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She Has No Head! – 10 Ladies Making A Run For The Title

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10 Ladies SHNH

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Back in November of 2010 I did a massive list of my 20 favorite female characters in comics. And today I’m doing a list of 10 ladies that – thanks to some seriously awesome creator work – are poised to break into that list. And all of them are currently starring in books going on now, so get out there and get reading!

Alana Image

Alana by Fiona Staples

ALANA

I’m hard pressed to think of a character I’m more invested in (especially in so few issues) than Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Alana from Saga. She has quickly risen to the top of my favorites list and of all the ladies on this list, she’s probably one of two that I’d move up if I had to make a new “Top 20” today. She’s just so nuanced and complicated. She’s warrior and lover, mother and wife, badass but also almost childlike in her innocence of some things – her recent freakout that she had “broken her daughter” when Hazel’s umbilical cord nub fell off, was charmingly human and naïve – proving you can know all about the universe and still not know about the simplest of things. I just love her. In truth, I seriously considered putting a whole slew of ladies from Saga on this list including The Stalk (a contract killer!), Hazel (a baby!), Izabel (a teenage ghost!) and even the newly introduced Gwendolyn (the dreaded ex!) – that’s how much I love this book and these characters.

You can read more about Alana (and all these ladies) in Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga (the trade is currently on sale on Amazon for an insane $5.55 for Prime Members).

Nimona Image

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

NIMONA

I wrote about my love for Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona webcomic on She Has No Head! not long ago, but when I was making this list, I confess that Nimona popped into my head, almost unbidden, and once she had, she refused to get out – which seems very Nimona. Morally suspect, enthusiastically villainous, but charmingly adorable anyway, Nimona is easily one of my favorite new heroines on the scene and if Stevenson keeps it up, Nimona is going to claw her way – perhaps quite literally given her shapeshifting abilities – onto my list of favorite fictional females in comics.

You can read more about Nimona in Noelle Stevenson’s ongoing Nimona web comic.

Hawkeye Image

Hawkeye by David Aja

HAWKEYE aka KATE BISHOP

It takes a truly fantastic character to be as good (if not better) than Clint in his own book, yet in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s hands, Kate Bishop steals nearly every scene she’s in. Thanks to fantastic chemistry between the two Hawkeyes, innovative art and storytelling at the hands of Fraction and Aja, Kate Bishop, a character that has never even been on my radar, is a strong contender for the list someday very soon. Add to that her awesome debut in the first issue of Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie and it seems only a matter of time before she’s solidly on my list.

You can read more about Hawkeye/Kate Bishop in Young Avengers, and as a frequent guest star in Hawkeye (the first six-issue trade releases next week).

Belit Image

Belit by Becky Cloonan

BÊLIT

I’ve never read any Conan books, my experience with Conan is solely those awesome 80’s Conan movies (Grace Jones for the win!)  But when I heard Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan were tackling the new Conan series from Dark Horse it was obvious I would be checking it out. Imagine my surprise to find I loved it! And loved Conan’s adversary and then lover/queen Bêlit the most of all. Bêlit is incredibly complicated and interesting, like all the best characters are. She’s presented almost like a dream or a nightmare, so powerful and beckoning, but over time she becomes fascinatingly human and flawed. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and one that is unflinchingly loyal once she chooses someone to be loyal too. As Wood brought her out of her element (the Sea, and her ship The Tigress) and into Conan’s cold Cimmeron world, he was able to show us a Bêlit pushed to new depths, but one that still prevailed, like in a scene where she fights (and kills) a pack of wolves on her own all while suffering from snow-blindness. Bêlit never gives up, and I love that in a character.

You can read about Bêlit in Brian Wood’s Conan The Barbarian. Available from Dark Horse Digital or the hardback trade of the first issues is already out.

She Hulk Image

She-Hulk by Mike Allred

SHE-HULK

I mostly missed out on all that She-Hulk stuff that everyone loved (and have yet to go back and read it – maybe now that I’m reading more digital I’ll give it a look). Regardless, She-Hulk has always intrigued me, and reading Kathryn Immonen’s Heralds mini-series a couple years back only strengthened that interest.  She wasn’t in it a lot – there were a lot of characters and a lot going on – but what I saw, I really liked. Cut to FF #1 and I’m delighted to see She-Hulk playing a major role and being drawn by a badass like Mike Allred. So I’m in. I’ve enjoyed everything about She-Hulk in FF so far and if she keeps this up, she’s quickly going to muscle her way into the top 20.

You can read more She-Hulk in the ongoing FF by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred.

Kelly’s countdown continues on Page 2

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57 Comments

What about Batwoman or any of her supporting cast?

Batwoman is on the original list, which is linked to in the first sentence.

[...] a little late today, but a new SHE HAS NO HEAD! about 10 ladies that are making a run for my “Top 20 Fictional Females In Comics” after great work with [...]

I never liked Jubilee til that series either. I’ll follow Immonen and Noto anywhere, but when I heard about that series I’ll admit I was hesitant. I’m now starting to become a fan and curious to where the new series might take her.

Eh, with the way (most) Big Two comics are these days, I’ll take Scarlett, Baroness, Arcee, Mothra and Janine Melnitz any day. And Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Ghost, now THAT has animated series potential.

You have two asians or asian americans, one black african, a Semitic Hyborian, a winged alien, a caucasian with some Kree DNA. That seems to me to be quite diverse.

Immonen’s Journey Into Mystery and DeConnick’s Captain Marvel are spectacularly awesome. It was those two titles that got me drawn back into a keeping pull shelf after a loooooong spell of disinterest.

Re: She-Hulk, I *highly* recommend Dan Slott’s run on her main title (technically two runs, he wrote 1-12 before the DISASSEMBLED storyline reset the series with #1 again, with Slott staying on as writer). Hella funny and masterful at poking fun at Shulkie’s expense.

Also, QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST is probably my favorite of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan stories. I was skeptical of a comic adaptation of it and I’ve passed it over the last couple times I visited the rack, but you’ve sold me on it. Thanks!

I’m kind of sad that Death or even Delirum of the Endless never made it onto either list. I know they don’t pop up that much (last I saw Death was in Action Comics having a chat with Luthor) but they both are so cool
Kind of bummed that Stephanie (as Batgirl) didn’t make it either. I know…I’m a Stephanatic and I’ll support her forever. At least two Batgirls (yay for picking the Oracle version of Barbara) made the list. Oracle was one of the most dynamic directions ever taken with a A-list (maybe B-list) character.
And what?? No Empowered or Ninjette from Dark Horse?! Tsk tsk tsk. ;)

@dan
What about John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk series?

Storm is better then them all.

Read the Outback years of the X-Men – if that doesn’t put Storm in your op 20, I don’t know what will lol

@Deense: Me too!

@Acer: I actually had some GI Joe comics in my comixology cart (on your recommend) who knows if they’re still there after the meltdown though. :(

@kabe: I don’t really feel like “alien races” or “being green” etc., counts as real diversity. It’s nice, sure, but it’s not the same as seeing a lot of faces that “appear” white.

But yes, the list got better when I had Jubilee and Storm sharing a spot – prior to that it was looking pretty lean on diversity.

@Dan: Glad to hear it! And i hope that Conan delivers for you – that is a lot to live to with an adaptation though!

@Nicole: I just haven’t read the Sandman stuff. It’s a big (odd) hole in my reading. One I hope to rectify someday when I get some time.

@Anon 9:12: I read all those, and liked them. But that was…what, more than 20 years ago? I haven’t (until recently) seen Storm used really well in a long long time.

Have you read SHINKU by Ron Marz and Lee Moder?
It’s one of my favorite new series, I keep suggesting it to people but no one seems to be reading it.
But then all the delays it’s been suffering aren’t helping it be around.

And I understand why you wouldn’t list her, but no Miho from Sin City? Shes not ‘current’ but would probably make my list just for Family Values, rollerblading around cutting mobsters’ heads off!

I loved Alana from the first issue but what REALLY sold her to me was when she was captured and thought her baby was being threatened. To go from tough bad-ass to completed distraught/panicked when she realized that she couldn’t do anything to stop it was an AMAZING character moment. It made her even more powerful by letting her be weak, if you get what I am saying.

Love the list, but… definitely check out Terry Moore! I’ll bet at least one of these great characters can crack the list: Katchoo and Francine from Strangers in Paradise; Ivy, Julie, and Annie from Echo; Rachel, Jet, Zoe, and Lilith from Rachel Rising (not to mention Aunt Johnny).

No love for Scarlet ??? Only me then? oh well…

@Kelly
Oh, yikes! Let’s hope their servers make a decent recovery, once you read one of those Joe issues, you may be hooked. If you want to read a pretty good fem-centric issue, 1989′s “G.I. Joe: Special Missions” #24 sees the four lady Joes–Scarlett, Jinx, Cover Girl, and Lady Jaye–undercover as the dance team at a New York cross-town rivals baseball game, and when Cobra’s hypnotist Crystal Ball hypnotizes the male Joes stationed at the stadium, those four are all that’s standing between Cobra and their kidnapping target, the President. Here’s a decent summary:
http://www.yojoe.com/comics/sm/sm24.shtml

No Toni Chu? LAME!

I am recommending Dana Cypress from Revival for the next list of great female characters.

also Dex from Greg Rucka’s Stumptown comics.

That is all.

IAM FeAR: Well, I read Shinku. It’s awesome!

Anonymous: Kelly loves Moore, so maybe she can explain why she left him off the list!

Layman: I don’t think Kelly reads Chew, much to her eternal shame!!!!

Grace Jones for the win INDEED! It seems so rare to come across mentions of the fabulous Ms. Jones. I love when she pops up in conversations about strong and interesting women.

I know the former was on the original list, but thoughts on Rogue and Scarlet Witch in Uncanny Avengers?

Obviously you have not read X-Treme X-Men because if you had read X-Treme X-Men, Dazzler would have ABSOLUTELY made this list. Shame on you for not reading X-Treme X-Men… Also, X-Treme X-Men!

I second what Daniel says! The character rehab Dazzler has received in X-Treme X-Men is absolutely incredible…we’re talking Grant Morrison’s reinvention of Emma Frost levels of incredible.

The first trade just came out, please-oh-please-oh-please pick it up!!

Your list lacks Songbird!!!

No Toni Chu? LAME!

SPOILERS

You killed her, you bastard!

Also, big fan. Chew is a great read.

Talia al Ghul? Agatha Heterodyne? Zoe or Casey from Morning Glories? Maria Hill?

I don’t know what to tell you, guys, I HATED X-Treme X-Men:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=4993

Dazzler is also a tough character for me in general, but I’m always willing to give a new creator and new spin a try – X-Treme didn’t work for me AT ALL. Sorry!

@Kevin: Dex was mentioned on my list of 20, the only reason she doesn’t make this list now is because her future seems uncertain…like I have no idea when the next Stumptown series will happen? But I LOVE her, all caps LOVE.

@Anon7:41: I love Terry Moore (check out our interview with him on 3 Chicks). Rachel almost made this list, as did Jet, and I love Rachel Rising.

@Blair: I loved the first issue of Scarlet but it was all downhill from there unfortunately. :(

@John Layman: I’m sorry, I haven’t read enough Chew. :( I tried a couple issues (maybe they were the wrong ones?) but it just didn’t gel for me…was thinking about trying it in trade though or digitally…maybe the second time will be the charm.

@IAM FeAR: To be honest, I don’t read much by Marz these days, because when I do, if I don’t like it, he starts talking shit about me on twitter and I think that’s a really shitty way for a creator to behave. I have heard some good things about Shinku though.

@Lando: S’okay. I’m not loving Rogue in that book so far, and Scarlet Witch has never been a fave. I’m still reading, but I haven’t seen anything to blow my mind yet. Rogue has had a rough year actually, ever since Carey left Legacy, but I’m hoping Wood can give her something awesome to do in X-Men – fingers crossed.

@Quite:

No thanks, haven’t read enough, no thanks, and no thanks! :) But thanks for playing!

If I had to make a quick list I’d have to put X-23 pretty high up there since she along with Carol Danvers are the reason along with Wolfsbane the reason I started reading Marvel Comics. Others include mistress of Magic Zatanna and her fellow Justice League Dark teammate Madame Xanadu. Others include my fave “perky goth” Death from Sandman and Power Girl

I world recommend Roxie ”Manteau” Hodder from Dial H and Maxine “Little Wing” Baker from Animal Man, both great female characters from DC. They also introduce some age diversity.

Since you mentioned Saga, and I agree Alana is such a great character, I thought i’d mention Izabel because she’s my favorite character(well one of them) in the book because she reminds me of Molly Hayes from Runaways but grownup. Also a lot of the girls in Morning Glories are pretty awesome.

Awesome list! If it were mine I’d also have added Josephine of Fatale and sisters Dana and Em of Revival. I also love Alana and Batwoman to pieces.

Great list Kelly. I’ve also really enjoyed the surge of Black Widow recently, and I would defintely read a solo book featuring her written by Greg Rucka. Anyone could draw it, and I would be there.

Another vote for Songbird. She’s rarely drawn in a titillating fashion, and she’s overcome considerable barriers (dependency on a criminal boyfriend, membership multiple criminal groups) to become her own person, someone trusted almost completely by most heroes despite her criminal past being public knowledge. Not only a team player but frequently a team leader.

Liz Sherman, Kate Corrigan and Carla Giarocco from BPRD!

BPRD’s great for diversity, too. The only two major white male characters in the cast are Abe Sapien and Johann Krauss, neither of whom have their original bodies.

Just wanted to say X-Treme X-Men was even more awful with issue 2, and it made Dazzler look like a complete idiot. “Idiot?” Yes, because she repeated EVERYTHING that was said to her. I wanted to like that book, but ugh.

And damn joshschr for his spoilers!!!

Oh, and Glory is so freakin’ awesome.

Pixie. That’s all.

I’ll just do my top 10 female comic characters. I don’t know that I could do a top 20 (don’t read enough comics!!)

1.) Wonder Woman- currently loving the book. But who knows if I’ll love the next run
2.) Robin- Carrie Kelley, always loved this character. She was fun.
3.) Spider Woman- Jessica Drew.
4.) Red She-Hulk, liking the current story, lets see if she has lasting power
5.) Valkyrie- always liked her.
6.) Jakita Wagner- Very cool character.
7.) Miranda Zero- Global Frequency. Talk about a strong female lead. This book actually had a pilot made. Michelle Forbes played Miranda Zero. It would have made some good TV. Pity
8.) Death- she should be higher on the list but I’m too lazy to retype.
9.) Jade- She’s probably snuffed from continuity but I like her.
10.) Mantis- cool character, what can I say, I have a thing for green chicks.

Glory is a great character, but she’s utterly vile, brutal and sadistic. I wouldn’t necessarily put her in rarified pro-female air.

and x-23 may be the worst “female” character ever created. Just utterly wrong in every single facet.

Charles J. Baserap

March 13, 2013 at 4:26 am

Black Widow is Russian (also, it wasn’t a mini by Liu; it was canceled due to sales); I know she appears white, but can we stop pretending all white people are the same? I mean, seriously, I know Puerto Ricans who are insulted if you call them Dominican or Mexican, etc. The white Jewish guy down the block is not the same as the white Italian guy, etc. Diversity is more than just skin color, and it’s rather insulting to have an entire block of people painted with the same broad brush (eh, you all look alike), and that’s ANY people. This issue has been raised in the MLB with black Hispanics not wishing to be counted in the numbers of black players, because they feel they are not the same as African Americans and count themselves as Hispanic. You look at a guy like Robinson Cano and think “black” just on appearance, but he’s not. You look at a guy like David Ortiz, who also looks “black” but he’s not either.

I’m not mad at all; I just get annoyed with the you all look alike mentality, especially when there is more to diversity than skin color–after all, we tout the diversity of a gay character like Northstar, but never say he’s just another white speedster when he stands next to Flash or Quicksilver; we talk about Simon Baz being a Muslim rather than focus on his skin color; Bunker’s sexuality was also heralded as a big step (note, I’m not denying any of these things are, nor am I complaining about any of these characters whatsoever as I like each of them) but little was said of him being another Hispanic individual and he stands different from someone like Jaime Reyes. For someone to complain about diversity, and then stop at the skin deep part, well, that’s a bit counterproductive, although I am 110% it’s unintentional and not in any way shape or form meant to offend anyone AT ALL.

Like this list more!

Re: @kabe: I don’t really feel like “alien races” or “being green” etc., counts as real diversity. It’s nice, sure, but it’s not the same as seeing a lot of faces that “appear” white.

Fair enough, but then there are still 4 diverse characters out of 11 in that list. And I believe that when talking comics, at least some aliens should count as diverse characters, especially humanoids with specific facial features, skin tone, or specific cultural tropes.

It’s Olivier Coipel, not Oliver.

There hopefully will be more choices when Aspens !0 for !0 runs it’s full course.A combination of relaunches of Aspens current catalog and new characters.This is a much better list than you would get from Comicvines DC/Marvel centric lists.Quite frankly even the calls for Batwoman and Wonder Woman and the inclusion of Marvel’s Storm and Black Widow( I like BW) set my teeth on edge because of the DC/Marvel fans failing in most instances to support anything besides A+X and Bat titles.It hardly matters how good anything else is if they can’t see beyond 5 or 6 books.Curious to see what you might think of Image Comics Revival and Debris female leads and Avatars War Goddess.

@Baserap: Yes, there was a mini before the ill fated 8 issue run that was an attempt to be an ongoing that no Marvel fan supported.In fact there were a series of minis prior to the Marjorie Liu run. I think that was the point of the original comment..As far as the rest of your points about diversity I couldn’t make heads or tails of any of it.

Great List. Glad you are finally seeing the She-Hulk love.
My list would include Zatanna and the Wasp. Donna Troy is a guilty pleasure. And Hawkwoman (but I like the original Shayera Hol).

I really love this site. You write about very interesting things. Thanks for all your tips and information.

WE need a Top 10 Comic Book Ladies from Movie/TV adaptations. Though there wouldn’t be as many to list, the differences between their comic book versions and movie/tv adaptations could make for interesting comparissons.

While I’m not familiar with Nimona I would categorise the others racially as…
3 non-caucasians (Alanna, Jubilee and Storm)
3 significantly exotic caucasians (a faux-Asian of extra dimensional parentage, an unusually pallid woman from a prehistoric land and an Asgardian goddess)
3 American caucasians
and 1 Russian Caucasian

great characters there

It is soooooo awesome you included Alana from Saga. She is just badass. Sure, she may be a little dislikable at the beginning maybe but that’s what make her a kick ass character.

[...] 10 More Great Female Characters (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) [...]

Yay Shulkie! Thanks Kelly

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