Inspired by Abhinav Jain’s recent blogpost, I run down a list of my favourite female characters in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comics.
Alright, I’ve been a bit slacking when it comes to updating the blog lately, particularly when it comes to updating the weekly comic haul. I think I’m just going to post the Comic Haul whenever I feel like posting it, not limiting it to a Friday, because I’ve been able to get comics on a Wednesday for the past few weeks and this normally ends up with me putting a picture on twitter, so – if you are still inclined to see what books I pick up without relying on a blogpost, you can follow me at (@baneofkings). Mention that you got here from this blog and I’ll follow you back as well, unless you’re a spambot. Oh, and forewarning, I did post a list of characters on the earlier blog, but I seem to have left some out below. Whilst this is by no means a definitive list, it’s certainly a pretty packed one, and you can look out for an equally packed list of favourite male characters later in the week (hopefully).
WHY? Because Maximum Ride was one of the first series that got me into reading. Sure, it may not be a perfect series. Indeed, I absolutely loath Books 4-8 and the characters become almost unlike-able by the end of the book, especially given its very poor and underwhelming conclusion. In fact, Nevermore goes down as my least favourite Book of 2012. So – why does Maximum Ride, the titular character of the series, earn a place on the list? Why is she called Maximum Ride? Well, quite simply – she chose it herself. I can’t recall if it’s mentioned in the books as it’s been a while since I’ve read them or in James Patterson’s unrelated duology When the Wind Blows/The Lake House featuring a character with the same name and a similar ‘flock’, but the name is chosen because she always pressures herself to the ‘Max’ of her abilities, and her surname was chosen Ride after the first female American astronaut in space. At least for the first three books she’s an independent character, full of sarcasm and quips that can beat the humour from Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in places, an excellent leader, and an excellent survivor with some great kickass abilities, that whilst seem to show up whenever the plot demands them and are never talked about again, it doesn’t stop her from being any less awesome. Oh, and did I mention? She has wings. The whole premise of Maximum Ride is that there are a group of mutant birdkids out there that are 98% human and 2% avian, which gives them the power of flight. However, having spent their lives in captivity, they must escape – and run from the scientists that created them. At least, that’s what the first three books are about anyway. Full of plot twists and turns, it’s a series I strongly advise checking out, just make sure that you limit yourself to Books 1-3. Because for those moments, Max remains one of the most awesome characters in SFF, even if she comes from the YA Genre.
WHY? Whilst she might not get such a big role in the X-Men films, something that I hope will change with the upcoming Days of the Future Past, Kitty is a very strong female character, with the power to phase through buildings. She’s also one of the first two X-Women to make it on my list, and is very, very awesome in Joss Whedon’s incredible Astonishing X-Men, of which I’ve only read the first two volumes. She gets a great role in All New X-Men as well, one of the main flagship X-Books from Marvel, and the scenes with her and the original Jean Grey are some of the highlights from the series. Oh, and like Rogue below – she is part of the X-Men series by Brian Wood, featuring an all female team of X-Men.
WHY? Rogue, like Kitty, is an member of the X-Men, and takes the same spot as Kitty when it comes to awesome female characters. With a power that prevents her from touching anyone for the rest of her life, her gift comes across as more of a curse, yet she still remains an awesome character, taking up one of the prominent roles in the X-Men film trilogy, which is why I was so annoyed with the ending when they decided to take away her powers for X3. In the comics, she’s a key character in the Uncanny Avengers – and as you can see, she’s not only an X-Man, but now – she’s also an Avenger. If I had to pick between Rogue and Kitty as my favourite X-Men female characters, then I’d be very hard pressed. Both are excellent.
WHY? Star Wars is one of my favourite film series. Heck, The Empire Strikes back is one of my favourite films of all time. It was really never any doubt that Princess Leia was going to be on this list, after all – she’s a Princess, whose sole purpose isn’t just to sit back in a castle and get rescued. Whilst admittedly, she does get rescued from the Death Star, she does nonetheless play a massive role in all of the films, really coming across as a strong character. With Luke and Han, the Trinity makes up my favourite three-lead character group of all time. Nothing can beat these three when they’re together, and individually, they’re all pretty badass. Leia is a very independent, strong character – and this, among other reasons, is why she’s on the list.
WHY? I’ll admit, I wasn’t such a big fan of Lois Lane before Man of Steel. She probably wouldn’t have made it on this list at all. But then, along came Amy Adams, who knocked it out of the park with her performance, actually making Lois seem like the star Journalist she was meant to be. I mean, after years of disbelief over the fact that she does not knowing Superman’s identity despite working in the same place as Clark Kent, she actively seeks him out and tracks him down to his home. She has more to do than just sit there and wait for Superman to save her, and plays one of the most important roles in the film. I’d love to see more of the character in the inevetable Man of Steel 2, and in the meantime, I have several comics to catch up on. This character is among the best female actresses in all the Superhero films that I’ve seen, not just in the DC Universe, but in the Marvel Universe as well. She runs circles around Rachel, Bruce Wayne’s best friend, Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, and Pepper Potts. If there was an award for best female character in a superhero film, Amy Adams’ Lois Lane would have this one nailed.
WHY? Like Lois, I wasn’t a big Supergirl fan until recently – in fact, I wasn’t really a big fan of her until I read Michael Alan Nelson’s incredible #20 and #21 of the current ongoing series. Seriously, Kara rocks here – it’s a series that I’m certainly sticking with. She’s a strong character, and it’s great that she’s got an excellent lead title role. I need to get around to picking up the first two volumes of the New 52 run at some point, because I’d love to read more about this character in question. It’s been rumoured that we see her in Man of Steel 2, and I really hope that this is the case. Oh, and just how awesome is that cover art? Certainly among my favourite cover arts of comics this year.
Why? My first exposure to Barbara Gordon as Oracle was through Batman: Arkham City, one of my favourite Video Games of 2012, and I felt that the character was awesome. It wasn’t until Gail Simone’s Batgirl series for the New 52 that I really started to love the character – and whilst I’ve fallen behind on it having only read the first volume, it’s still a damn fine series. Barbara is a very interesting character – not only does she have to hide the mask from the public, but also from her own father, who’s Commisoner James Gordon. This adds a whole new dynamic that none of the Robins had to deal with, and gives Barbara a great challenge, and as a result – she comes across as a very interesting character.
Why? If I had to pick my favourite all-time graphic novel, Watchmen would probably win that spot. Alan Moore’s graphic novel is a classic, and anyone who’s remotley interested in comics should at least read this one. The movie adaption is brilliant as well, and one of my favourite characters out of the entire lot is easily Laurie, aka Silk Spectre. I mean, how awesome is she? I’ve not read the prequel series, but whilst the character may not have the badass factor of Rorsarch or the god-like powers of Dr. Manhattan, that doesn’t stop her from being a very awesome character, both in the graphic novel and in the film.
Why? A Song of Ice and Fire is my favourite novel series ever, and if I had to pick a favourite character, it would be torn between Arya Stark, and Tyrion Lannister. George RR Martin captures the characters really well, and Arya is no different. She’s indepedant, and it’s always her journies that I look forward to reading the most, particularly why I was annoyed when A Feast For Crows didn’t have one chapter from her POV. She’s the youngest character on this list, but still – one of my favourites. Her character has really developed from A Game of Thrones and I can’t wait to see where Martin takes her next.
Why? Valkyrie is one of the three Young Adult characters on this list, and is another recent addition – not added until I first discovered the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy earlier this year. She’s a really strong lead for a story, isn’t part of a love interest, and along with the titular charadcter, Skulduggery, really plays a key role in the series and it’s very interesting to watch her grow as a character. She’s independant, strong – and very awesome.
Why? His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman is my favourite Young Adult series ever written, and Lyra is a very strong lead character. Like Valkyrie, she’s not involved in a love triangle, partly the reason being is that she’s too young at the start of Book One. Her character really carries the book and through her we find someone rootable, as she displays several key, unique qualities that make her just brilliant. It’s just a shame that with such amazing talent, the movie adaptation was just average, ending before one of the most important sequences of the novel. However, in the novel – Lyra is a very strong, likeable character, who carries the bulk of the trilogy.
WHY? Because Vin is awesome. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy is one of my favourite epic fantasy series, and Vin is a very strong lead character. She develops over time, and really, really kicks ass. She’s powerful, strong and a great lead character, and what’s more, she doesn’t come across as Mary-Sue-ish or overly powerful despite her considerable rise in fortune and role in the book. Her character journey is perhaps the greatest of all of the ones mentioned here, from urchin to a noblewoman, and she’s easily one of the most powerful as well, apart from maybe River Tam. Not too familiar yet with Supergirl – despite the fact she still makes this list, but I believe she isn’t that close behind either.
KAYLEE, INARA, ZOE AND RIVER TAM
WHY? Of course, they’re not all Tam sisters, I just felt like adding them all together because not only are they from the same show, but they’re also equally awesome and I really couldn’t decide which character I liked more. Inara is a very awesome character, Zoe with her loyalty to Mal & Wash equally so, with River being incredibly badass for somebody that’s meant to be insane, and Kaylee is the most likeable, charming and friendly out of the lot. Whilst in any other’s hands they could easily be bland, stereotypical characters, Joss Whedon is incredibly gifted with his portrayal of female characters, and here is no different. I couldn’t pick a favourite out of all four, for they’re so incredibly awesome. All of the Firefly cast are – there’s a reason why it’s my favourite TV show ever made, and that’s the strength in its characters. It’s very awesome watching their encounters over the course of the series, how they interact, their awesome one-liners, Inara’s banter with Mal – I could go on, but of course, if you’re even remotely interested in Sci-Fi TV, then you’ll have seen Firefly and already know how awesome these characters are. If not, then I strongly advise you head out and watch it immediately.
Of course, this is no means the definitive list. I could discover more and more characters as time goes on, or I’m simply forgetting somebody that I need to add to this list. However, all characters here, whether I’ve read two issues with them featuring or watched every film that they’re in multiple times over, they’re among my list of favourite female characters. Now I’m going to hand the reigns over to you and ask – who are your favourite female characters in SFF/Comics?