Ultimate Aunt May
Ultimate Spiderman was one of the first superhero comics I read. What made the comic stand out to me was the real depths of the characters. This wasn’t just Spidey swinging around kicking people. This was a complex story with a network of characters supporting and enhancing the story. In particular were the strong women who surrounded Peter. At the forefront of course is Aunt May, who, far cry from the doddering old lady we saw in the movie, is an active and caring parental figure who will not take crap from anyone. It was a tough choice picking just one moment, between her acceptance of Peter as Spiderman, her bringing Gwen Stacey (and later Bobby Drake and Johnny Storm) into her house, her pulling a gun on Eddie Brock (and later Electro) her confronting Peter about his selfish and self-abusive attitude (during his It’s Not You It’s My Enemies phase) or her making eggs in the middle of the night to help deal with teen drama. In the end, I had to go with the time she got Peter his job at the Daily Planet back, if only for the completely nonchalant way she goes about it that lets you know this is a woman who would do anything for her child(ren) without thinking twice. (And it’s a moment that is later referenced by J.J.J. asking Peter to never sic his Aunt on him again)
Image from Ultimate Spider-Man #48 by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Mark Bagely and Art Thibert)
Birds of Prey - “We made something great here.”
There’s so much I love about Birds of Prey, particularly Gail Simone’s run, and there are so many great moments I could mention.
Barbara Gordon, Dinah Lance, Helena Bertinelli and Zinda Blake are all amazing characters with incredible courage and strength, and I could spend paragraphs raving about any one of them. But today I just want to take a moment to appreciate their relationships, as a team and as friends. Because the way they were written, their wonderful camaraderie and the deep friendship these women shared… I miss that, a lot. And it’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
(Scans from Birds of Prey #99 and #108.)
Uncanny X-Men #218, 1987
This issue shows four X-Men—Psylocke, Dazzler, Longshot, and Rogue—working together to take down the Juggernaut AND stop a train crash. The fact that three fourths of the heroes in this issue are female is a non-issue. That’s what I liked most about Claremont-era X-Men: the ratio of men to women was fairly evenly balanced. Women were respected, important members of the team, and their gender had no bearing on their status.
(Writer: Chris Claremont; artist: Mark Silvestri)
Wonder Woman: A League of One
Christopher Moeller’s JLA: A League of One is ostensibly about the Justice League, but really it’s a Wonder Woman story, and a damn good one.
New Mutants #66
New Mutants never lacked for great characters, male and female. It’s unusual in at some points there were more female than male members. This moment focuses on Illyana Rasputin, the mutant turned demon sorceress, and Rahne Sinclair, the werewolf girl from a brutal, fundamentalist background.
Initially, Rahne was terrified of Illyana, telling Sam Guthrie that both of them were “spawn of Satan.” As the series progresses, Illyana’s evil side becomes more powerful, but at the same time, Rahne has outgrown her fear. In New Mutants #66, Illyana tries to kill Forge, blaming him for her brother’s death. Her demonic nature has nearly taken over. It’s Rahne who persuades her not to do it. And later, as Illyana is wracked with guilt for almost killing Forge and her friends, Rahne replies, “Almost isn’t did!” This small moment shows how far Rahne has come—from a frightened, sheltered girl to a bold, compassionate young woman. She’s the one who reminds Illyana that she isn’t totally evil, and she sees Illyana’s potential for redemption.
Writer: Louise Simonson; artist: Bret Blevins
Paul Dini and Alex Ross wrote and illustrated Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth. One of the things I admired about this book is it addressed Wonder Woman’s personal growth. It addresses the fact that although she comes as an ambassador of peace, and understanding many times she’s rejected because of peoples perception of her. It’s a very human quality everyone faces at some point.
This is her acceptance moment the scan may not show it well but it reads: “I now realize I am a warrior as much as I am a woman of peace. I can never place one half of my soul above the other, though now I feel they coexist more harmoniously then ever before. Heroine, Demigodess, Soldier, Peacemaker - I am all these things in part, yet none of them completely”
I think this is a great summary not only of personal development important to all characters in comics, but also a realization of the true depth a character can have. To often characters are one sided, they were created and used for one purpose, but this really shows how deep a character can be when written and developed well.