Geeks logo


Lady Comic Book History Podcast

By Alexandrea CallaghanPublished 3 years ago 10 min read

Today we are rounding out the 50s and beginning the 60s. We have some very special ladies to talk about today, some more recognizable than others. This is an exceptionally long one so if you’d rather listen please check out the Lady Comic Book History Podcast.

Beginning our day we have Irma Ardeen, a massively talented telepath of the 30th century known as Saturn Girl; she is one of the founding members of the Legion of Superheroes. Irma is the most talented telepath among her race of powerful mentalists and she left her home world of titan to join the space police as a teenager. As a member of the Legion she gained a reputation for self-sacrifice, she was always the one willing to make the sacrifice play but as she was a very valuable member of the team other members almost always stepped in to keep her alive. Saturn Girl became the first female comic book character to lead a group of superheroes. She ends up marrying fellow member Lightning Lad, and as per Legion rules they retire, a rule that was later repealed after the team found themselves in need of the power couples help. Though Lightning Lad stayed retired for a while Irma rejoined the Legion again when Universo took control of the earth. She broke herself and the earth free of Universo’s control. After retiring again Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad use their wealth to feed the hungry and poor of their galaxy. This once powerful, strong, independent woman of the late 50s fell into the 90s and was soon stripped of everything that made her a powerful female character.

Come Zero Hour she was turned into nothing more then a girl who was torn between 2 love interests, left catatonic from using her powers and was only restored to her proper mental state when Lightning Lad told her he need her *GAG* 2005 brought another more harsh wave of misogynistic bullshit, in which her only way to communicate was telepathically because her race lost their vocal cords due to evolution in other words silencing women metaphorically wasn’t good enough so they decided to do it literally as well, how efficient I would like to reiterate that this change was made in 2005, it's crap like this that makes me want nothing more then for all men to stop creating anything...ever. Our once compassionate, self-sacrificing hero now being portrayed as a serious, introverted, cold, self-isolated weak shell of who she should be who harbors deep feelings of inadequacy because Lightning Lad wasn’t showing enough attention and she felt that their failing relationship was because she wasn’t attractive enough, she was too plain and she was handicapped because she couldn’t speak…..I’m trying to take a deep breath but I truly have never been so angry about the handling of a fictional character before and I’m a fan of Game of Thrones….I really don’t think I have to spoon feed why all of that is deeply misogynistic sexist bullshit which is great because I genuinely can not reiterate it without getting irrationally angry.

We are starting 1959 with Supergirl! Like many other ladies that we have had the opportunity to discuss, Supergirl is a title that has been held by several different characters. The original and most well known Supergirl being Kara Zor-El the cousin of Superman. She made her first appearance in Action Comics #252 in May of 1959 and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino. She was created as a counterpart to Superman and as such has the same powers and shares his vulnerability to Kryptonite. She lived as a sidekick in both Action Comics, Superman and other titles unrelated to her cousin. She didn't get her chance to step into the spotlight until 1969 when her stories took the lead in Adventure Comics, later starring in her own title in 1972 which ran until 1974 which was followed up by a monthly comic book series The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl which ran from 1982 to 1984. Due to DC changing it's editorial policy Supergirl was initially killed off in the 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earth. The post Crisis story lines established Superman’s character as the sole survivor of Krypton’s destruction. Therefore setting a trend of characters that have no familial relationship to Superman taking the title of Supergirl.

Supergirl was reintroduced in issue #8 of the Superman/Batman series that was published in 2004. In the new continuity Kara is still Superman’s cousin, however at the time of Krypton’s destruction she was placed in an extended period of suspended animation and arrives on earth years after Kal-El. August of 2005 marked the launch of the new Supergirl series, the first story line of the new series is a much darker one depicting Kara as she is exposed to black kryptonite. Supergirl being created as a direct counterpart to Superman was evident in The Crisis story line issue #7 in October of 1985 when she is made the sacrificial lamb in order to save Superman and the multiverse (Honestly girl...should have let both die) and the post Crisis creators decided to make Kal-el the sole survivor of Krypton. And here comes the very definition of fridging: she is one of the only characters that died during the crisis story line that no one remembers or even acknowledges as having existed.

She is brought back in Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes where she is transported to the 31st century and exhibits new powers; manifesting sun crystals from her body when under duress. Her New 52 reboot was among one of the only good ones as the creators further humanized her, she wakes up on earth and attacks Clark believing him to be an impostor of her cousin, she fights the idea that her planet was destroyed and once she accepts it she really struggles with her grief.

Another version of Supergirl is Matrix otherwise known as Linda Danvers who had her own title starting in September of 1996. This version of Supergirl begins with Matrix sacrificing herself to save a dying Linda Danvers and their bodies, minds, and souls merge to become an “earth-born angel” giving her the ability to teleport.

Other versions of Supergirl are; Powergirl - Kara Zor-el from Earth-2, Laurel Grand - she was the post-crisis replacement for pre-crisis Supergirl in the Legion of Superheroes, Ariella Kent - Supergirl of the 853rd century later revealed to be the daughter of post-crisis Linda Danvers and Silver Age style Superman.

Next up we’ve got Lady Blackhawk first appearing as Zinda Blake she was introduced in DC Comics Blackhawk #133 in 1959, the second Natalie Reed appeared in 1988, the third debuted in 2011. Linda Blake, determined to become the first woman member of the famed WW2 unit known as the Blackhawks she trained herself to pilot a wide range of modern aircraft and made herself an expert in various forms of combat and weaponry. I know this all sounds well and good but don't worry we’re gonna get to the sexism here real quick, after being admitted as an honorary member of the Blackhawks Zinda fell victim to Killer Shark, a Nazi operative who uses a chemical potion to brainwash her making her Queen Killer Shark. So after being told the Blackhawk team was just for men despite her being qualified they threw an honorary title and then brainwashed her and made her a killing machine….chill. In 2004 Zinda became the pilot for the Birds of Prey, she resigns in Birds of Prey issue #107, but becomes Barbara Gordon’s aid in issue #108.

Our second Lady Blackhawk Natalie Reed came to the mantle in the mini-series Blackhawk in 1988, she was eventually retconned as the first Lady Blackhawk and she was dubbed Lady Blackhawk by the US Press while working with the Blackhawks against Soviet forces. She somehow loses the use of one eye and soon after has a child with fellow Blackhawk Ritter Hendricksen.

One of the several Hawkgirl’s even had a stint as Lady Blackhawk, Kendra Saunders took up the name in Dark Nights: Metal issue #1 where she acts as the leader of the Blackhawks, she returns to her Hawkgirl alias in issue #5, she is the one that saves Batman during All-Star Batman in issue #9.

Other versions include Batman: The Brave and the Bold where a team of jetpack wearing female soldiers known collectively as the Lady Blackhawks appear in issue #21, in Flashpoint Zinda Blake was a member of Team-7, Society of Super-Heroes where a team of Lady Blackhawks provides flying support to the Society of Superheroes.

Continuing with 1959 we have Aquagirl, otherwise known as Lisa Morel was introduced in Adventure Comics #266 in November of 1959 as one of several Atlantean children who had been sent to the surface so that they may survive around the land dwellers. When Aquaman was in danger her water-breathing and telepathic abilities awakened and she made herself a costume identical to Aquaman’s and took on the name Aquagirl so that she could fight beside him. However her newly awakened powers are short lived and she loses them permanently, this is the first and last appearance of her character. So in a single issue we have several strikes of sexism, DC truly outdoing themselves with this one, the first being the GIRL part of her title. Just a classic case of a grown ass woman being reduced to the infantile portion of her life to subliminally make the male character seem stronger, which feeds right into strike 2 being that her character was a lazily created counterpart to an already existent male character who is far less relevant due to the extreme lack of care put into her existence which brings us nicely to strike 3 making her semi-relevant for 1 issue and then stripping her of her powers and never acknowledging her existence again. The next character to take up the title of Aquagirl is Selena, Poseidon’s teenage daughter making her first appearance in World’s Finest Comics #133 in May of 1963 wait for it we get to the sexism quick on this one she takes up the title in order to make her ex boyfriend jealous, she also appears in a single issue never to be heard from or acknowledged again. Next up we have Tula who was introduced in the first volume of Aquaman issue #33 in May of 1967, this iteration of Aquagirl is the first one whose existence survives more then one issue, she becomes a member of the Teen Titans and makes featured appearances in the Crisis on Infinite Earths and Blackest Night story lines. The most recent grown woman to take the title of Aquagirl is Lorena Marquez making her debut in the 6th volume of Aquaman issue #16 in May of 2004. Lorena is also a member of the Teen Titans and doesn’t graduate to calling herself Aquawoman until the Titans Tomorrow story line.

Kicking of 1960 we have Arrowette, civilian name Bonnie King first appearance in World’s Finest Comics issue #113 in November of 1960. Bonnie was trained her archery since she was a child, later being a bronze medal Olympian. She decides to use her archery skills for good and attempts to help the Green Arrow and Speedy a number of times but the sexist handling of her character got in the way, she was too vain to wear a mask, too clumsy to actually be a hero and her “trick” arrows all had a feminine slant like her ”powder puff” arrow. She also had to permanently give up archery due to wait for her job as a secretary. The second Arrowette is Cissie King-Jones, Bonnie’s daughter. Forced into the superhero life by her mother their relationship becomes strained and Cissie becomes your typical rebellious teenage girl, even stating that if she had the choice to quit being a superhero that she would ask her mother's advice and then do the opposite in order to establish herself as an independent person.

It seems sexism was worse in the 50s then it was in the 40s which considering the state of society and the impact the end of the war had on women makes sense, however it doesn't excuse or justify, it simply explains.


About the Creator

Alexandrea Callaghan

Certified nerd, super geek and very proud fangirl.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.