Ten Other Times Heroes Became Women and Nobody Complained
Posted by Seb Patrick at 21:12 on 16 Jul 2014
Okay, so Carrie Kelley was only Robin in the out-of-continuity Dark Knight Returns, but that's also in all likelihood the most-read Batman comic ever published. And besides, figure you want to try telling her to her face she's not the most balls rad Robin there's ever been.
Don't you dare call Kate Bishop "Lady Hawkeye". Look. It's right there on the title page. Hawkeye.
The story of Renee Montoya's unlikely friendship with the original Question, Vic Sage, leading up to his death from cancer and her taking over the role from him was one of the best character arcs to have appeared in a DC comic for a good long while. No-one would have dared to say that having the new Question be a woman was a bad idea, because it was so self-evidently a great one - although that said, I'd be interested to know what Steve Ditko made of the story.
The major benefit Mia Dearden - originally created by Kevin Smith, and a non-costumed sidekick of Green Arrow for a few years before Judd Winick made her the new Speedy - had was that nobody had ever really given a crap about her predecessor Roy Harper, so she was free to forge her own identity. Her snippy, wisecracking relationship with father-figure Ollie made her a better sidekick than he'd been, too.
Another one that was initially out of continuity, although pre-Flashpoint DC seemed to be making several efforts to make the possible future of Kingdom Come an actual future. Anyway, Iris West was the daughter of Wally West, and took on his old Kid Flash role in the future, rocking a particularly '90s jacket-and-goggles combo in the process. In regular continuity, meanwhile, a younger Iris also became Impulse - another previously-male identity - for a bit.
Alright, not a great example, but an example nevertheless. People tend to forget that Kelsey Leigh Kirkland was ever Captain Britain, perhaps because she was created by Chuck Austen. But it certainly didn't cause much of a fuss when she took over the identity from Brian Braddock (before later becoming Lionheart when Brian returned from the dead), even if that's largely because Americans don't care what happens to Captain Limey.
Of course, there's also Faiza Hussain, who was handed the mantle during the wiped-future-timeline of Age of Ultron. A female, Muslim Captain Britain? SOMEBODY CALL THE DAILY MAIL!
Ah, Stephanie Brown. Who doesn't love Stephanie Brown? Well, Dan Didio, obviously. But if you were a teenager reading Robin comics in the mid '90s, you probably either wanted to be Steph or you wanted her to be your girlfriend. Or both. So it was great when she finally got the chance to take on the Robin mantle herself, while Tim was off sulking somewhere. It showed a genuine evolution of the character that a criminal's daughter turned inexperienced vigilante could eventually earn the trust of Batman in this way. The fact that she was brutally tortured and murder a short while afterwards was a bit less great, obviously (and no, the fact that it was later retconned as a fake death still doesn't make it okay).
A good example of the female character arguably becoming more notable and well-remembered than the male one - perhaps because the costume, and the dichotomous nature of the duo, seemed to suit Dawn Granger better than it ever had Don Hall. Plus it lowered the possibility of rampantly homophobic jokes of the sort made by Frank Miller, who in The Dark Knight Strikes Again seemed to forget that Don and Hank were brothers.
One of the most Marvel-esque characters DC has ever published, district-attorney-turned-vigilante Kate Spencer didn't really have any connection to the assorted previous (and almost all entirely forgettable) incarnations of Manhunter aside from the name. Really, it was just a case of DC using the name to sell a new series that presumably wouldn't otherwise have got out of the gates. But it's a good job they did, because Marc Andreyko's moody crime stories were terrific.
Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel? Yeah, can't see that one ever going down well or anything.
So, there you go. Female characters take on identities previously held by men in comics all the time. And what happens? In most cases, we get really great stories and characters out of it. And in some cases, things simply go back to the way they were a little while afterwards anyway.
So if you're annoyed about the new Thor, you're either not really paying attention to how comics work, or you've been duped by Marvel's deliberate attempt at whipping up fervour or publicity, or both. And you don't want people to think you've been duped, do you? So stop it.
Besides, it could be worse. Changing the gender of a character is one thing, but it's even more annoying when a universe reset means that a really good version of a character gets scrubbed from the continuity and doesn't appear in any of the new comics. It's a good job that hasn't happened with, ooh, basically all (except Dove) of the DC-published women in this article... isn't it?