From Top to Bottom: Comic Book Women

by Matt

Welcome to the 5th edition of the weekly "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

Last week I took a look at the Top and Bottom of Comic Book Movie Adaptations. This week's edition will be a bit trickier. With Sex and the City hitting theaters this week and Cindy's fantastic upcoming column about women in comics (look for it Friday!), I thought I would be brave and take a look at my Top 3 modern women/girls in comics. I chose them based on how they are portrayed and if they seem real to me.

I avoided choosing older characters like Wonder Woman and the Invisible Girl; I wanted to select women from more recent comics. My top 3 women all represent women who are NOT perfect. They are NOT portrayed as "Super Women," but they all do strive to be their best which is a quality I really admire. To me these women are excellent role models. Now, of course this is all MY opinion and I may totally be off my mark, but here I present my Top 3 Women in Comics.

3)Tulip O'Hare
I thought Ennis really hit it out of the park with this character! She felt very real to me, like I was reading a true story instead of a comic book. I was drawn to Tulip for many reasons, and the biggest is that she stood for what she believed in. Sure, she made mistakes, but she did her best to overcome them. She was loyal and forgiving and she fought hard for what she wanted.

I absolutely love Stargirl. I used to coach 9th grade girls' basketball and one of the team captains, Lacey, was just like her. Stargirl is incredibly well-written - her speech and attitude all reflect a real teen and, more importantly, she looks like a normal teenaged girl. With determination and hard work, Lacey grew into a confident and fantastic player and team member, one who I depended on for countless things. Stargirl is the same way. Going from her first series on through the JSA, you can see how this character continues to grow and mature.

1)Sundra Peale
Every obstacle that has been put in her place, Sundra has overcome. She has made mistakes but she perseveres. Sundra's taken on a lot of huge responsibilities and has come out on top of all of them. Her relationship with Nexus is a large responsibility in itself: she helps shoulder his load and also has to deal with his other children, which is not easy for her. She also organized the Olympics with thousands of other worlds and races. She is smart, strong, loyal and respectful. She also stands high and fights for what she believes in. This is why Sundra Peale is my Top Woman in Comics.

These next selections are women who, while they do have some great qualities, I don't believe truly represent women. I am not saying that they are terrible characters or that the creators that created them need to be shot. Comics are created mostly by men for a predominantly male audience. Comics show males and females at what society believes their ideal is: incredibly good-looking muscular men and incredibly good-looking women with tiny waists and big boobies. These women certainly cater to this "ideal" and that is why I have them listed as my Bottom 3 Women in Comics.

3)Danger Girl
Ultimate Danger Girl is one of my favorite trades. The plot is a load of fun. And all of the girls in Danger Girl are very smart, strong, heroic and, ultimately, save the day. But this comic was certainly an exercise in T&A. Would a super spy really resort to wearing such a short waitress outfit? Did it really progress the plot? I don't think so. But I admit that the series was a blast to read.

2)Red Monika
I'll give you TWO big reasons why she is ranked here. Now she is smart and strong and yadda, yadda, yadda, but does the character really need boobs that big? Do they really add to her character? I like everything else about her except for the boobage.

I don't think I have to explain that Supergirl is also smart, strong and heroic, do I? But she has been portrayed more as a sex object. I admit that I felt a little wrong, a little dirty and a little bit embarrassed when I was looking through a large gallery looking for a picture that would fit this column. Isn't she supposed to be around 16-17 years old? Now I don't think that there is a problem with finding a 16-17 year old girl cute. But I think there is a problem when you find her alluring. Stargirl is cute, Supergirl is alluring. Are there 16-17 year old girls who act like Supergirl? Sure, but the question in my mind is would I want my 16-17 year old girl to act more like Stargirl or more like Supergirl? Even Hal Jordan had to keep reminding himself that she was too young. I just don't feel that she is handled correctly.

There you have it. My Top and Bottom Women of Comics. Oh man... I think this has been my geekiest column yet!


coolgirlsar said...

What no Snow White?!?

I always find it strange like you do with Supergirl, she's young and she shouldn't be considered (imo) as much as a sex symbol as she is. Plus it must give out such wrong ideas to young girls reading comics these days.

Brandon said...

I'll second Snow White. She's one of the best leads. In fact, I think Vertigo does an excellent job of portraying strong female characters.

Doug Smith said...

You can count me as a Stargirl fan, too. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. was a fun book, and if I'm not mistaken, Geoff Johns based the Stargirl character on his late sister.

What's sad about your top three picks is that none of them are lead characters. Tulip and Sundra are supporting "girlfriends" to the titular lead characters of their respective books. Courtney was a title character, but even then she was sharing the title with her stepfather. Not that it's bad that there are strong supporting female characters, but there should be more strong female LEAD characters too.

Matt said...

I left Snow White off the list because I don't read Fables. I tried the first issue and it just didn't interest me.

Chris Ware said...

I left Snow White off the list because I don't read Fables. I tried the first issue and it just didn't interest me.
Matt, the first arc of Fables wasn't great, but you really should check out the rest of the series because it really is spectacular.

Now, who is Tulip O'Hare? I guess Sundra Peale is from Steve Rude's Nexus, but only because you mentioned his name.

Matt said...

Tulip is from Preacher.