Who says villains should have all the fun? A few weeks ago we covered our 10 favorite female villains of comics in a diverse and exhaustive list and now it’s the heroes turn.
As with female villains, female heroes often have different motives, aspirations, and origin stories compared to their male counterparts and because many are more modern incarnations and tend to be edgier than the tried and true heroes of old.
And as always, when we say ‘our’ list, we mean it – all of our writers made their own personal top 10 lists, then we applied a points-based system to compile a group top ten. This list is the final result. It’s an overall top 10 that reflects our preferences as a team and not any one individual’s top choices.
There have been many incarnations of Batgirl over the years but none are more famous than Barbara Gordon. Starting off simply as the daughter of Jim Gordon she grows into her role as Batgirl alongside the rest of the Batfamily but ultimately steps out of even Batman’s long shadow.
She’s perhaps best known for one of the more shocking events in comics in which The Joker shoots and paralyzes her, in which she is forced to put down the cape and cowl, but after a brief respite that saw 3 different pick up the Batgirl mantle, Barbara again was able to pick up the purple tights.
Batgirl’s popularity has transcended comics too, being featured in the animated movie adaptation of The Killing Joke, as well as in many animated DCAU films and The Lego Batman movie.
9. Miss Martian
Miss Martian is a relative newcomer to comics but has already made her mark in that short amount of time. First appearing in Teen Titans #37 in 2006, Miss Martian is a white Martian (as opposed to a green Martian like the Martian Manhunter) and was sent as a baby in a rocket to a Vega system to escape the Martian civil war. Since then, she’s been featured in many DC properties including on the mega popular series Young Justice and an appearance in CW’s Supergirl.
After appearing on Earth, Miss Martian quickly joins the Teen Titans, but is thought to be a traitor. When the real traitor is revealed however, she fights with the Titans and becomes a full fledged member of the team.
Like many Martians, Miss Martian has a vast array of abilities, including shape shifting, flight, and telepathy and telekenesis.
One of the most popular members of the most popular teams in comics history, Starfire is the sometimes leader of the Teen Titans. She’s been featured in numerous DC media, including The Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go on Cartoon Network, in the feature length animated movie Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, and in the Injustice video game series.
First appearing in DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980, Starfire is a princess from the planet Tamaran. After being betrayed by her jealous sister, Starfire is kidnapped and taken from her home and forced into slavery. Starfire eventually escaped captivity and came to Earth, without any knowledge of her new surroundings.
She soon encountered her near constant love Dick Grayson and with a kiss gained knowledge of the planet and his language. For years since Starfire has been a prominent member and mentor to younger Teen Titans, and has remained popular through her and the Teen Titans many media appearances.
7. Wonder Woman
The archetype for female heroes, Wonder Woman is the first and perhaps most famous female hero of the bunch and one of the big three in DC’s Trinity.
Despite her confusing origins, Wonder Woman remains a mainstay in American culture, representing not only feminine ideals but the values any person can aspire to. She’s been featured in numerous comic volumes, a founding member of the Justice League, and has featured in a hit TV show and most recently a cornerstone of the DCEU in films like Wonder Woman and Justice League.
Born as the Amazonian princess Diana, Wonder Woman quickly makes her way to “mans world” where she encounters war, revenge, anger, and hate and is determined to fight aggression wherever she can with peace and love. Representing femininity through strength, Wonder Woman has inspired many young girls over the years.
Hellcat aka Patsy Walker is originally a character spawned out of the pulp teen humor comics of the 40s but was refashioned as a more classical hero in the 70s in The Avengers #144.
One of the more interesting origin stories ever conceived, Patsy Walker starts her life in the Marvel Universe as a comic book character herself. As a way to introduce her to new readers, her original romance and humor comics were retconned as being written by her mother in the main Marvel universe itself.
Hellcat originally possesses no superpowers and is instead powered by a suit, although she does have advanced combat training. She’s gained popularity with her appearances in Netflix’s Defenders-verse, where her origin is changed to a young child star.
5. Veronica Lodge
The raven-haired memher of the famous Archie Comics duo, Vernonica Lodge has been a fan favorite since the 1940s.
With the reinvention of the Archie universe in CW’s Riverdale though, her popularity has soared to new heights and brought renewed interested to the once idyllic world of Riverdale.
Unlike most of the Archie gang, Veronica is from out of town. Rich, a bit vain, and with supermodel good looks, Veronica is the antithesis to her sometimes rival and best friend Betty.
Death is a member of the endless – a family of omnipotent beings in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. Thought to be the most powerful of her family (and one of the most powerful beings in the universe) Death travels guides the recently deceased into the afterlife.
Quickly becoming a fan favorite among the Endless, she was used sparingly in the main series but was often featured in the expanding universe of Sandman and became the first comic printed under the Vertigo imprint.
Unlike other classical interpretations, Death in the Sandman universe is an almost waif-like being, whose gothic style was inspired by real life muse Cinnamon Hadley.
Sadly, Hadley passed away earlier this year, but her timeless contribution to the character of Death will live on for eons to come.
Supergirl’s popularity has been up and down over the years. The character took a decade long break after 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, where she was retconned out of existence, but recently has come back into the DC fold with renewed interest and a The CW show starring Melissa Benoist.
Starting out on Krypton, Supergirl is born Kara Zor-El and actually predates Kal-El’s departure from the doomed planet. When Kara’s ship is lost in space, time is distorted and she crash lands on Earth after her cousin has become the Superman.
Not keen to play second fiddle though, Supergirl quickly made a name for herself, and has become a star in her own right lately with successful ongoing comic series and the aforementioned TV show. Supergirl may have the same power set as her cousin, but she is no second fiddle to big blue.
2. Betty Cooper
Are you a Betty or a Veronica? It was more than just a popular phrase, and signaled that Betty and Veronica and the Riverdale gang had transcended into mainstream pop culture way back when.
Betty is the quintessential “all-american girl.” Blonde, peppy, smart, and a friend to everyone, she embodies the classic girl next door archetype and is a constant love interest for Archie.
Unlike Veronica, Betty is a Riverdale girl from the start, and actually appears on the very first page of an Archie comic. As with her rival Veronica, the pair have become a mainstream hit again with the CW show Riverdale, where she is portrayed by Lili Reinhart.
At or near the top of most of our individual lists, Raven is the founding member for the Teen Titans and actually recruits the rest of the team in the original appearances.
The daughter of the demon Trigon and human mother Arella, Raven is a powerful empath who can teleport and control mystical energy to aid her in battle. Raven was raised in the alternate dimension of Azarath where she was raised by pacifists under the tutelage of a spiritual leader who taught her to suppress her demonic parentage.
Sensing her fathers impending arrival after her 18th birthday, she arrives on Earth and initially contacts the Justice League but is turned down when Zatanna senses her powers. She then turns to a defunct group of heroes, the Teen Titans and reforms them under Dick Grayson’s leadership.
Do you agree with our picks? Who would you replace? Let us know in the comments.
Image credits: DC, Marvel, Vertigo, Archie Comics