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Why Marvel NOW! Is Great For Female Characters

We explore Marvel's latest line-up of female centric titles and beg the question, why now?

If you haven't noticed, there are some big changes happening at Marvel thanks to Marvel NOW! The new initiative is introducing new ideas, new creators and new characters to different teams, allowing the publisher to shuffle things around and try some new stuff -- stir the pot, if you will. However, that's not the only thing that's going to be seeing some changes. Marvel NOW! will not only allow the shuffling of creative teams from one book to another seamlessly; it will also allow the company to address a particular issue that has bothered many (myself included) about the publisher for a very long time -- the lack of female centric comics at Marvel.

If you were to compare Marvel's line of books to DC's line of books, say, six or seven months ago you would likely notice the lack titles whose focus was on the adventures of female characters. With the exception of team books, Marvel ladies didn't really have their own ongoing series, and the ones that did would almost definitely see cancellations. Recently, for example, X-23 was given "the axe" due to sales (it wasn't even Marvel's lowest selling book at the time), and before that books like MS. MARVEL (which saw to issue #50 with the same writer, Brian Reed) was canceled. Series featuring strong, female superheroes (of which Marvel has a plethora of), were lacking. Did the publisher think these books just wouldn't sell?

== TEASER ==

Last week Marvel announced that this coming February they would release a new series titled THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS, written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by artist Will Sliney. The new series would be led by Valkyrie and Misty Knight, two characters who are very different, but ban together to face a common enemy and to establish a new team of super-heroines. Think of this as Marvel's solution to DC's BIRDS OF PREY series -- a team of very different female heroes from all walks of life. This announcement got me thinking, why now? According to the Marvel Press release, writer Cullen Bunn stated that he didn't develop this as an opportunity to tell a story with an all female team, but to "tell some really cool stories, some things that [he thought] would be exciting." I think it would be rather naive to think that this idea was the product of a desire to merely "tell some good stories." While the timing to tell "new and exciting stories," may have been a factor, I do think that Marvel may have gone into this thinking of how to address the fact that they really didn't have a lot of titles focusing on the adventures of their female characters. Marvel NOW! gives the publisher the opportunity to shuffle characters and creators around, launch new titles and test out some theories that could potentially answer the question of whether or not the mainstream comics market wants to see more female-centric books.

THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS isn't the only title at Marvel that will focus on female characters. This past summer Marvel had announced that Red She-Hulk would be taking a more prominent position in their universe, and she has since taken over HULK starting with issue #58 (issue #59 is out this Wednesday). And while we are seeing a different character play the part, a lot of the tone and the amount of butt kicking has remained the same. Basically, there's not much of a difference between HULK and RED SHE-HULK save for the characters' respective genders.

Marvel also re-launched CAPTAIN MARVEL, taking Carol Danvers' character and giving her her own title where we not only see an exploration of her character's identity, but also how she fits into the universe and deals with the new Captain Marvel mantle. In addition, Sif will be taking center stage starting with JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #646 where the character will take over the book for Loki (his character is being moved to Young Avengers). The four books mentioned have a few things in common. Aside from being titles that focus on the adventures of female characters, the titles to three of the four books mentioned are not "gender specific." Meaning that if you went to the comic shop and didn't know what CAPTAIN MARVEL was all about, would you assume it was a female centric title? Or perhaps you liked the cover to JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, but were unfamiliar with the comic, there's no way of knowing it's a comic about Sif and her adventures. Note, I am not criticizing, I am merely making an observation; one that I think will prove to be an interesting experiment. If the title of the comic doesn't indicate the gender of the character inside, will the sales be better? It is definitely something to think about and something to observe in the coming months.

This is great news for comics, for Marvel and for readers. By giving these female characters more prominent roles and responsibilities in their universe, and allowing them their own ongoing titles, Marvel is changing things. The publisher is not only just exploring new characters and developing them, they are also targeting a broader audience.

What do you think of these changes and these new books? What books are you most looking forward to? Do you think these changes are representative of something bigger, or, as Cullen Bunn said, just a means to tell "a good and interesting story"?

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Posted by ssejllenrad
Posted by Smart_Dork_Dude

I like this idea. I don't exactly care for Betty as She-Rulk, I hope this new series will change my thoughts though since I always thought Betty should have a bigger role in Hulk stories and she just hasn't done much as She-Rulk to get me to like her as the character. Personally I hope they give her a better codename.

Posted by sj_esposito

I think you're completely right; however, I hope what Bunn said will prove to be true. I don't see any reason why creators can't tell cool and interesting stories with female characters, save for the trivial reasons discussed so often. I think the best way to do that is to stop treating female characters like they're some special subset of comicdom, and just let writers who have a story to tell jump on a book and do it. This is not to say that it's not worthy of special attention by us readers when a female character takes a leading role, but I don't think editorial mandate is necessarily the way the Big Two should go about expanding the breadth of its line--we've seen how well that's worked out over at DC.

It's very clever of you to have noticed the titling of these now female-centric books, though! I hadn't thought of that at all. Very cool article.

Posted by Duo_forbidden

Man, Babs....why you have to remind me that X-23 was canceled? Those wounds haven't healed yet....

But I am enjoying Captain Marvel.

Posted by Rumble Man

Its about time we have badass women

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I wish they would have focused the book on the real She Hulk instead of this red version

Posted by Blood1991

@Jonny_Anonymous said:

I wish they would have focused the book on the real She Hulk instead of this red version

Truth

Also let's not forget Future Foundation and Uncanny X-Force are going to be majority female.

Posted by fodigg

I've long lamented Marvel's lack of a "leading lady" figure despite having so many strong contenders. Too many distaff counterparts. Too many non-powered damsels. Too many "team character not solo character". Nice to see they're stepping forward and pushing these excellent characters, especially the ones that are unique, like Misty Knight, and giving the "lead mantle" to the gender-swap characters like Danvers. I know that bothers some people (change always does) but I think it's best for the characters.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@Blood1991 said:

@Jonny_Anonymous said:

I wish they would have focused the book on the real She Hulk instead of this red version

Truth

Also let's not forget Future Foundation and Uncanny X-Force are going to be majority female.

Also X-Men

Posted by jorgeareizaga
BRING BAKC JEAN GREY!!!!
Posted by Blood1991

@Jonny_Anonymous: X-Men is being broken up V_V Storm and Pixie are going to stay on for awhile, but Psylocke, Colossus and Domino are leaving and Chamber and some others are being added on.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@Blood1991 said:

@Jonny_Anonymous: X-Men is being broken up V_V Storm and Pixie are going to stay on for awhile, but Psylocke, Colossus and Domino are leaving and Chamber and some others are being added on.

Oh well, do you know else will be on the team?

Posted by doordoor123

then again, Marvel is TERRIBLE for female characters. If they really want to succeed, they need to leave a male-dominated universe. Where every female character is an extension of a male counterpart.

Posted by Blood1991

@Jonny_Anonymous: No, not sure if the entire team has been announced yet.

Posted by WWAJfan

@ssejllenrad: X)

Posted by x_29

By looking at the title, I knew Babs wrote this. Its great to see female characters in the spotlight with their own books. However, Captain Marvel and Red She-Hulk have been kinda lackluster. Also, we have not read any of the new upcoming female books nor have we gotten a closer look at its portrayal of the female protagonists and how they are written, so i would not say just yet that Marvel Now is great for female readers.

Posted by Owie

I hadn't really been thinking about it all together, but it does seem like they're making a concerted push.  Good luck to them.
 
On a semi-unrelated note, I think it's interesting that so many of their titles can now feature a revolving set of characters, like the Hulk and Journey into Mystery, and not be pinned down to just one.  Sort of like the old school days of the old Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales, Marvel Premiere, etc.

Online
Posted by sagejonathan

I am very excited for Journey into Mystery. I really like this new direction.

Posted by frozenedge

Not really liking how Betty's Red She-Hulk. Just seems like another attempt to make her more compatible with Bruce (if they even still have a relationship). Maybe her new comic will help me get used to her. Glad Valkyrie's got another comic and Sif really surprised me.

Posted by Mrfuzzynutz

I am overly pumped about the idea of The Fearless Defenders, even though the last Defenders book left me wishing for a better effort, ( it felt like another Avengers book)

I think this Ladies First movement was a direct answer to DC dropping the ball with their relaunch, the powers that be kind of conceded that they really couldn't compute with Amazons, Super Jail Bail Aliens ,Bat Babes and playful psychotic multi colored femme fatales with the Worlds Greatest MILF, a 4th Wall Bustiing Gammazon and a host of feline themed b-listers

But since DC left the door open, Marvel decided "NOW" was the time to give their ladies some of the spotlight while they can.

That is just my personal view on the reasons "WHY" But ultimately I don't care, because anything that allows Valkyrie, Lady Sif, Misty Knight, 2 She-Hulks, Medusa, AND a young Jean Grey each month is not a bad thing at all!

Posted by bsmith1190

If this can bring X-23 back then I'm all the more pumped for Marvel NOW

Posted by feebadger

Am really looking forward to catching up with all these series (although that Journey Into Mystery cover is AWFUL)

Posted by InnerVenom123

Should have just titled Defenders as The Fearless.

No one ever buys Defenders books.

Edited by FoxxFireArt

It's always confused me why Marvel has always been so tone deaf when it came to creating a title for strong women characters and supporting it. Just look at how Sara cites that X-23 wasn't the lowest selling title, but it was canceled due to "low sales".

I don't see why Marvel needs such an elaborate branding just to shuffle up the creative teams or characters. That's the publisher's prerogative to do at any time. What of a creative team that's doing a good job where they are? Sure, there is a lot of potential for things to go well for many characters, but it's a two way street. I'm pretty sure a lot of people were hopeful that New 52 would be good for female characters. Look at it now.

  • Batgirl is back to where she started and is no longer the founder of the team she created.
  • Catwoman is no longer a self created woman, but was revived by alley cats.
  • Lois Lane doesn't seem to care that the news program she's in charge of is just tabloid.
  • Power Girl can't seem to keep her clothes on despite she's wearing more.
  • Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain are no where to be seen.
Gold Digger #81

Sara does bring up an excellent point in the title of the CAPTAIN MARVEL book. Just becasue the lead is a woman there is no need to have to title it MS. MARVEL. It will be an interesting experiment. I just have to wonder about an audience that will be so effected by something as superficial a gender ambiguous title.

Fred Perry's GOLD DIGGER comic has a primarily female cast. I guess this title is sort of up to interpretation if it's reflective of any gender. The name comes from the fact that the lead Gina Diggers is an archeologist. Still, it's an amazing comic written, drawn, and colored by one man, and it's over 140 issues (plus the 50 issues in the original volume).

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

@ssejllenrad said:

Posted by DJ1107

Boy Marvel sure came along way from how they use to treat they're female Superheroes. Back in the day we had Ms. Marvel getting impreginated by a demon, Jean Grey dying every 5 years, Husbands being assholes (Scott to Madalyne, & Reed to Sue (during the whole Malice thing), Being drawn by Greg Land during X-men (yeah he's on Iron man what eo you want from me.), Just about every X-female being treated like garbage, That infamous HFH tie-in of WWH cover, Now all of a sudden they're getting ongoings & are wearing less revealing outfits (except Elektra)

Posted by evilvegeta74

I think Rogue is a good fit for this group, but it's not likely. This title will excel, power to the ladies.

Posted by sethysquare

@FoxxFireArt said:

It's always confused me why Marvel has always been so tone deaf when it came to creating a title for strong women characters and supporting it. Just look at how Sara cites that X-23 wasn't the lowest selling title, but it was canceled due to "low sales".

I don't see why Marvel needs such an elaborate branding just to shuffle up the creative teams or characters. That's the publisher's prerogative to do at any time. What of a creative team that's doing a good job where they are? Sure, there is a lot of potential for things to go well for many characters, but it's a two way street. I'm pretty sure a lot of people were hopeful that New 52 would be good for female characters. Look at it now.

  • Batgirl is back to where she started and is no longer the founder of the team she created.
  • Catwoman is no longer a self created woman, but was revived by alley cats.
  • Lois Lane doesn't seem to care that the news program she's in charge of is just tabloid.
  • Power Girl can't seem to keep her clothes on despite she's wearing more.
  • Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain are no where to be seen.
Gold Digger #81

Sara does being up an excellent point in the title of the CAPTAIN MARVEL book. Just becasue the lead is a woman there is no need to have to title is MS. MARVEL. It will be an interesting experiment. I just have to wonder about an audience that will be so effected by something as superficial a gender ambiguous title.

Fred Perry's GOLD DIGGER comic has a primarily female cast. I guess this title is sort of up to interpretation if it's reflective of any gender. The name comes from the fact that the lead Gina Diggers is an archeologist. Still, it's an amazing comic written, drawn, and colored by one man, and it's over 140 issues (plus the 50 issues in the original volume).

this is the most ridiculous posts ive seen.

dc has

wonder woman - top 50 & critically acclaimed

batwoman - top 50 & critically acclaimed

batgirl - top 50

sword of socery - great book and critically acclaimed

burds of prey - hugely critically acclaimed book.

catwoman - top 50 and a solid book.

upcoming katana.

meanwhile captain marvel is getting cancelled soon they brought out several books with female marvel characters that will definitely get cancelled within a year. whats the point.

Posted by Decept-O

Just wonderful on so many levels this is happening.

Edited by mitchelmurphy

Lady Sif could be awesome!

There is no reason X-23 shouldn't have a bad ass series. Maybe they should just go with Laura Kinney instead, maybe her name is too generic and unappealing to draw new readers.

Spider-Woman is still being wasted away in the avengers. Yeah it was a feel good moment when the avengers came and got her and "oh someone does care about me" blah blah blah, now it's time for her to be a little nuts again and kick some ass. Continue Spider-Woman even if we can't have Maleev on it.

Unfortunately I've always thought Marvel trying to be a little more tasteful with their female characters than DC is what hurts their sales. I hope they never have to go the way of New 52 Catwoman to pick up male readers...

Posted by cdeoleo

I havent been reading Captain Marvel. Is it good because I would like get into it if it is.

Posted by Loki2u

I did a research project on this subject for my Gender Studies class 2 months ago!

Its about time Marvel!

Posted by Turkeysammich

Having both strong male and female characters featured prominently strengthens the entire Marvel U. In the real world, there are more men than women. Comics should correlate to that and have at least as many strong female leads as male ones. It makes everything seem slightly more plausible. I think readers, both male and female, would respect that.

There are more different personalities between the various female characters as well. If the only time readers were exposed to Carol Danvers, Betty Ross, Vakyrie, etc was in books like Avengers where they were just in the background punching stuff, those characters would not be liked. Having stories where writers can create nuance gives each character meaning and gives the reader understanding into how and why a character acts and reacts the way they do.

X-23 is probably my favorite female character comic. X-23 was Wolverine's clone, in more ways than one. Yes, she shared similar genetics to Wolverine, but her back story was almost the same too. She was experimented on and tortured by a secret government agency. She had a tormentor(Kimura is her Sabretooth). She started to evolve a bit during New X-Men, but it was ultimately subverted by making her into a killing machine again in X-Force.

However, when Marjorie Liu wrote X-23, she evolved Laura into a full character. She wasn't a monster bred in a lab to kill, but a very deeply damaged young woman who was trying to find her place in the world. She had all these bad things happen to her in her life which she obviously had emotional issues from; we see this in her self mutilation that Gambit quickly attempts to halt. From there, the series goes as Laura slowly finds self-worth, friendship, and trust; all things that made her feel like she didn't have a soul in the beginning.

Everyone benefits from having characters and stories like this. Yes, the Avengers fighting the X-Men looks pretty on paper, but it doesn't really pull the reader into the story. The only way to get people to buy comics is if they really enjoy the stories and care about the characters. There is no reason female characters can't or shouldn't have the loyalty of characters like Batman or Wolverine, they just need to be given a fair chance.

Posted by Cafeterialoca

If you're interested in Fearless Defenders, Print this and hand it into your Comic book shop! A pre-order is the best thing to ensure that the book sells well (and this book is my dream book!)

Posted by Vincie_Pooh

I like where there taking Red She-Hulk

Online
Posted by grenade728

@cdeoleo: I have been enjoying it so far, so I think it is worth a shot.

Posted by TerryBogard2014

they cancelled ms marvel once and cancelled x-23 so I really don't even give a $%^* anymore.I can so see them going into axe/back peddle mode at some point so ill just enjoy red she hulk before they eventually go back to male rulk

Posted by Bobzenub

2012 was not a very good year for Marvel so far regarding female leads compared to DC outside of Captain Marvel. I wish success both for Fearless Defenders and the JIM-Sif - latter has a lot to live up to.

Posted by sora_thekey

I actually didn't think about the non-gender specific titles. I guess not a lot of people would like to buy a comic titled Lady Sif or She-Avengers/Defenders.

Moderator
Posted by LiamGrey91

The films bought ass, the comics are bringing sass.

Posted by War Killer

Call me stubborn, but I still refuse to read Captain Marvel until they return Carol back to her Ms. Marvel title. They can keep the costume (which I actually like) but that name was more than her identity, it was a title that exclaimed that while yes she is a woman, she still can stand next to the likes of heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man; if Marvel is really trying to push more female centered comics, then MS. MARVEL should be leading the charge.

Posted by No_Name_

@War Killer said:

Call me stubborn, but I still refuse to read Captain Marvel until they return Carol back to her Ms. Marvel title. They can keep the costume (which I actually like) but that name was more than her identity, it was a title that exclaimed that while yes she is a woman, she still can stand next to the likes of heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man; if Marvel is really trying to push more female centered comics, then MS. MARVEL should be leading the charge.

I completely disagree. The fact that she is CAPTAIN MARVEL indicates not only can she too, a woman, become a CAPTAIN, but that her gender isn't something she uses to define herself. Sure she is a lady, but she's a CAPTAIN FIRST; and in a man's world, that's saying something.

Too bad too, you're missing out on an exceptional series because of one word. "Ms."

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Yes, Marvel NOW IS indeed very female character friendly right now. For my part I'm only getting Red She-Hulk monthly on behalf of now and can say that I'm quite impressed so far with how Parker is handling it. Just like you mentioned, its not any different from when Thunderbolt was at the helm of the comic. In my opinion it should have just been renumbered to issue #1 and be a wholly separate series from Hulk, but that's besides the point. Yes, in conclusion female characters have a good atmosphere in Marvel NOW currently.

Edited by War Killer
@Babs said:

@War Killer said:

Call me stubborn, but I still refuse to read Captain Marvel until they return Carol back to her Ms. Marvel title. They can keep the costume (which I actually like) but that name was more than her identity, it was a title that exclaimed that while yes she is a woman, she still can stand next to the likes of heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man; if Marvel is really trying to push more female centered comics, then MS. MARVEL should be leading the charge.

I completely disagree. The fact that she is CAPTAIN MARVEL indicates not only can she too, a woman, become a CAPTAIN, but that her gender isn't something she uses to define herself. Sure she is a lady, but she's a CAPTAIN FIRST; and in a man's world, that's saying something.

Too bad too, you're missing out on an exceptional series because of one word. "Ms."

I see what you're saying, I just feel that it's a bit odd that Marvel believes that the only way she can be successful is by taking away the name that defined her as a female comic book character and instead felt that she could only sell comics by giving her not just a new name, but a name which originally belonged to a MALE superhero first.
 
I figured that if Marvel really wanted to push their female characters, like many fans want them too, then instead of hiding them behind titles that previously belonged to male characters, wouldn't it make more sense to push a her original title, one that many fans already know, one that tells readers right off the bat that yes this is a female character, who is able to stand next to male heroes like Iron Man and Spider-Man, but yet isn't afraid to be called "Ms."?
 
I just really don't see what was wrong with the title of Ms. Marvel? I liked it and thought that it made her character stand out much more, not just as a superhero, but as a strong, independent woman; one which many female readers could look to as a great role model who embraces the fact that she's a woman and isn't ashamed of it.
Posted by Miss_Garrick

My sister never reads comics, and SHE's noticed Marvel's hang up about not having enough female heroes have their own comic. Which is a bummer because, to me, Marvel has a larger amount of cool superheroines than DC.

I love the idea of Valkyrie and Misty Knight teaming up, but this is Marvel. They're going to screw it up somehow.

Posted by BoyWander

Meh. I don't really care about genders. I don't think it should matter nor should it be a big deal. "Cullen Bunn stated that he didn't develop this as an opportunity to tell a story with an all female team, but to 'tell some really cool stories, some things that [he thought] would be exciting.'" That's what I want to see. Exciting and fun stories. If this is better told through women then by all means, go ahead, but I don't think this is that big of a deal.

I for one don't want to pick up the Captain Marvel title, because the art is ugly. Like when she was on the cover of Avenging Spider-man, she looked good. But the art for her own book… good grief. Well whatever. That's my take on this. Doesn't really do anything for me, but yay for the ladies who finally get their books. Let's hope they do well.

Posted by charlieboy

I really like the Captain Marvel book and will probably will try out the Defenders book. I prefer the original She-Hulk so probably won't pick up that book. And I am not a fan of Sif. Dazzler is pretty prominent in X-treme X-men and is being portrayed as a powerful heroine. Rogue has been awesome for quite awhile now and I hope the books she appears in continue to treat her as the heroine that she has become.

Posted by frogoat

Spider-Girl, please! Make Mine Mayday!

Posted by CellphoneGirl

Finally Marvel.

Posted by Rabbitearsblog

This is great news! I have noticed over the years that Marvel had treated their female characters very poorly, but maybe this would be a great start to having more prominent females in the comics and I hope that Marvel continues going in this direction for the female characters.  I really wish that there was an X-Men series that has an all female team (even though Uncanny X-Force would have a prominent female team).

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