Scott Snyder – story & Rafael Albuquerque - art
Published by Vertigo Comics
Maybe it’s the fact that we are given the opportunity to see Pearl grow and mature over the course of the series…
Maybe it’s the way she remains vulnerable and emotionally open throughout everything she faces…
Maybe it’s the giant claws and lethal biting power…
Whatever the case may be Pearl is a testament to the power of strong female characters in the comic genre. Her resilience stands apart from her initial setting. We meet Pearl in 1920s Hollywood, hardly a time-and-place that fosters tough, independent, feminine strength. However she becomes a force to be reckoned with after a group of sinister old world vampires try to do her in. She is first a survivor; she parlays that positive energy into becoming a true fighter. She bravely protects those she cares about and maintains a sense of incorruptible humanity that makes her relatable and beautiful.
Even before she becomes an American Vampire, she is a free spirit. Moving away from home to follow her dreams of becoming an actress, she has a sense of agency that would have been rare for women of that era. She is bold, as evidenced by the fact that she dons a large tattoo between her shoulder blades in the early 20th century. She is uncompromising, and willing to work hard to make her life what she wants it to be. Pearl holds down a couple of jobs in addition to working as an extra on big Hollywood films. She is focused, initially rejecting the advances of would-be suitors. She is human, unable to stop herself from falling in love. Her character is well-developed, admirable, and identifiable even before she is anything more than an aspiring actress. Personally, I think that is why she remains so successful after her transformation. If we were not introduced to Pearl, the woman, I do not think that we would be so enamored with Pearl the vampire.
We see Pearl struggle with her power, her immortality, and her own feelings as she grows throughout the series. Her efforts to reconcile what she is with the person she wants to be gives her a vitality and vibrance.
Pearl is a strong character because of her complexity, humanity, and strong will. She is sure to endure the test of time.
Thanks to those who voted, stay tuned for more polls in the near future. Let me know what you’d like to see on the site! Leave comments, send me e-mails (email@example.com) or track me down on twitter (@comicsonice) Its always great to hear from y’all!
I think a case can be made for any of these characters. Each one is tough, and thoroughly unique. Let’s take it from the top shall we? I wanted to look at characters with relatively short histories, so Barbara Gordon and Kate Bishop will not be making appearances on this list. This is strictly for the next generation of comic heroines. So without further ado, let’s talk about the top-10 toughest new girls in comics.
Alana – Saga
It was hard to choose just one woman to represent the cast of Saga from Image Comics by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. The Stalk, Izabel, Gwendolyn, Klara, and even Lying Cat could have been on this list. I ultimately decided on Alana because she faces off with bad guys, pilots a space ship, and saves the love of her life with a newborn in tow. Despite her extreme circumstances she manages to be a pretty great mom to Hazel. She doesn’t allow herself to be defined by her maternal role, but she takes it very seriously.
Izzy Dare/Smasher – The Avengers
Isabel “Izzy” Dare, or Smasher, gets her own issue in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers from Marvel Comics (Avengers #5). We learn that this incarnation of the hero is a small-town girl from Iowa. She is a brilliant science student who returns from her studies to help her father take care of the family farm and spend time with her ailing grandfather, Dan Dare (who had quite a few adventures of his own back in the day). After finding a pair of cybernetic goggles in a corn field she becomes an intergalactic defender, Smasher. She saves the world, rises through the ranks, and becomes an Avenger to boot. She also takes her responsibilities to her loved ones very seriously. She juggles superpowers and deep familial love quite well.
Harper Row – Batman
In Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo for DC Comics we find a host of powerful characters, but Harper has captured our imaginations, well mine at least. She is a headstrong, brave, and intelligent young woman who believes in Batman’s power as a symbol of hope and does everything in her power to make sure he always makes it out of his conflicts alive. She recognizes his mortality and her ability to help him. Despite his warnings to stay away, she knows that she is an invaluable ally to the Caped Crusader, and continues to provide assistance. In addition to her complex relationship with Batman, she serves as a mother figure for her little brother, Cullen, and would stop at nothing to defend him. She is a dynamic new defender of Gotham.
Mara – Mara
I think the reason that I am so impressed with the title character from the Image Comics series, Mara, by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle, & Jordie Bellaire is due to the surprise I experienced while reading about her. She is a seventeen-year-old superstar. She has access to unlimited resources, and fame enough to make a Kardashian feel like a nobody. She is beautiful, talented, wealthy, and adored. Yet she instead of being the primadonna one might expect; she is poised and unyieldingly brave. When she begins to manifest super-human abilities, she boldly confronts the public. She refuses to be terrorized into compromising her character.
Cherry/Penny - Hawkeye
I love a girl that keeps the men in her life on their toes. This redheaded force of nature from Fraction & Aja in Hawkeye from Marvel Comics does just that. She uses her sexuality to charm Clint Barton into taking part in her schemes. She is unafraid to take on a challenge or to stack the deck in her favor. She may not be the most independent woman in the world, but she does not shy away from danger. She’s a nice throwback to the comic book bad girls of days gone by.
Pearl Jones – American Vampire
From the Vertigo Comic series American Vampire by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, comes this impossibly strong character. What I love about Pearl is that she starts out a victim, but refuses to remain one. Her evolution over the course of the series has been a journey of self acceptance, growth, and empowerment. The Pearl we know today is a far cry from the Hollywood hopeful taken advantage of in the beginning of this series. She has become intensely powerful force; knowing her vulnerabilities and her history makes her inspiring and endearing.
Olive Chu - Chew
The daughter of Tony Chu, the central character in Chew from Image Comics by John Layman and Rob Guillory, has recently started coming into her own. Olive was previously little more than an angst-ridden teen (albeit an incredibly lovable one). In recent issues under the tutelage of Mason Savoy, she has begun to hone her abilities and learn new skills that promise to give her a new role in this one-of-a-kind series.
Tamara Devoux/Captain Universe – The Avengers
So, she has the power of the entire universe coursing through her. Seems tough to me. Jonathan Hickman gives us another example of a strong and complex female character from The Avengers from Marvel Comics. Despite the awful things that happened to her before becoming the host for universal power, Tamara has already saved the world once in this new role.
Jospehine - Fatale
In the series Fatale from Image Comics by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips we are introduced to the mysterious and powerful character, Jo. She can bend any man alive to her will. Jo also seems to be immortal or at least ageless. She has a unique connection to supernatural forces, and a survival instinct that makes her a true fighter. She takes on physical challenges and devastating circumstances at every turn. Her resilience is truly remarkable.
Eva Bell - All New X-men & Uncanny X-men
Brian Michael Bendis’ contributions to Marvel’s X-men universe already shine in this new character. Eva can freeze time. As a young mutant, she is unsure of herself and her powers, but with each issue she appears in she grows more confident and bettered respected by the members of her team. She is a truly powerful new mutant.
I will be the first to admit this last is anything but complete. Write in and tell me who should have been listed that I missed, or let me know if you think there is a clear number one on the list. Be sure to vote. I will repost this list in the order that you vote in.
comment here or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow me on twitter @comicsonice
The guys were nice enough to feature a review I wrote for The Unwritten on their weekly podcast. Please check them out. Its a great active community, get involved and support your fellow fanboys (and fangirls too) Follow me on Twitter @comicsonice
So then Peter Gross looked at Mike Carey an said, “Why not zombies?”
This is the comic I used to sight when my fellow English majors attempted to dismiss comics as silly. So, it was a little hard for me to accept that these fellows, who had once staged a lengthy discussion between Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, were moving on to subjects like full frontal nudity, casual sex, vampires, zombies, and procedural detective work.
Once I got through the silliness, and my disappointment that the Tom Taylor meets Bunny Lucifer in Hell story was not going to be sewn up for two months; I have to say it was a fairly successful issue. Mike Carey can write a young adolescent with pitch-perfect innocence and angst. He did so in his series Lucifer, with young Elaine Belloc; and here again with Jason, a young horror buff whose imagination is getting the better of him. Another highlight of this issue for me is the return of Midge, the Australian detective. I find her fascinating, and enjoy reading about most anyone who has ridden a unicorn to the rescue.
Peter Gross’ style remains consistent and accessible. He handles facial expressions with finesse and does a nice job driving home plot points visually. This issue did not leave me feeling that I had to know what happened next, or cursing the twenty-eight days before I will see it again. I am curious to see where it goes from here, but I miss the elevated concepts the series took on early in its run.
I write about comic books from a feminist literary perspective. I am a writer for Image Addiction, and I blog at comicsonice.com Currently living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with my husband, son and dachshund.