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.

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 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.

Sprinkles Around the Web 2/4-2/17/11

Sprinkles from around the web

Links that I enjoyed around the web. No one else’s opinion but my own.


Me, Tammy, and Jasmine at the APCC New Year Celebration. A great day with some wonderful and talented friends.
Me, Tammy, and Jasmine at the APCC New Year Celebration. A great day with some wonderful and talented friends.

Uploaded a ton of photos. Check them out.


NBC casts Wonder Woman! ‘Friday Night Lights’ star lands coveted role I’ve never seen Adrianne Palicki act, however, I am so happy that this is going forward. For real this time.

What Superhero Comics Look Like A great little article breaking down how Osborn #3 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios is scripted and put together art-wise, also how it applies to the very best of current comic books.

10 Reasons the Star Trek 2 Screenplay Still Isn’t Done

3) Everybody wanted Uhura to kick some ass this time around. But they couldn’t figure out how to have her kick ass in a teeny minidress, without needing a lot of strategically placed lens flare. The writers spent two months trying to figure out a plot reason why Uhura might have to put on some pants, or maybe some leggings, for part of the movie. What if they go to a planet of leg-biting monsters, and she has to put some protective leg coverings on? Or maybe Spock shows her a special Vulcan ritual, in which practitioners must wear pants as a sign of devotion to pure logic?

Andy Warhol, Nico, Robin And The Bats! Esquire Magazine Photoshoot 1967 This is an amazing. I’m such a Factory fangirl. If I could go back into time, I would go there and hang out.

Legend of a Cowgirl An amazing Firefly fanvid about Zoe. Just perfect. I love it. Continue reading “Sprinkles Around the Web 2/4-2/17/11”

Favorite warrior female character: Maxine Kiss (Day Seventeen)

Maxine Kiss from Iron Hunt (Hunter Kiss books) by Marjorie M. Liu

Maxine Kiss
Maxine Kiss and her living tattoos.

I’ve only read the first book in Liu’s Hunter Kiss novels, but I loved it so much. I couldn’t put it down, and I loved Maxine very much. I love how she calls herself out on her own bullshit and always seeks the truth and finds a way.

Maxine comes from a line of women warriors with special tattoos. During the day, these tattoos live on their skin, but at night, they peel off and become demons which protect her. Each demon has its own personality and special abilities. As a hunter, Maxine and her female ancestors before her rid the world of demons, mostly zombies, but there are other creatures out there.

Of course, there’s a curse of sorts involved, that on the daughter’s 21st birthday, she gets the tattoos, which leaves her mother vulnerable and soon dead by the Blood Queen of zombies. While at the same time, Maxine has some hereditary knowledge and was taught and loved by her mother.

As an adult, Maxine is very capable. And she’s capable of changing how she sees the world and saves the world as she falls in love with Grant, a former priest who can reform lost people and some demons, and meets people she forms real bonds with.

Maxine is a fascinating warrior character, and I’m going to read the rest of the Hunter Kiss books really soon. Fall in love with Maxine’s story, buy The Iron Hunt (Hunter Kiss, Book 1) by Marjorie M. Liu.

Favorite female character growth arc: Lyra ‘Silvertongue’ Belacqua (Day Fifteen)

Lyra ‘Silvertongue’ Belacqua from His Dark Materials

Lyra Belazque with the ice bears
Lyra Belazque with the ice bears as portrayed in the film the Golden Compass.

Lyra starts off her journey as a nosy young girl spying on her father, hiding in a wardrobe with her daemon Pantalaimon. She has an enthusiastic spirit and an intense interest in learning and exploring. Lyra wants to know more about the world, and she does not think that children should be limited because of their age. Additionally, Lyra has a great passion as an advocate for others.

Lyra starts off on a simple mission: to find her friend Roger and to figure out why someone wants to kill her father Lord Asriel. But Lyra soon finds out that there’s more to the kidnapped children and Lord Asriel than she first realizes. As Lyra grows, she also gains powerful allies. She becomes perhaps the first human to become friend and allies of a panserbjorne Iorek Byrnison. She also befriends witches, sea gypsies, and sky pilots.

I was worried in the second book, The Subtle Knife, in that it seemed to focus too much on a new character Will Parry. And I was even more disappointed when Will was clearly going to be her love interest. While first loves and sexual experiences are certainly a part of growing teenagers’ lives, I was worried the text focused too much on that part of Lyra’s growth.

However, Lyra truly does become a hero by the end of the books. She also becomes an adult.

Follow Lyra’s path, buy His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. Though I do suggest ordering the British versions as Lyra’s sexual awakening was censored in the US.

Favorite older female character: Wonder Woman (Day Fourteen)

Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince from DC Comics

Golden Age Wonder Woman breaks gold to save the day.
Golden Age Wonder Woman breaks gold to save the day.

I didn’t know if the meme creator meant older as in age, or older as when created, so I’m going with Wonder Woman who was created in the 1940s. Wonder Woman is meant to be part of DC Comics’ Trinity, along with Superman and Batman. She was created for women, specifically young girls reading comic books.

In the 1940s, comic books were a common and extremely popular medium to tell stories. During wartime, they were used to boost morale. Wonder Woman fought Hitler and the Nazis just like her male counterparts.

But at the same time, Wonder Woman was a goddess. She had the wisdom of Athena, the beauty of Aphrodite, the speed of Mercury, and the strength of Hercules. Wonder Woman was her creator William Moulton Marston’s ideal of the perfect woman, whom he thought would teach the world to love instead of go to war. Wonder Woman may have been idealized, but she also surrounded herself with women and taught them to better themselves. To be more like her by learning to reach their potential. While this may sound arrogant, Wonder Woman is anything but.

Luckily for us, Wonder Woman’s story has continued throughout the years. Sometimes, her story hasn’t been as wonderful as she deserved, but other creators have captured her beautiful world to share new stories with us. I’m hoping she’ll get a new TV show, and it will let the non-comic reading world see how amazing she is.

Personally, Wonder Woman is one of my own idols and role models. I seek to have the same grace and wisdom that she possesses. Also, I want to help and support other women in the ways that she does.

I’ve been reading 1940’s Wonder Woman comics and talking about them on my comic book blog.

Favorite female character in a book: Katharine Clifton (Day Thirteen)

Katharine Clifton from The English Patient

Katharine Clifton
Katharine Clifton as portrayed by Kristen Scott Thomas in the film.

I first read Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient when I was 12-years-old, but I’ve read it many times since then. I’m not big on re-reading stuff (re-watching is another subject). Of course, I never do re-read it from cover-to-cover, which with Ondaatje’s non-linear writing style, it’s pretty suited to my reading habits. And I’ll argue that to full appreciate the book, you had to read the proceeding book, In the Skin of a Lion. In 11th grade, I did a book report on The English Patient and had to do an oral presentation where I dressed up as Kathrine in order to give it. (I wasn’t quite as entertaining as the boy who did a Star Wars tie-in novel.)

There’s a lot of love that I have for Katharine, and how she goes after what she wants, even at the very real risk of her own life. Katharine may be dead at the beginning of the book. However, she is not a dead saint or the pawn used as the main motivation for Lord László de Almásy, her lover and the English patient. Katharine is her own woman. And while we see her mostly through Almásy’s viewpoint, part of what he loves about her is her independence. When Almásy asks her what she hates most in the world, Katharine tells him a lie, and he returns saying ownership. He’s attracted to her for both her independence streak and her mind; and he falls in love with her when she reads their desert exploration group poetry.

Katharine’s love affair with Almásy is volatile. They are both worried that her husband Geoffrey will find out about their affair. Katharine and Geoffrey are newlyweds when they join Almásy and his crew in Cairo to explore the desert. And they both have good reason to fear Geoffrey as when he finds out about their affair, Geoffrey tries to kill all three of them.

Of course, had Katharine not died in the Cave of Swimmers, I doubt her relationship with Almásy would’ve lasted. She’s very dominate and claiming, and while Almásy is attracted to this (perhaps because other women around him did not posses these traits), they fight over it. She breaks a plate over his head; stabs his shoulder with a fork; and gives him a bruise on his forearm, among other injuries. Almásy clearly believes Katharine’s fiery spirit makes her like the desert and wants her by his side as he explores it. Except that Katharine loves the greenery of England and expresses a desire to return.

Perhaps Katharine explains everything about their love affair in a postcard she writes:

Half my days I cannot bear not to touch you.
The rest of the time I feel it doesn’t matter
if I ever see you again. It isn’t the morality,
it is how much you can bear.

Get to know Katharine and read my favorite book, buy The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.

A female character you hated but grew to love: Jean Grey (Day Three)

Jean Grey from The X-Men

Jean Grey
Jean Grey: that was one ugly outfit.

So it’s not so much that I hated Jean Grey, she just was probably my least favorite X-Men. I tried to like her, I really did, but she just didn’t appeal to me. She was always too much of a goody two-shoes and a suck-up to Professor X. (Something I disliked in myself as a child.) And Jean was too afraid of her powers and why did she date that Cyclops guy? (If there was one character I disliked more, it was Cyclops.)

Perhaps, I should’ve started by saying that my first exposure to Jean was in the X-Men Animated Series from the ’90s. Where in addition to all the things I complained about above, she also had the worst costume out of the bunch. And when everyone else is wearing primary yellow and blue spandex and you take the shitty costume award, that’s saying something.

Jean tried to be interesting. She did the whole Phoenix and Dark Phoenix storyline. And that was set IN SPACE (which always makes everything better, in my opinion). But at least in the animated version, I felt like everyone was having adventures and Jean just had things happen to her. Jean transformed and then used some of her superpowers, and maybe this whole spiritual change just didn’t transfer well to my child brain or children’s TV. I was far more preoccupied with Lilandra running her armada.

But thankfully, I’m not a child anymore, and I like Jean now. I don’t think she’ll ever be my favorite, but I have an appreciation for her I did not. Which makes it really a shame that Marvel keeps using her as their poster child for popular characters staying dead.

And maybe someday, I’ll rewatch the X-Men Animated Series and see what child-me and adult-me can argue about.

Buy X-Men: Volume One and see if my childhood nostalgia holds up.