As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’m thinking of all the female superheroes we’ve had in our time that little girls and adults like that they look up to. As I’m doing research I find that the very first female superhero was Fantomah, an ageless, ancient Egyptian woman in the modern day who could transform into a skull-faced creature with superpowers to fight evil; she was created by writer-artist Fletcher Hanks and debuted in Fiction House’s Jungle Comics #2 (Feb. 1940), credited to the pseudonymous “Barclay Flagg”. Then the first widely recognizable superhero was Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is an Amazon Princess, the Amazons were created by Aphrodite according to the stories and were made to be stronger and wiser than men.
Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.
— William Moulton Marston, The American Scholar
The first female superhero from the newly named Marvel Comics was the Invisible Girl, a.k.a. Susan Storm, charter member of the Fantastic Four. Although female characters would develop and become cornerstones of the Marvel Universe, their early treatment would resemble a struggle to be recognized as equals.
Supergirl of DC Comics went through such a struggle as she fights against the title of “Superman’s kid cousin” to earn her own title as Power Girl. Younger/teen-age female super-heroines, which heretofore had been portrayed as inept or limited in power, were re-examined by the portrayal of Kitty Pryde, who at age 13 became the youngest member of the X-Men. In the 90s, a popular feminist comic book girl was Tank Girl (by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin), who sported punk-influenced clothing and a shaved head. After becoming a figurehead in Deadline
magazine, her popularity was such that a movie was eventually made. She represented the new modern woman as one who no longer had to live under traditional images of beauty or manners. Within the DC Comics world, we’ve looked up to Supergirl, Batgirl, Catwoman, Amethyst, Black Canary, Enchantress, Harley Quinn, Hawkgirl, Mera, Poison Ivy, Raven, and Vixen. And then look at the Marvel Universe with She-Hulk, Singularity, Emma Frost, Crystal, Invisible Woman, Dr. Spectrum, Angela, Spectrum (completely different from Dr. Spectrum), Storm, Marvel Girl, Jane Foster/Thor (Yes, Jane was the first woman to pick up that over-sized mallet, noting that there “must always be a Thor”), Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel, Rogue, and America Chavez. And I’m sure there are many others. I wanted to write this article because we women need to stick together, and like most people, we look up to superheroes as our role models. This day is about women empowerment, and we ourselves can be kick ass superheroes also if we just believe in ourselves.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and sorry it’s up a bit late, but I wanted to write something good in honor of International Women’s Day. So if you would like to see more posts like this, let me know in the comments, and I’ll chat with you all next time.
*side note – I did cite from several sites, so I’m not taking complete credit for every thing. Just wanted to share a neat way to implement International Women’s Day.