Favorite female writer: Gail Simone (Day Twenty-Eight)

Gail Simone

Comic book writer Gail Simone
Gail Simone is DC Comics' leading lady author and one of my favorite comic book writers.

I’m pleased to say that I have a lot of favorite female writers. But I am the type of person to seek out female authors on purpose. Gail Simone is one of my favorite comic book writers. She’s written for such book as Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Gen13, and Secret Six, and she’s greatly added to the canons of some of my favorite female characters.

Simone started off as a fan. A comic book fan who noticed that women characters were mostly ignored, tortured, and killed to serve the stories of the male heroes. Simone created a database of sorts cataloging all the atrocious torture and deaths women characters were subjected to in far greater numbers than their male counterparts. She coined the term, “Women in Refrigerators” for these unfortunate acts.

Simone caught the eye of DC Comics, and they decided to hire her as a writer. She’s been on their payroll ever since. Simone’s run on Birds of Prey is one of the most celebrated “female-friendly” comic books out there. The reason being not just that Simone can craft a good story, but because she treats her characters — whether female or male — the same. The Birds of Prey is a team largely composed of women, mostly protecting Gotham City (though they do venture out). At the heart of the team is Oracle (Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), and Huntress (Helena Bertinelli). These women and others not only have adventures and defeat bad guys, but they are genuine friends and family. In a genre where women rarely have their own agency in stories, it’s even more rare that women work together and become friends with each other. Simone says she didn’t set out of create a “female-friendly” comic book, but by DC Comics hiring a woman writer with the sensibility to tell women’s stories, Birds of Prey was able to reach an expanded audience with women fans.

Simone also had a great run on Wonder Woman, where she not only reunited Diana with her mother, but even let Wonder Woman have a love interest again. On the other end of the spectrum, Simone’s Secret Six is about the nasty things villains do to heroes and do to each other, proving that women writers can be just as sick and twisted as their male peers.

I highly recommend checking out Simone’s writing: Birds of Prey Vol. 1: Of Like Minds and Wonder Woman: The Circle.

Also, Simone’s going to be at GeekGirlCon, if you want to meet her in person and attend a convention with lots of other geeky women.

A female character you have extensive personal canon for: Anya Jenkins (Day Twenty-Seven)

Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins from Buffy: the Vampire Slayer

Anya Jenkins
Anya Jenkins was super awesome, and her story was largely unexplored.

I love a funny lady character, and I adored Anya on my TV screen. I was saddened, however, that a character who was supposed to be over 1,000 years old didn’t have her past explored in a way I would’ve liked. (I also didn’t appreciate her being canon fodder for Joss Whedon’s kill list so Xander could cry a single tear from his one eye.) Anya was under-appreciated, which made me create a lot of personal canon and really enjoy the canon that others wrote for her in their fanfiction.

5 things from my personal canon for Anya

1. One of Anya’s favorite albums is Carol King’s Tapestry.

2. Anya loves jasmine tea because it reminds her of the first time she visited China and wore silk against her skin. Of course, the blood really never came out of that silk after she cut a cheating man’s head off.

3. Anya and Giles had one passionate weekend together, and they told no one. They told each other that they’d reevaluate it after the apocalypse.

4. Anya’s favorite painter is Edgar Degas, and she detests most art made after 1920.

5. Besides immortality and easy transportation, changing her face is the thing Anya misses most about being a vengeance demon. Which is why she dyes her hair so often.

Watch Anya’s canon on Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and then add your own.

Favorite classical female character: Deborah (Day Twenty-Six)

Deborah from the Bible

Deborah Under the Palm Tress by Adriene Cruz
Deborah Under the Palm Tress by Adriene Cruz

When I was in religious school, my 7th grade theology teacher skipped over the story of Deborah, and really, all the stories about women in the Bible as they just got too incongruous with the view of the patriarchy we were learning. As a budding feminist and a quick reader, I decided to read these stories while he was going on a tangent I could ignore.

Deborah is featured in the Old Testament in the Book of Judges. She is the only female judge. The judges are warrior-leaders of God and deliver His word to the people.

Deborah is a prophetess who leads the Israelites against the Assyrians. She foretells the coming battle and clearly sees how the Israelites can win. Deborah is portrayed as strong and independent, perhaps hearkening back to the matriarchal roots of Judaism as her story could come from 12th century BCE.

Deborah’s story also features another woman Jael. Jael is actually the one who kills the Assyrian leader when he seeks refuge in her tent.

This story stands out for me because my teacher skipped it, and I read it anyway and was pleased to find out that Deborah was awesome. So awesome she also has a dimensionless number named after her. Read Deborah’s story in Judges.

Favorite mother/daughter relationship: Emily, Lorelai, and Rory Gilmore (Day Twenty-Five)

Emily Gilmore, Lorelai Gilmore, and Rory Gilmore from The Gilmore Girls

Rory, Lorelai, and Emily
For those nights, you just need a girls' night: Rory, Lorelai, and Emily Gilmore

While Gilmore Girls reruns may be regulated to the ABC Family channel, I highly suggest watching the show. It’s rare for a show to portray a good relationship between a mother and daughter, but even more rare for there to be an entire family: Emily (grandma), Lorelai (mother), and Rory (daughter). Of course, this being a drama and all, their relationships change and flux. They don’t always see eye-to-eye, but you always know that they love and care for each other.

When the Gilmore Girls began, Lorelai was a single mother raising her daughter Rory in small town New England. Lorelai came from a rich family, but had rejected their wealth, and at 16-years-old, decided to raise her daughter on her own. However, in order to pay for Rory’s private high school, Lorelai must suck up her pride and ask her parents to help her financially. As part of their bargain, Lorelai and Rory must come to Emily and Richard’s home once a week for dinner.

As the show goes on, it’s clear that all three women need each other’s love and approval. (And Ricard’s as well, but that’s another meme…) While Lorelai and Rory’s relationship is certainly the heart and soul of the show — and the voice to all those witty pop culture references — all three women have a wonderful relationship. There are times when Emily and Rory united to convince Lorelai of something, and other times when Emily and Lorelai lean on each other to confront Rory. None of the three women are perfect or always right, but it’s clear that no matter their struggles with each other, they do love each other and they get their strength and their stubbornness from each other.

I love the moments when Lorelai throws Rory impromptu girls’ nights to cheer her up from school or a breakup. Or when Rory gives into her grandma Emily’s insistence on taking part in the Daughters of the Revolution. Or even when Lorelai indulges Emily, who wants to help her buy a house.

One of the main reasons to watch the Gilmore Girls is the wonderful relationships between the three generations of Gilmore women; buy Gilmore Girls: The Complete Series Collection.

Favorite female romantic relationship: Kate Kane and Renee Montoya (Day Twenty-Four)

Kate Kane and Renee Montoya from DC Comics

Kate Kane and Renee Montoya
Kate Kane and Renee Montoya are just adorable and kick-ass.

I love Kate Kane and Renee Montoya’s relationship as depicted in 52 and Detective Comics. I’m a little bit of a sucker for opposites attract. Of course, Kate and Renee aren’t that different than they first appear to each other and perhaps that’s the real reason why they break up.

While Renee and Kate come from different backgrounds — Renee is pure working class, while Kate is a rich socialite — both have a law and order background and then later become superheroes. Kate and Renee hook up right after Kate’s kick out of the military due to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and Renee’s a newly minted cop. As Renee heads toward a detective promotion, Kate finds herself asking how she can make the world better, only to run into the Batman himself. Of course, on the personal side, Kate’s out to her family and accepted, and Renee’s still very much closeted.

When Renee becomes the Question and Kate is Batwoman, they rekindle their relationship briefly in 52. But when the Religion of Crime decides that they need to sacrifice Kate, Renee tries to shut the organization down and save Kate. Kate would much rather save herself. She ends up pulling a knife out of her own chest and stabbing her captor, only to pass out into Renee’s arms.

Both Renee and Kate are very stubborn women. Women who want to save the world and themselves. They don’t like relying on others.

Perhaps some day, Kate and Renee will hook up again. But Renee will have to stop being so stubbornly independent, and Kate will have accept help more often. Because they are so adorable together.

See how their journeys start coming together, buy 52 Vol. 1 and The Question: The Five Books of Blood by Greg Rucka.

Favorite female platonic relationship: Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean (Day Twenty-Three)

Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean from Marvel Comics’ Runaways

Nico and Karolina
Nico and Karolina have a wonderful friendship.

Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean from Runaways have a wonderful platonic friendship, despite starting off as being almost complete opposites. Nico is a goth-influence teen and good with magic. Karolina is a blonde Californian teen, who’s actually an alien and can fly with rainbows. Their parents were life-long friends, but the girls never really got along with each other.

That was until Nico, Karolina, and the rest of the Runaways find out that their parents are actually super-villains. And oh yeah, they all have some kind of superpowers or near superpowers.

When the kids runaway from their families, Nico becomes one of their default leaders, and soon Karolina becomes her confidant. There’s a little awkwardness as Karolina has a crush on Nico, and Nico isn’t interested and straight. But the women become best friends.

Together, they keep the group stable, and they are the ones to make sure that the younger Runaways are taken care of and that the team has a home.

One of my favorite scenes between Nico and Karolina is after they throw a Runaways‘ prom. As Karolina watches everyone being happy, she starts missing her girlfriend Xavin. When she becomes visibly upset, Nico calls off the prom. Instead, Nico and Karolina hang out together and comfort each other as best friends. The scene is an incredibly sweet moment of girl bonding.

Get to know Karolina and Nico, buy Runaways Vol. 1: Pride and Joy.

Favorite female character you love but everyone else hates: Ellen Tigh (Day Twenty-Two)

Ellen Tigh from Battlestar Galactica

Ellen Tigh
Elllen Tigh: Way more awesome than you thought.

Everyone I know hated Ellen Tigh. Okay, by the end of the new Battlestar Galactica, a few stray people decided that Ellen was actually pretty multi-faceted and an interesting character.

I, however, have been the Ellen Tigh fanclub since “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down.” You see, when I first sat down to watch this Battlestar Galactica show with my DVDs — I’d watched a few random episodes from Season 1 and really started watching regularly in Season 2 — I found the show good, but a little flat. Like something was missing, and the appearance of Mrs. Tigh brought it all around. It was the fun; the fun was missing.

Dramas need comedy and light moments in order to make the drama more heavy hitting, and Ellen Tigh certainly brought it. (Yes, you could argue that Gaius Baltar was supposed to be this, but I have a hard time laughing with guys like him.)

Things I love and adore about Ellen Tigh:

1. Ellen knew how to have fun and enjoy life even in apocalypse.

2. Ellen deeply loved her husband, Saul. Was she faithful? No. But he was also not free of his own faults. However, she loved him, and he was always first in her heart and she believed in him. The scene on New Caprica where she helped Saul with the bandages around his missing eye speaks volumes.

3. Ellen did not have children, but yet she turned out to be the mother of an entire race of beings. And she was just as good at it as you’d expect her to be. (Good scientist, bad mother.)

4. When Ellen betrayed the rebels, she did so to save Saul. (See #2.) And when she was caught, she confessed and knew the consequences. When Saul handed her the cup, she knew it was poisoned and she accepted her fate.

5. Ellen unabashedly loved sex. And how many older than 35 women characters do we ever see hanging from parts of the Galactica getting head from their husbands?

That my friends is why Ellen Tigh is one of my all-time favorite characters. Buy Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series and get to know my favorite character.

Favorite female character screwed over by canon: Donna Noble (Day Twenty-One)

Donna Noble from Doctor Who

Donna Noble
Donna Noble may have started off as a bride, but she is so much more.

Donna was always the temp until she met the Doctor. Donna is by far my favorite companion, and the one who can make me cry at the drop of a hat. (Yeah, those last episodes of Season 4 are hard for me in the way other people talk about Torchwood‘s Children of Earth.) Her wit and her heart are her two biggest weapons.

Donna is not a warrior, but she is a fighter. She’s feisty and tells you exactly what she thinks whether you want to hear it or not. Donna stands up for herself, especially when the world does not stand up for her. She makes the hard choices, even when she’s often not given a choice herself.

The Tenth Doctor was a lonely god, and Donna brought the entirety of humanity and love with her. She loved the Time Lord in the blue box, but she’d be the first one to tell you that it was a platonic love of best friends. While traveling with the Doctor, Donna grew into the person her mother never thought she would be and the person her grandfather always thought she could be. I love Donna’s relationship with her grandfather.

I’m absolutely appalled at the ending Donna was given, when the Doctor just erased her mind without asking. And how she gets married and wins the lottery as the consolation prize, when you know well and good, she should’ve been the one killing the Doctor instead of her grandfather. Donna would’ve been cursing out her best mate. But instead, she’s in a mystical coma for a while and can’t even remember traveling the universe. Donna’s seen such wonderful sights and had great adventures and she can’t even remember them. It kills me.

From the moment Donna appeared on the TARDIS in her wedding dress and yelling at the Doctor, I loved her. Celebrate how awesome Donna is, buy Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series.

Favorite female antagonist: Lilah Morgan (Day Twenty)

Lilah Morgan from Angel

Lilah Morgan
Lilah Morgan: evil and pretty awesome.

I love a character who can push the other characters’ buttons, and Lilah Morgan from Angel did just that. As a lawyer at the evil law-firm Wolfram & Hart, Lilah toys with our heroes, wears designer heels, and gets more invested than she probably cares for. Obviously, I love her for all of that.

Lilah is a professional through-and-through when we meet her. She knows what Wolfram & Hart is all about. Lilah’s chosen to join the law firm because she believes it’s the best for her. While Lilah is the ice queen, she does have her softer, more human moments.

But I do have to say that one of my favorite Lilah moments is when she cuts off her boss’ head with office furniture after she gets promoted to his position.

Lilah is incredibly effective as head of Special Operations. She keeps those at bay who try to steal her job, and Lilah also doesn’t let her job cross the line. In “Billy,” one her clients puts a magical misogynistic mojo on her male coworker who proceeds to beat her up. When Angel and Cordelia confront Billy to stop him (as he’s putting the whammy on many others), Lilah is the one who shoots him dead. (Even if it was under her coercion that Angel broke out Billy from a hell-dimension prison.)

While I’m often not a big fan of romance plots for my favorite female characters, I love when Lilah hooks up with Wesley. They have the perfect balance between good and evil and hatred and love. The storyline was very smart in that Lilah’s relationship with Wesley doesn’t become her entire life, just another part of it. Nor does she turn good because she’s having sex with a hero. Instead, their relationship comes to its natural end.

Well, perhaps a little supernatural happens… While Lilah and Wesley are broken up, there’s still tension, but Lilah is killed by the season’s Big Bad. I loudly cheered when she came back, undead and not a monster. The scarf around her neck from where Wesley cut off her head (afraid she’d been turned into a vampire) was a harrowing detail. Nothing made me sadder than when she wasn’t used in the last season.

Watch Lilah mock the heroes (because she does get the last laugh), buy Angel The Complete Series.

Favorite non-human female character: Jadzia Dax (Day Nineteen)

Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Jadzia Dax
Jadzia Dax is brilliant, fights hard, and loves harder.

Jadzia Dax is my favorite incarnation of Dax. Jadzia is a joined Trill, which means she has a living sentient worm in her belly that shares its memories and experiences and that of its previous hosts with the humanoid body.

This makes Jadzia both a young scientist and a wise woman at the same time. She is the newly minted Chief Science Officer of Deep Space Nine, over 300 years old, and has lived 7 lifetimes. Jadzia loves adventure, hanging out with her friends, and loves strongly and deeply (friends and lovers). She has perhaps the warmest personality of the entire main crew.

I wasn’t looking to fall in love. I was perfectly happy by myself. I had friends, a career, adventure. Then one day, this Klingon with a bad attitude walked into my life – and the next thing I know, I’m getting married! After 356 years and seven lifetimes… I still lead with my heart. — Jadzia Dax

While Jadzia marries and plans to have children, you never get the sense that she settles down. She still wants to go find a new star or repay oaths to old friends. Jadzia drags everyone on vacation to Risa, the pleasure planet, and stays up all night gambling and playing dom-jot at Quark’s. She tends to be the woman in the boys’ club of space and exploration, except that this is Star Trek, so she rarely runs into acceptance problems.

Jadzia is a character who leads with her heart and then her mind. Except of course, when she’s solving a work-related problem with science. Jadzia’s not afraid of breaking rules either. She almost loses her ability to pass on her Trill when she falls in love with Lenara Kahn, her former wife when they were both different people.

Jadzia adds a sense of spunk and fun to a show that sometimes was bogged down with themes of war, occupation, and religion. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t have a serious side or can’t make you cry. Jadzia’s unconventional personality made her a wonderful character to bounce off the other sometimes too serious characters, such as her best friend Benjamin Sisko and her husband Worf.

Get to know and love Jadzia Dax, buy Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Complete Series.