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Top Five Female Superheroes Using Old Male Codenames

Okay, that is a terrible title, but I couldn’t think of a shorter way of saying what I’m trying to get across. Basically, a common thing is for new female superheroes to show up using the names of older male characters. Sort of how when Hank Pym stopped going by Yellowjacket, Rita DeMara started to use the name (although first as a villain). Here are the top five!



Kate Bishop is a cool character and all, but darnit, Clint Barton is Hawkeye!!


Dawn Granger really filled the boots of Don Hall quite nicely. The Hawk and Dove series by the Kesels was really underrated – it was a fun comic based on two strong characters – well, Dawn was strong at least – strong enough that she could hold up Hank’s cro-magnon end of the duo.

Dr. Light

Kimiyo Hoshi could be a great character, but let’s face it, she’s been available for anyone to use now for about a decade, and her only real notable appearance was to show how tough the old Dr. Light is. Hopefully Dwayne McDuffie will rectify that!

5. Starfire

I like Starfire, but I’d love to see her get a bit of character development in a year that does not begin with 198.

4. Scorpion

Created by Fred Van Lente and Leonard Kirk, Carmilla Black is a great addition to the Marvel Universe. As a superhero operative working for SHIELD, Carmilla has the problem of dealing with the fact that her biological mother is the head scientist for the evil organization, A.I.M., and Carmilla was genetically bred to be the perfect assassin (she is immune to all poisons and can deliver poison herself). So how do you deal with the fact that your mom bred you to be a killer while you want to be a hero? It’s a great challenge, and seeing Carmilla deal with that strange relationship while continuing to make a name for herself in the superhero community (while also combining that with her duties as a government operative) has been a lot of fun to watch.

3. Manhunter

Marc Andreyko’s Kate Spencer is riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a costume made up out of confiscated superhero and supervillain gear. What I love most about Kate is that she is such a normal person, while pursuing a decidedly ABnormal lifestyle – Andreyko had really produced a multi-faceted character who works well in many different environments.

2. Moonstone

Moonstone is a lot like Kate – well, except sorta evil.

Karla Sofen has powers due to the “moonstone,” a powerful gem. How did she get that gem? She used her psychological training to convince the dude who had the gem that he did not want it! How awesome is that?

She’s been a bad guy, she’s been a bad guy pretending to be a good guy, she’d been a good guy, she’s been a bad guy who might be a good guy. She’s all over the place, but one thing stays consistent – she remains an intriguing and delightful character to follow!

1. Captain Marvel

Come on, people, who else did you expect me to have here?

That’s the top five! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!


is it just me or are all those covers strikingly similar?

Brian, we know you love Monica but….

i really wish artist would use a bit more creativity in designing these female characters using old male names. so many of them look like captain marvel. it is like there was a conspiracy or something….

Hehe…touche, folks!

It’s corrected now!

Man, Captain Marvel fell from star to also-ran in a heartbeat, didn’t she? I’d hoped she’d become a recurring character in Black Panther, but I guess Marvel felt no need to exceed its company quota for black female characters of one.

Huh. Someone must really like Monica Rambeau.

Have a good day.
John Cage

…And of course the page is corrected between the time I opened the page and the time I got to reading it and posting a smartass reply.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Crazy high placement for the new Scorpion, but she really is a great character.

Hey – can you post what the former-male Starfire looked like? I never knew that Starfire was a knock-off, just that she had knoc…, well, you know.

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 6, 2008 at 8:12 am

Definitely nothing wrong with the female Hawkeye. No offense to Barton, but he’s not even sexy. ;-)

There’s a male Starfire?

And it’s sadly all-too-obvious why Starfire (or most of the ’80s Titans) hasn’t received any character development in 20 years. To attempt to make any changes or say anything new about the character would be to commit the unforgivable sin of thinking you could outdo the God of All Titans, Marv Wolfman. (I do not think Wolfman thinks this of himself, but the slavish devotion that so-called professionals have to his run just cripples any chances of a modern Teen Titans book being anything but a dull retread of it.)

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

December 6, 2008 at 8:42 am

The russian hero known as Red Star was originally called Starfire when he met the Teen Titans in the 60’s. He was cooler in that one issue of TT than Kory’s been in her whole 2435ing career!

I thought K’ory was doing alright in Countdown to Adventure…
Sure she’s not playing a big part in Rann/Thanagar Holy War at the moment, but babysitting Buddy’s kids in CtA was fun!

I’m the only one who bought Countdown to Adventure… Aren’t I?

Bernard the Poet

December 6, 2008 at 9:27 am

Brian, it’s a bit of a cheat having Starfire on your list. The original Starfire had only appeared in one comic when Kory debuted and I suspect that it was a coincidence rather than a deliberate decision by Marv Wolfman.

I’m STILL completely bemused by your love for Roger Stern’s Captain Marvel. She’s so blah.

Have they explained why the female Dr.Light keeps calling herself Dr. Light? Does she really want to be named after a serial rapist?

What, no love for the Renee Montoya Question??

Technically, couldn’t you also count any of the female Green Lanterns as well?

Who’s had one of the most complex arcs in DC over the last decade? Good Question. Due to Rucka’s work on “Gotham Central” & “52”, Renee Montoya has gone from a generic Gotham cop to a rich, multi-faceted masked hero. She should top this list.

What about Speedy?
and Quasar?
Good point on the Question!
And I bet DnA’s Starhawk stays a woman as well…

Don’t forget Rucka’s “Five Books of Blood” and “Final Crisis: Reveleations” developing the Montoya Question even further…

and “Ms. Sinister”. I don’t know if she qualifies for a “best”, but she’s got the name!

Anyone think that Phyla-Vell is a glaring omission? Not only only is she a great character, but she also used two old male codenames, Captain Marvel and Quasar.

No love for Inza Nelson as Dr. Fate? Or Morrison’s Shining Knight? Boo.

ooo! Shining Knight! Justine! Forgot that one, she was/is great!

I was sure White Tiger would be on here.

“I’m the only one who bought Countdown to Adventure… Aren’t I?”

I bought it too. But…well…I still haven’t read past the halfway point…

I’d have tossed in a bid for the all-new Star-Spangled Kid, until she changed it to Stargirl and freed the name up for a new male version…

Brian, it’s a bit of a cheat having Starfire on your list. The original Starfire had only appeared in one comic when Kory debuted and I suspect that it was a coincidence rather than a deliberate decision by Marv Wolfman.

Given that Wolfman created both Starfires and was the writer on that one issue where the original Starfire appeared, I think it’s pretty safe to say it wasn’t a coincidence.

After the orginal Crisis DC went crazy for this concept. There was not only a new, female Dr Light, but also a female Dr Midnite (now dead), Wildcat (now dead) and, my own personal fave, a female Dr Fate- a change that I think could easily be made permanent. Sometimes it seems like giving female characters old male powers and code names was just a failure to come up with imaginative new heroines- although I do have to admit the female elseworlds Creeper character that had a mini a few years ago was not slavishly attached to her male counterpart and was, in the end perhaps, too original. (Dada-esque art theft anyone?) Personally I enjoyed Rene Montoya’s character much more before she became the Question as her personal growth has become increasingly bizarre since the transformation. Monica Rambeau was also, I thought, an excellent character with a sucky codename and costume although it’s very hard to come up with a worse codename than Ms Marvel.

although it’s very hard to come up with a worse codename than Ms Marvel.

Yet somehow Kurt Busiek managed to accomplish that very thing with the name Warbird. Almost an impressive feat actually.

Actually, before Kory of the Titans, there was another female Starfire from DC; she was a sword and sorcery adventurer who had her own title for 8 bi-monthly issues with 3 different writers, around 1976 or 1977.

And during Jerry Ordway’s Shazam series, didn’t Mary Marvel call herself Capt. Marvel?

Bernard the Poet

December 7, 2008 at 3:47 am

“Given that Wolfman created both Starfires and was the writer on that one issue where the original Starfire appeared, I think it’s pretty safe to say it wasn’t a coincidence.”


My apologies Brian, I should have done my homework.

Come on! Captain Marvel? The girl shouldn’t have made it into the list at all!

I had no idea there was a female Captain Marvel – then again, Billy Batson is the only Captain Marvel I’ll formally recognise.

Manhunter should have won!

I think in regards to Starfire, Wolfman just liked the name and though it was available as noone had used Red Star. Kovar was created by Giordano as plotter alongside Wein and Wolfman, with Bill Draught on art.

Wolfman was only a fill-in writer on Kovar’s first appearrance, so although he’s credited as one of his creators, the character was more likely to be Giordano’s idea as he was the books plotter for some time.

Hey, someone else brought up Quasar!

And I also second the Montoya Question. Who will hopefully get some more play when the Watchmen movie comes out, and people try to track downt he Charleston heroes.

Charlton heroes, and I don’t think that’ll happen. The people who go and see the Watchmen movie that don’t know they’re analogues of the Charlton heroes will be the ones who don’t read comics, and I really don’t think they will afterwards (with maybe the exception of other Moore books).

It’s only common knowledge to us geeks, and I really don’t think the non-comics geek movie-goers are really going to care

When I was looking through the list all I could think of was Captain Marvel. I was so scared she wouldn’t be on here. But there she was at #1!!!!

I can’t believe all these comments on here criticising her. What is wrong with these people? Haven’t they read any old Stern Avengers?

While it is true that in many ways, the Shazam-guy is the real Captain Marvel, Monica is and always will be the Marvel-Captain Marvel, and all the others who used that name were completely worthless. And I was thrilled to see that she’s Captain Marvel again in the new Marvel Divas!!

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