In 2011, DC Comics rebooted its superhero universe, replacing it with the “New 52” reality. The reboot was meant to start things fresh, expand familiar characters in exciting new ways, and bring in more readers. That’s a good goal! But the reboot hasn’t taken advantage of some really interesting women who’ve inhabited the DC Universe in the past, heroic females who could truly expand the universe and reader appeal. So here is a not-nearly-complete list of just some of the cool lady heroes we’d like to see back in DC Comics in major ways (and tomorrow, we’ll look at a similar list for Marvel Comics).
Check out the list after the break…
KATE SPENCER – MANHUNTER
FIRST APPEARANCE: Manhunter vol. 3 #1 (2004)
CREATED BY: Marc Andreyko and Jesus Saiz
Kate Spencer was a divorced mom who worked as a lawyer. That already makes for good drama, but then add in her decision to use stolen superhero equipment to take down bad guys as “Manhunter.” The result was a compelling character grounded in emotional reality who quickly gained a dedicated fanbase.
There is an attitude among some creators that getting married and/or having a kid is the end of a character’s story. Kate showed this was ridiculous. Despite fan support, after a few years she sadly lost her series and hasn’t been seen since 2011. But fans still talk about her and ask when she might come back. In the New 52 DC Universe where many heroes have been de-aged and had their marriages erased from history, Kate would truly be something different and could appeal to folks who don’t go for the normal superhero flavors.
LORENA MARQUEZ – AQUAGIRL
FIRST APPEARANCE: Aquaman vol. 6 #16 (2004)
CREATED BY: Will Pfeifer and Patrick Gleason
After losing her family, Lorena Marquez quickly learned that she had aquatic abilities similar to Aquaman. Believing there was nothing left of her old life to return to, she became the second hero called Aquagirl and dedicated herself to protecting others. She never shirked from a challenge and often met obstacles with sass and confidence.
But since the New 52 DC Universe began, Lorena hasn’t been seen. That’s a damn shame. She’s a fun character with a great costume. She could operate as a great addition to Aquaman’s book, as a member of the Teen Titans or as an adventurer working on her own. The ocean’s a big place. Aquaman can’t be expected to protect all of it by himself.
SELMA TOLON – JANISSARY
FIRST APPEARANCE: JLA Annual #4 (2000)
CREATED BY: Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Scott
Introduced as the national hero of Turkey, Selma Tolon was originally a medical doctor working for the Red Crescent when she came across two fantastic items: the Book of Eternity (containing the spells of Merlin), and the enchanted scimitar of Suleiman I, tenth and longest reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Only a brave and noble person could wield the scimitar and Selma fit the bill. With the weapon and the book, she became the Janissary, hoping to be an ideal to the Muslim community while “working to build a better tomorrow for everyone.”
She’s educated, altruistic, a good fighter, and connected to Merlin. At the same time, Selma had a lot of room to grow since she was new to the superhero game and very much a rookie when it came to spellcasting. Yet despite this very interesting premise, Janissary made appearances in less than a dozen comics before vanishing entirely. This kind of character would be really interesting to explore in today’s world and it’s odd that no one’s brought her back yet.
FIRST APPEARANCE: JLA #13 (1997)
CREATED BY: Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, N. Steven Harris and Howard Porter
In 1996, a man named Uno became the hero Aztek. He starred in his own (sadly short-lived) series before joining the Justice League of America. A few years later, he sacrificed his life to help save Earth from destruction. But in JLA #13, writer/creator Grant Morrison and artist Howard Porter gave showed us a possible future Earth where Uno’s high-tech/mystical armor was inherited by a lady hero calling herself Azteka.
That future was erased, but that’s no reason to say Azteka can’t show up now and rock out in the New 52 reality. Considering how dark much of the DC Universe is these days, it could really use a fun hero with a positive spirit and a level of firepower that rivals Wonder Woman and Superman. But maybe just call her Aztek.
FIRST APPEARANCE: Batman vol. 1 #475 (1992)
CREATED BY: Sean Catherine Derek, Laren Bright, Mitch Brian
Created for Batman: The Animated Series (and then pre-emptively introduced in the comics), Renee started off as a dedicated cop assigned to assist Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon. She grew to be a major detective and occasional ally to the Batman. Later still, she came out as a lesbian, left the GCPD and studied with Vic Sage, the vigilante known as the Question. Following Vic’s death, Renee became the new Question, tackling threats and conspiracies that otherwise went unnoticed and inspiring a global police force.
But Renee, like some other LGBT characters, has been absent from the DC Universe ever since the New 52 started in 2011. One comic even implied she might be dead in this reality. Unacceptable. Renee was awesome and she’s about to be one of the leading characters of the Fox TV series Gotham. Bring her back. Even if she’s no longer the Question, she’s a good character who add a lot to the DC Universe.
FIRST APPEARANCE: Infinity Inc. vol. 1 #4 (1987)
CREATED BY: Roy Thomas and Todd McFarlane
Originally introduced as a member of the villainous Injustice Society, Artemis Crock was the daughter of golden age criminals Sportsmaster and Tigress II. Despite having incredible fighting abilities and weapons training, she was never used often and later fell into unfortunate tropes. But the lady got a lot of fans from the cartoon series Young Justice. With a slightly altered past and now portrayed as a bi-racial teenager, viewers got to see Artemis as an interesting bad-ass with leadership qualities and a great wit.
Sadly, rather than take advantage of this incarnation’s popularity, when the New 52 reality introduced its version of Artemis Crock in 2012 it was only so she could be quickly killed. That’s right, she was fridged so that her death would inspire the Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes to join forces and fight her killer Harvest, a villain they had lots of reasons to fight anyway. We were later told that she was healed from her injuries while we weren’t looking, but that’s not good enough. We should see Artemis living up to how great she was in Young Justice (seriously, someone get this show a third season online already).
FIRST APPEARANCE: The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #60 (1965)
CREATED BY: Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani
She’s had different origins over the years. For a while, she was an orphaned girl taken in by Wonder Woman and raised for years as her younger sister. Later, it was said she was actually a clone of Wonder Woman created by magic. Either way, Donna Troy (sometimes called “Wonder Girl” or “Troia”) was a bright light in the DC Universe. With her great fighting spirit and calming, affable nature, Donna was an early member of the original Teen Titans and came to be a capable leader on the team. She lived by Wonder Woman’s lessons of unity and truth yet was never just a sidekick. She also served for a time as a member of the Darkstars, intergalactic space cops who generally weren’t as nice as the Green Lanterns.
Since the New 52 reality started, Wonder Woman has left behind the calling of ambassador for peace and has inherited the title/role of god of war. Meanwhile, Donna Troy has been mysteriously absent and even a couple of references made to her existence were erased when those issues were collected in trade. It’s sad to think her existence has been wiped away when she may be needed now more than ever before. The past few years have involved several stories where DC’s heroes have been at odds, with different Justice League teams fighting each other like rival gangs. If Donna returned, she might be the right person to finally unify Earth’s champions.
We hope you enjoyed this list. Who else do you think could use a spotlight? And don’t forget to join us again tomorrow for our look at female heroes of Marvel Comics who should get the spotlight.