control. Nothing can unravel this woman, and everyone knows it (even her costume’s obnoxious boob-window is almost tolerable in light of her strong, fluid capability). Hell, they won’t do anything without her swift and strategic say-so. She is the leader of the X-Men, and woe be to the one who wishes to confront her. Even strong-willed Rachel Grey requested a tall-ass order when she decided to question Storm’s leadership.

The attribute that I fiercely love about Storm, and the reason I made her number one

on this list, is that she makes tough decisions as a leader of women who have powers that are equally as impressive as her own. So, every decision she makes has to be extra firm and watertight, otherwise, the bond between these fierce mutant comrades might fall apart and they’ll never be effective as a team. Or, even worse, they might cause some major destruction instead of preventing it. Storm is constantly doing double-time in this way. And no matter how quick or harsh her decision, she always stands by it. She is solid in ways that make bedrock jealous.

Oh, and do you know what happened after Rachel Grey was like, “I don’t trust you”? Storm finished saving the crashing Blackbird and Rogue in like five seconds without breaking a sweat.


Honorary Mention: Wonder Woman…because, duh

I know, I know, I said “Top 5.” But I couldn’t live with myself (figuratively) if this article got posted without mention of Diana. Because she really does wreak some baddie butt-kicking havoc in her New 52 spot. I mean, Diana gets trained by Aries himself, how sick is that? Plus, the impending war of Olympus is a pretty rad story (though it shares the same “Guarding the baby that everyone wants to kill” bit that X-Men is doing right now…though it came first), and the artwork is absolutely GORGEOUS. But the real reason I want to mention Diana is because she is a solid constant, like Storm, throughout comic book lore, and she’s getting more respect. My hope is that we can get a move on in the film industry, and as long as the males of the Justice League are systematically getting their limelight, Diana should be next on the list. She’s legendary, she’s boss, and she can arm-wrestle Superman.

Wonder Woman forever!


7 thoughts on “Ladies in Leadership: The Top 5 Comic Book Heroines of 2013

  1. Pingback: Power in the Shaded Cells: The Top 5 Black Superheroes in Comics |

  2. Fantastic article! Thanks for mentioning Amala’s blade, just read issues 0-2 in an hour on the strength of your countdown and love it much 🙂

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