Wednesday, April 17, 2019

HEROINE HEADCOUNT: RED SONJA



Red Sonja began as the Robert E. Howard one-shot character "Red Sonya of Rogatino," who was re-worked into an ongoing heroine by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith.

Though she was made a part of Conan's world, she's maintained a strong and independent visibility in the world of established franchises, if only thanks to the 1985 movie and the many outstanding renditions of the character by Frank Thorne, as seen here.

HEROINE HEADCOUNT: THE QUEEN OF SWORDS




This "lady Zorro" enjoyed only one syndicated season of 22 episodes in 2000. Nice stuntwork and a good performance by Tessie Santiago, though no one was re-inventing the wheel here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

HEROINE HEADCOUNT: PURDEY



I've already covered the other three femme-adventurers from the British AVENGERS franchise, Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, and Tara King. The last of this group, known only as Purdey, appeared in the 1976-7 series THE NEW AVENGERS, where she teamed up with old hand Steed and a new younger male agent.

Though competently acted, Purdey's character never came alive thanks to desultory scripting.

HEROINE HEADCOUNT: ORACLE



Way back when I wrote this essay on the 1966 Batgirl, I said that her identity as the wheelchair-bound "Oracle" deserved a separate write-up.

Oracle was created by John Ostrander and Kim Yale as an enigmatic information broker, though it didn't take long for her identity as the crippled Barbara Gordon to be revealed. Though writer Chuck Dixon deserves credit for initiating the concept of making Oracle the center of the all-female team Birds of Prey, later writer Gail Simone gets the lion's share of approbation for making the Oracle version of Barbara Gordon more interesting than she'd ever been as Batgirl.

Of course, eventually the character went back to being Batgirl, with interesting if mixed results, but that's another story.

Incidentally, it looks like "O" will be one of the first letters I run out of. Apparently names like Olive and Odetta just aren't popular as heroine-names.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

HEROINE HEADCOUNT: NAMORA



At a time when DC had yet to give birth to Batwoman or Supergirl, Timely Comics introduced a female cousin for their popular male hero, Namor the Sub-Mariner. She first appeared as a guest star in the Sub-Mariner story for MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #82 (1947), and made the majority of her appearance in her cousin's tales, though she had three issues of her own series in 1948.

Namora had largely the same powers of strength and ankle-winged flight as Namor, and disappeared during the Silver Age, until a retcon story accounted for her absence and introduced her daughter Namorita, who would later join the supergroup New Warriors.

HEROINE HEADCOUNT: MARGUERITE KRUX



As noted here, the original Conan Doyle LOST WORLD practically sports a sign "no girls allowed." But starting with the 1925 silent film, cinematic adaptations have almost always included female characters on the expedition, the better to engage female audiences.

As far as I can tell, Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely) seems to be the first such female explorer who could fight as well as a guy.

Monday, March 11, 2019

HEROINE HEADCOUNT: LAS LUCHADORAS



Mexican superhero wrestlers caught fire in the 1950s, particularly with the famed "El Santo," but the first "luchadoras" feature in film begins with 1963's DOCTOR OF DOOM. The film introduces Gloria Venus (Lorena Velasquez) and Golden Ruby (Elizabeth Campbell) as two tough lady wrestlers who have to destroy a mad scientist and his humanized ape. It's delirious fun, though the second in the series, WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY is only so-so, despite crossing over with the "Aztec Mummy" series.

There were four more luchadoras films, none of which I've seen, though not with the same actresses, since Velasquez never returned to the role.