March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the third year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog.Today’s post in our last one of this series, and comes from Star Wars expert, Jeff of The Imperial Talker‘s 2021 #FFF post, re-posted here with permission.
Seeking a refuge for healing and peaceful contemplation, Jedi Knight Nomi Sunrider returns to the planet Ambria and the dwelling of Master Thon, her former Jedi Master. Traveling with Sunrider is her beloved 4-year-old daughter Vima and fellow Jedi Knight Sylvar who, like Nomi, seeks the peace and wisdom which Master Thon can offer. The joyful reunion with Master Thon is brief, however, disrupted by the sudden ambush of reptilian creatures swelling with the Dark Side of the Force and controlled by Sith assassins. Commanded to destroy Master Thon and his company, the Sith-controlled creatures surround the Jedi and launch their assault.
Found in the fourth issue of Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War, a Dark Horse Comics series published in the 1990s which details stories of the Jedi living thousands of years prior to A New Hope, the vicious attack by these dark side creatures was emblazoned in my mind as a ten-year-old Star Wars fan, the deadly battle masterfully captured in a single image. The muscular reptiles tower above the Jedi , mouths baring sharp teeth and yellow eyes manifesting the evil driving them. In the background, Oss Willum – a Jedi being mind-controlled by a nefarious Sith spirit – commands the attack from high ground while his accomplice Crado, an acolyte of Sith Lord Exar Kun, stands closer to the fray. At the edge of the battle the Jedi Sylvar slashes at a creature with her yellow lightsaber while closer to the center Master Thon grabs one of the reptiles by the neck, pushing it away with his own muscular arm.
It is Nomi Sunrider who truly stands out, though; she is the reason this image is so unforgettable. Resolve and grit etched on her face as she braces for an attack, Sunrider holds her right arm in front of her, lightsaber in a guard position, the blue blade extending across her body horizontally. In her left arm Nomi clutches her daughter Vima, the child clinging to her mother in fear of the reptilian attackers.
Today, the power on display in this image, what it conveys about Nomi Sunrider, is apparent to me in a way I could not fully appreciate as a young Star Wars fan. Back then, I was enamored by the battle itself, the action being my focus above and beyond any subtle metaphors a picture meant to convey. Yet, this image of Sunrider stuck with me, it captured my imagination in a way other moments in Star Wars comic books did not. Why that is I cannot say. The simple fact is that the image never left my memory, and as a result, I have always had a fondness for Nomi Sunrider. For that I am incredibly grateful because when my interest in Star Wars shifted away from the “Wars” as I got older, when I began to experience the deeper layers of characters and events, my understanding and appreciation for Nomi Sunrider fundamentally shifted.
Sunrider’s story in Tales of the Jedi is rich and complex, with moments of incredible joy and devastating heartache. Through it all one thing remains a constant: her love for Vima. As a young Star Wars fan I could not fully appreciate the power in this image, or Sunrider’s story more fully, because at that time I could only see Nomi Sunrider as a Jedi Knight. I was obsessed with the Jedi, trapped in the belief, like Luke Skywalker, that the Jedi were great because they were warriors. In a sense, the glow of Sunrider’s lightsaber in the image blinded me to the deeper and far more important meaning being conveyed. I could not see back then as I do now that that the brave determination embedded on Nomi Sunrider’s face and reflected in her defensive stance is not that of a Jedi alone. No, it is more significantly that of a mother protecting her frightened young child.
Nomi Sunrider is the very best of the Jedi Order in Tales of the Jedi, a living symbol of Light Side of the Force which the Order serves. But her devotion to the Light Side cannot and must never be disconnected from her devotion to her daughter. Nomi Sunrider’s fearless love for the Light Side of the Force is fundamentally grounded in her motherhood, in the unconditional love she has for Vima. And that is exactly what is reflected in this singular image.
Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s third year! Yay! The series runs for the month of March and along with myself feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Mike of My Comic Relief, and Green Onion of Green Onion Revival Project. Be sure to follow each of these blogs and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links:
March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the third year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog. Today’s post comes from Kalie of Just Dread-Full, a superb blog centered on the horror genre.
One thing worth noting about the horror genre is that it produces images that resist quick mental erasure. From the statuesque model who turns into a decrepit, decaying old woman in the infamous shower scene of The Shining to the bloody womb hanging limply outside the skin of Nola Carveth in The Brood, horror does nothing if not supply us with grotesque images of often monstrous women. Psycho’s Norma Bates, then, is no exception. In Hitchcock’s original film, Psycho, we see Norma not as a mommy so much as a stereotypical mummy; all that is left of her is a skeletal, eyeless frame and some tousled hair pulled back in a bun. We hear her character, and therefore understand her character, only through Marion Crane’s ears as the delusional Norman voices her from afar in the antiquated Victorian house on the hill outside Bates Motel. But Norma is a famous mummy, and a famous mommy, to be sure, one who lingers in the mind of the viewer long after the theater lights go on, and one who has lingered in the cultural imagination now for sixty-one years and counting. Significantly, Norma Bates didn’t get to speak for herself until 2013, when the hit TV show Bates Motel rescued and re-invented her character through Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of her as Norman’s mildly cooky but vivacious and loving mom. As a woman who navigates an excruciating past, a corrupt, drug-infested city, and a psychotic son with surprising sangfroid, Norma Bates in Bates Motel is who I choose to feature this year for the annual Fiction’s Fearless Females blogathon.
In celebration of Women’s History Month and for my entry in this year’s Fiction’s Fearless Females series, I am choosing Star Trek’s original fearless female – the one and only Lieutenant Nyota Uhura! This is the third year that Kathleen and I have participated in this series and joining us is Michael of My Comic Relief, Jesse of the newly revived Green Onion, Kalie of Just Dread-full, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Please give them a follow to catch their posts (all have great content outside of #FFF), or look out for them here, throughout the month.
My first entry in this series was the brilliant Captain Janeway of the Star Trek Voyager series and my second was the ever-vigilant Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies. For my third entry, I circled back to Star Trek and choose Uhura, for all strong female Star Trek characters owe a debt of gratitude to her. Beautiful, smart, ambitious, and an equal to the men – she is the original Star Trek role model. Even Uhura’s name has important meaning – Nyota means star in Lingala, a language from the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Uhura is the Swahili word for freedom.
Star Trek is my favorite fandom, as many of the posts on this blog revolve around the movies, television and web series that have been inspired by the original classic. The series was conceived by Gene Roddenberry to present an optimistic view of life in the future and show a diverse crew, thus actress Nichelle Nichols was cast as a 23rd-century Starfleet officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise and she served as a communications officer. The crew’s mission was “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Fluent in a myriad of languages, human and alien, not only was she head of the communications department but she was an excellent bridge officer, as she could additionally work the helm, navigation, and science stations as needed.
The show debuted in 1966 and was groundbreaking because of its disparate cast, and Uhura’s role as a professional Black woman was a rarity on television, as they were usually relegated to portraying characters with menial jobs. Now I am going to take a brief detour here and mention that IRL Nichelle Nichols was not only an actress, she was a singer and was hoping for some Broadway success, so she briefly considered leaving Star Trek to pursue other creative opportunities. She told creator and producer Roddenberry that she wanted to leave, but before she made her final decision she attended a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) luncheon and was introduced to Martin Luther King Jr. He wanted to meet her and express his admiration for her, as Star Trek was one the only shows he let his children watch, as Uhura was an example he held up to them, as what could be achieved in the future. Shocked and thrilled by his words, she stayed with the show, and the rest is history. For an exaggerated but hysterical reenactment of this incident, watch the Drunk History video – Nichelle Nichols Lives Boldly – at the end of this post!
Another pioneering moment in the Star Trek franchise was the first interracial kiss shown on US television between a Black woman and a white man that involved Uhura and Captain Kirk. Lore has it that producers were worried that the kiss would run up against Southern censors so they were supposed to film two versions – one with a kiss and one without. But Nichols and co-star William Shatner deliberately messed up the without-a-kiss scene, so that the kiss scene would have to be used. That indeed was a fearless move, for everyone involved knew that interracial relationships were taboo and in some places against the law at that time.
The Enterprise’s five-year mission proved to be only three, but Uhura’s story did not end there. A few years later in 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series gave the crew another year on the ship (and this animated series gave her some surprisingly good plotlines), and in 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered in the theatres. Uhura would play an integral part in the six theatre movies that spanned twelve years. While Kirk, Spock and Bones always got the lion’s share of character development; Uhura, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov were shown as moving up in rank and with key moments hinging on their assistance. In fact, Uhura continued to be an influential character, as she was shown as a mature woman who was lovely, capable, professional and didn’t need a man to fulfill her life. She put her career first, and the universe was better for it, as she is now ranked as a Commander (and Admiral in some non-canon books and movies) in Starfleet.
Star Trek presents an idealistic and Utopian future, with the Earth moving past its racial and cultural differences, and ready to explore space. Its opening line, “Space, the final frontier…” proved prophetic, as I must once again mention Uhura’s real-life counterpart Nichols, as she became a space ambassador for NASA from 1977-2015 and helped recruit diverse astronauts, including women and minorities such as Mae Jemison. Uhura and Nichols have merged into one incredible icon – who is fine, fierce, and fearless!
As I wrap up this post, I now pass the baton to Kalie who is planning to write about Norma Bates from the Bates Hotel (of Psycho fame). Bringing us home will be Jeff with a post about Nomi Sunrider of Star Wars Legends. Please check in weekly as this series unfolds.
Live Long and Prosper, my friends.
To catch the other amazing women in this series, check out:
March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the third year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog. Today’s post comes from Jesse of the Green Onion, reposted with permission.
Oh, it is good to be back in the blogging ring. Specifically, when it comes to collaborating with all the other amazing bloggers. And once more I am grateful to throw my words into the Fiction’s Fearless Females series.
Fiction’s Fearless Females (#FFF) is a cross-blog event that has been going strong for years now. Each year a collection of my favourite friends and bloggers come together to celebrate women in fiction.
This year’s line-up includes the usual suspects including posts coming throughout the month from Nancy at Graphic Novelty₂, Kalie at Just Dread-Full, and Jeff at The Imperial Talker. Thankfully, you won’t have to wait much longer. Plus, it gives you time to catch up on the masterful additions to #FFF already available.
Choosing a character for the #FFF series is harder than you might think. There are so many amazing women to explore throughout pop culture. When the #FFF first began, I was quick to write about Ripley from the Alien franchise. An easy choice I would easily make again. This year I wanted to find a character equally deserving to be in this collection of fantastic fictional females.
I gave this some deep thought. There are three criteria for a character to be added to this series. They have to be fictional – obviously. They have to be “fearless”, which can be taken in many ways, but we don’t need any one-note distressed damsels. And finally, they should celebrate femininity. While there are many characters that fall into these categories, for me, there was one that stood out in all three.
Lisa Marie Simpson.
The Simpsons has been on television since 1987, first appearing as shorts during The Tracy Ullman Show. We all know what happened next. As the show landed its own ongoing series in 1989, The Simpsons exploded becoming the most popular television program of the 90s. Redefining and dominating adult animation as a media. And has gone on to become the longest-running scripted television show in history, currently running a 32nd season and weeks away from premiering the 700th episode.
Beyond the small screen, Lisa Simpson has appeared in every form of merchandise there is from action figures to toothbrushes. The Simpsons Movie brought Lisa and her family to theatres in 2007. She has appeared in video games on nearly every console since the classic NES. And comic books galore, including her own self-titled Lisa Comics, which lasted one glorious issue with a parody of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
You cannot mention Lisa Simpson without mentioning Yeardley Smith, the beloved voice and advocate for all things Lisa. For which, Smith won the 1992 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice Performance as well as many other accolades. Three decades later, and Smith continues her role as well as being one of the biggest faces for the series appearing at conventions and panels year-in-and-year-out.
As far as fictional goes, Lisa Simpson fits the bill. It could even be argued that she is the most recognizable female character on the planet. In fact, she is one of just a handful of fictional women on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
When it comes to hitting the ‘fearless’ category, Lisa does not have the raw power of most of the other fictional females. We are talking about an eight-year-old girl here. However, I do not think that anyone could argue that Lisa Simpson could be defined as “fearless”.
Lisa Simpson started out as another childish character, getting into antics as much as her brother, Bart. However, her character began to shift early. She has become one of the most intelligent figures in all of Springfield and she is never afraid to show it. Lisa is now one of the strongest liberal voices in primetime television. And she stands for a wide range of causes.
Though she feels like an outcast from her town and family for her beliefs, Lisa is not afraid of progression. In fact, of all the characters in the show, Lisa has shown the most growth and stuck to her guns. In season seven, Lisa became a vegetarian and some years later she adapted to Buddhism.
When it comes to activism, Lisa is at the frontline. She is a feminist, often getting into disagreements with her mothers’ traditional guidance. Lisa Simpson is a figure of environmentalism, winning real-world awards for being a voice of the planet. She was even named as one of the animal-friendly TV characters of all-time by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
In a town that is at times meant to showcase America at its worst, Lisa is always the opposition. Bravely she will not allow anyone to get between her and what is right. Her left-wing ways have become legendary. Ted Cruz has referred to the Conservative Party as the “Party of Lisa Simpson”. In one particular Simpson’s future, Lisa even becomes POTUS, which was surely achieved through her strong voice and reasoning.
Still, if you want to talk about powers and abilities, Lisa has had a few. “Treehouse of Horrors X” even gave Lisa super strength, Clobber Girl, along with Stretch Dude became a formidable duo, and have made their own appearances in comics. In video games, Lisa can knock people around with the best of them. And it could be argued that her spiritual connection has granted her some powerful gifts throughout the years.
Lisa Simpson is as fearless as they come. For a second-grader, she shows bravery and courage whenever she sees injustice. Whether it is the mistreatment of snakes on an out-dated holiday or the ongoing battle with the local nuclear power plant, Lisa’s voice is heard.
Not only does Lisa Simpson ooze femininity, but she is also a leader in women’s rights and a role model for young girls everywhere.
It is easy to forget at times that Lisa is just an eight-year-old. But she is very much a little girl who loves ponies, her Malibu Stacy dolls, and believes that unicorns are real. She is sweet, nurturing, and gentle. But she is as flawed as anyone, being stubborn or righteous at times. Lisa is as real as an animated little girl can be.
But over three decades, Lisa has become a symbol for women everywhere. The feminist character has often spoken out about gender rights. Of course, while maintaining the strong voice that we just covered.
Additionally, Lisa has proven time and again that she is capable of anything her brother can do. Never treated as fragile or delicate, Lisa has played sports alongside Bart and the other boys. And though her brother often plays the muscle, as a duo the two of them have accomplished some fantastic things like solving crimes and saving their friends.
Most importantly, her strong morals have guided girls for three decades. Lisa is a symbol of what women are capable of while changing the way that girls are represented on television.
Lisa Simpson is one of the greatest fictional characters, absolutely fearless, and an amazing figure of femininity. An icon for speaking your truth and standing up against injustice, Lisa is a powerhouse.
March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the third year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog. Today’s post comes from Michael of My Comic Relief, who is a fine connoisseur of comics and lover of the Doctor Who franchise.
Happy International Women’s Day! In celebration of International Women’s Month, I’ve joined with some other bloggers to write pieces spotlighting some of our favorite female characters. Kathleen, of Graphic Novelty2, kicked off the festivities with her brilliant look at Kara Zor-El/Supergirl and, following me, we’ll have Green Onion, of Green Onion Revival Project; Nancy, of Graphic Novelty2; Kalie, of Just Dread-full; and Jeff, of The Imperial Talker. You can find all their posts here but you should check out their super sweet sites, too. Anyhoo (or AnyWHO, as the case may be (stop…don’t reward that (I’m sorry, I’m so sorry (you deserve better)))), this year when I thought of what “fearless” means, my mind turned to Martha Jones. Played by Freema Agyeman, she was the companion of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor in Series Three of Doctor Who. Martha did a great many things while travelling with the Doctor but, in her faith and her willingness to advocate for her own needs, she models the type of courage which could transform all of our lives if we, too, could be so fearless.
Guess who’s back, back again?! #FFF is back, tell a friend! This time, I’m kicking off our annual series about your favorite fictional ladies of the fearless variety 😉 Joining Nancy and I are Michael of My Comic Relief, Jesse of the newly revived Green Onion, Kalie of Just Dread-full, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Please give them a follow to catch their posts (all have great content outside of #FFF), or look out for them here, throughout the month.
I’ve gotta be honest. I was torn on the fictional lady I wanted to write about. Eventually I settled on Kara Zor-El, better known as Supergirl. My past #FictionsFearlessFemales posts have been Wonder Woman and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle). I couldn’t NOT follow DC’s “Big Three” format! If I hadn’t, it would have bothered me forevermore! Kept me up at night! No, dear readers, I couldn’t have that. Not to worry, for the other heroine I wanted to write about is already planned for next year’s post 😉
For simplicity’s sake, this post will focus solely on Kara. Supergirl’s character had many iterations before and after Kara was introduced in DC’s canon. Kara is the most well-known, and her likeness is the most used: if you think “Supergirl,” the blonde-haired, blue-eyed teenager in the short skirt that immediately comes to mind is indeed Kara. Even within Kara’s characterization, she has had many different origins, retcons, and even deaths throughout her lifetime, just like her cousin Clark Kent, AKA Kal-El of Krypton, AKA Superman. But, also like her cousin Clark, Kara as Supergirl endures as a symbol of hope.
Just as Clark is often billed as “The Last Son of Krypton,” so too is Kara billed “The Last Daughter of Krypton.” After multiple iterations of Supergirl were published as character tests to gauge fan reaction to a female Superman, Kara’s character first appeared in Action Comics #252 in May 1959. She leaps out of a ship, dressed in a costume very similar to Superman’s. When questioned, she says she is the daughter of Alura and Zor-El, Superman’s uncle, making them cousins. Her parents were residents of Argo City, which survived Krypton’s destruction by breaking off the planet whole. As the city drifted towards Earth’s solar system, it was hit by a meteor shower, which forced Alura and Zor-El to place the 15-year-old Kara in a rocket and point her to Earth to be reunited with her cousin (Source).
Later iterations of Kara deviate a little from this original story. For instance, the Superman/Batman run in 2004 (issue #8 published in May of that year kicked off this storyline, and the animated DC movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse adapted this story), Kara crashes to earth as a teenager from Krypton. She was in suspended animation while her ship got lost on the way to Earth. More on this story is below.
The 2016 Arrowverse Supergirl show likely took inspiration from this comic: it sees Kara being placed in a rocket on Krypton, not Argo City, with the intention of protecting and raising her baby cousin on Earth. Her ship was knocked off course and navigated the Phantom Zone for 24 years before finding its way to Earth, wherein Clark had all grown up and become Superman. Some stories have Kara raised by Superman, some by Jonathan and Martha Kent, most by the Danvers family (their first names have changed over the years).
In any case, many elements of Kara’s story remain the same. She is also a survivor of Krypton’s demise. She is Superman’s cousin. She is adopted by a human family and given an Earth childhood (well, teenager-hood in her case). She is Kryptonian like Clark, so Earth’s yellow sun interacts with her DNA in the same way, giving her all the same powers as Superman (Source). Some would argue that Kara is stronger than Clark – more on this later. Her origin is very similar to Clark’s in that she is a true American alien, an immigrant from another planet, a last daughter.
There is one difference that, in my mind, has the potential to make Supergirl more of an interesting character.
Kara is a teenager in nearly all iterations of her origin story. She is actually OLDER than Clark, at least she was and ought to be. Most stories use her birth on Argo City or her ship getting lost in the Phantom Zone to make her get stuck in time, so she is younger than Clark when she arrives on Earth. The fact remains that she REMEMBERS Krypton. She grew up there in nearly every iteration of her story. What Clark knows about Krypton, he learned from the data his parents left him. This is all well and good, but he can never truly remember the experience of living and growing up there, as Kara does. This means that their grief is different. Clark grieves the Krypton he never knew, and will never know: the idea of Krypton. Kara grieves the Krypton she did know, and all the people and places in it: the tangible things about Krypton that she will never experience again.
To put it another way: Clark learned about Krypton from books. Kara learned about Krypton by living there. Thus they have different experiences about their home planet, different ideals they took away, and different ways they are grieving its’ loss.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen DC using the age difference between Kara and Clark to great effect (then again, I am admittedly not as well-read on Supergirl as I should be). There is great potential for creators to explore Kara’s experiences of Krypton, her childhood there, and any survivor’s guilt or other such mental hurts she might be suffering from such a trauma. I believe more creators have addressed this in recent years, post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.
When Crisis was published in 1985, DC executives wanted Superman to truly be the last survivor of Krypton. That meant Kara had to go. Supergirl was killed during Crisis, in which she sacrificed herself to save Superman’s life. They took it one step further, however: when the universes were restored, no one remembered who Kara was (Source). Ouch. Talk about being fridged. Though different iterations of Supergirl (who were not Kryptonian) were introduced in the years between Crisis and Superman/Batman #8, the popularity of Kara’s character was such that DC relaxed their “Superman is Krypton’s sole survivor” rule (Source). Superman/Batman #8 brought Kara back as Clark’s Kryptonian cousin, and the teenaged last daughter of Krypton, for good (Source).
In last year’s FFF post about Barbara Gordon, I talked about Batgirl being derivative of her male counterpart Batman. Supergirl is, if you hadn’t guessed by this point, derivative of Superman. I would argue there are more similarities between Clark and Kara than there are Barbara and Bruce Wayne. Barbara puts on a cape and cowl, sure, but her methods of solving mysteries and fighting crime differ significantly enough from Batman to where her abilities don’t feel like a total copy and paste. As mentioned above, Kara has all of Clark’s powers. In order to differentiate them a bit, some argue that she is the stronger of the two. This has been attributed in-canon to Clark growing up needing to suppress his powers in order to seem normal, whereas Kara has no such inhibition (Source).
Kara might or might not be more powerful than Clark, but she is definitely more impulsive, moody, and stubborn. What else would you expect from a teenage girl? =P For all that, Kara has a kind heart. She genuinely wants to help people and is unsure if she is worthy of the Super-mantle after all her cousin has accomplished. To combat this, season 1 of the Arrowverse show didn’t even have Superman in it – he was mentioned from time to time, but didn’t make an appearance until season 2. The show wanted and needed her to stand as a hero in her own right, and she succeeded by stopping Myriad all on her own. It also had flashbacks to her life on Krypton, and addressed the sadness and anger she felt at being left behind. In the few episodes Kara appears in in the DCAU (Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series), she either stops crime all on her own or teams up with Batgirl. No one can say Kara can’t hold her own.
Outside of being Supergirl, Kara is just a teenager or young adult trying to do the right thing. She struggles with trying to be a normal human being even though she is decidedly not. In the Arrowverse show, she struggles to kick off her career and juggle a demanding boss, her family, her friends, and her love life, on top of saving the world. In that way, she is relatable, especially for teen and young adult readers. Every teenager feels like an alien. Kara IS LITERALLY an alien, and yet handles her adolescence, and all it’s ups and downs, with good cheer and an open mind. She is arguably more relatable than her big blue cousin for this reason. Most iterations of Clark are of his childhood or adulthood – not that messy, melodramatic in-between time (with the exception of the 2001 Smallville TV show). Kara fills that gap.
Kara also shows the importance of female friendship. She has historically been best friends with JSA member Stargirl. The DC Bombshells comics introduce them as adoptive sisters, originally from Russia, before being recruited into the American Bombshells. The Superman/Batman: Apocalypse movie (mentioned/linked above) shows Kara’s close relationship with Harbinger. And, of course, the Superman and Batman animated series (also linked above) also show Supergirl and Batgirl teaming up to fight crime. Both are teenagers in this iteration, who genuinely like and respect each other’s methods even if they are very different. It’s refreshing to see a teenage girl character form genuine relationships with other teenage girls, when a lot of the market is inundated with the catty and toxic “frenemies” trope. Impressionable girls need to see these kinds of friendships!
Kara Zor-El is not the only Supergirl DC’s tried to write, but she is by far the most recognizable and the most popular – for good reason. Not only does she make her cousin Superman more relatable, she is arguably more of a relatable character. She’s a real teenage alien who just wants to fit in and do the right thing, in spite of the very obvious thing that makes her not a normal teenage human. Historically, DC has tried to change and retcon her story many times, but Kara’s indomitable spirit and cheerfulness has never wavered throughout her history. Though I would love to see more done with her character due to her Kryptonian upbringing, Kara in my eyes is more than worthy of the S on her chest.
After all, it means hope, and that’s what she brings to everyone she meets.
March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the second year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we had six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and shared each entry of the series on our blog. Today is our last post in the series and comes from Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room who couldn’t just pick one fearless female, he chose five! His blog and YouTube channel centers on great toys, cartoons, movies, and comic books of the 70s, 80s and 90s. For a nostalgic treat, you must subscribe to his channel and look for excellently made videos on themes such as Good Games for Bad Gamers, Rob vs The Internet, sentiMENTAL and Days of Dorker Past.
To help celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month (March), I along with some of WordPress’s best bloggers are teaming up to shine a spotlight on some of our favorite fearless females from movies, comics, television, and beyond.
For my contribution to this celebration, I chose the subject of 80s cartoons (Shocker!!). Before I begin let me say that there are dozens of fearless, headstrong, and strong female characters in the world of 80s cartoons. Last year for Fiction’s Fearless Females celebration I did a video for Scarlett, G.I. Joe’s counterintelligence operative and first female character. Scarlett is a very popular character in the world of 80s cartoons, so this time I wanted to talk about some great characters that are lost to time (kinda). Continue reading “Fiction’s Fearless Females: Five Fearless Cartoon Females From The 80s”→
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Kathleen and I have joined up with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate for a second year in a row! A group of six of us are each picking a fictional fearless female to feature, and includes Michael of My Comic Relief, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Jeff of The Imperial Talker, and Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room. So far we have had posts celebrating Doctor Who, Batgirl, Dani from Midsommar and Queen Amidala- and this year I choose Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise. For clarity’s sake, I will be only writing about Linda Hamilton’s original version of Sarah in The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Terminator: Dark Fate. While other actresses have played Sarah, to me Linda Hamilton defines the character.
When we first meet Sarah Connor in the first film, she is a woman of her era (1984), ready for a good time and not too serious about her career. But destiny has another plan, as a cyborg terminator from the year 2029 has just arrived and is intent on killing her, as she is the future mother of John Connor, who will be a resistance leader in the future where robots who became sentient are trying to destroy all of humankind. As a countermeasure, John sends back a trusted soldier named Kyle from his time to save Sarah from the cyborg assassin. Luckily, Kyle finds Sarah before the Terminator does, but he naturally has a hard time convincing her of the truth. But as the Terminator begins leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake, Sarah is soon on the run with Kyle. Kyle and Sarah manage to have a night together, and you realize that Kyle is the father of John, which John must have known when he sent him back in time. Sadly, Kyle dies saving Sarah in the finale, but a flash-forward shows Sarah pregnant and ready to prepare for the coming apocalypse.
The second film is set ten years in the future and shows Sarah as a hardened warrior, who seemingly has stripped away all her previous compassion so she can train John for what is to come. But her dogged determination has resulted in a stunted mother-son relationship and is further exasperated when she is institutionalized and he is placed with a foster family. No one believes her vision of the future, much less her son, but when a new Terminator is sent back to kill John, Sarah escapes confinement to rejoin John and help him survive. Her off-the-grid living serves them well, and they fight back with a surprising helper, and Sarah is shown as still having a glimmer of mercy which is crucial to hold on to, even during the hardest of times. While her maternal side had to superseded by her need to keep John alive, she deeply loved him. (At the end of the post I included a scene that was cut from the theatrical release of Terminator 2 but included in the director’s cut. I adored the romance between Sarah and Kyle, and the first movie is my absolute favorite movie ever because of their chemistry. Watch it!)
Other Terminator movies establish John’s further growth as a leader, and Sarah’s eventual demise, but for the 2019 movie, they are glossed over (thank God, as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009) and the reboot Terminator Genisys (2015) were not good at all) and Sarah’s story moves straight from Judgement Day to Dark Fate. So, in the most recent movie, 25 years have transpired and Sarah remains a warrior, but within the first few minutes, we are shocked to discover that Sarah’s life took a hard and unexpected turn years ago. (Aside- I’m still not on board with what happened and am still salty, but I will resist spoiling it). Sarah is now poised to be a mentor for another woman whose fate is about to change in radical ways.
In the most recent movie, there is a reference to Sarah as viewing herself a martyr for the cause, as purely a vessel for a future man to take center stage, and she resents that her protegee Dani is being terrorized as she had been. Eventually, Sarah, who is battle-weary, heartbroken and angry, learns that Dani’s fate is different than her own, and it connects with what her beloved Kyle told her years ago, “The future is not set- there is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”
What I have appreciated about the role of Sarah over the years is her transformation from a damsel in distress victim in the first movie to a soldier willing to make hard choices. She sacrificed everything, including a loving relationship with her son, to prepare him and ultimately the rest of the human race for what she expected to happen. Indeed, she almost lost her humanity fighting against a future she wanted desperately to stop.
The recurring theme of No Fate weaves in and out of the Terminator franchise, and Sarah’s courage and empathy are the pillars for her willingness to continue fighting even when the future looks hopeless. And those two touchpoints are crucial in a time when we might feel all is lost, such as the difficult time we are facing today. Our very future looks uncertain, as we face down a pandemic that at best feels surreal, at worst possibly apocalyptic. How Sarah dealt with the hand she was given as her entire life crumbled away unexpectedly, can be a lesson to us all in how to fearlessly face our uncertain future. Not only did Sarah fight for her son, but she continued to be ever vigilant in helping others, for she never ever gave up.
May Sarah be an example to us- we alone can shape our fate, for it is not set, but we must be prepared to make it the best we can.
Next week join us as Rob from My Side of the Laundry Room brings the #FictionsFearlessFemales series to a close for the year!
March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the second year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog. Today’s post comes from Jeff of The Imperial Talker– who is an expert on all things Star Wars. His themed haikus are unmatched and deep love for the Star Wars franchise makes his blog a pleasure to read!
Standing behind the doors leading into the royal hanger, the Queen of Naboo, surrounded by her loyal handmaidens and advisers, must make a choice. One path will keep the teenage monarch on Naboo, with her people, risking capture and death at the hands of the invading Trade Federation. The alternative path will take her off-world, traveling with the two Jedi escorting her, running the Trade Federation blockade above her world in the hopes of reaching Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, to plead for help directly to the Senate.
“Either choice presents great danger, to us all,” the Queen says as she turns her head and looks at the handmaiden standing next to her.
“We are brave, your Highness,” the handmaiden responds, calmly speaking for herself and the other handmaidens.
To be brave is to be fearless, to stand firm and unflinching when confronting danger. Either path the Queen takes includes the risk of death, to herself and her retinue, but these handmaidens will face the risk with fearless poise standing side-by-side with their monarch.
But there is something else at play here, another layer hidden in the dialogue between a Queen and her assistant. In this scene from The Phantom Menace, the Queen we see is not the real Queen. No, she is actually a handmaiden, a loyal bodyguard charged with protecting the Queen by serving as a decoy dressed in royal attire. And the real Queen, Padmé Amidala, she is the handmaiden who has spoken.
This truth will not be revealed until later in the film when standing before the Gungan Boss Nass this handmaiden, Padmé, will confidently step forward, risking her own safety, and declare that she is Queen Amidala. Even though this revelation takes place late in the movie the gravity of the revelation reverberates through the entire film. It is possible then to add an interpretation to the statement “We are brave” by considering that Padmé, as Queen-in-disguise, is using the royal “We” when she speaks. And by viewing the term through this lens one can easily believe that Padmé Amidala is not only affirming the bravery of the handmaidens, but she is subtly but confidently affirming, as the true sovereign of the Naboo, that she is fearless.
Again and again we see Amidala model her bravery, in word and deed, simultaneously as handmaiden/Queen throughout The Phantom Menace. This is obvious when she reveals her identity to Boss Nass. Begging for help as she gets down on her knees – an act of pragmatic and diplomatic submission – Queen Amidala places herself and her party at the grace the Gungans. It pays off as her act of fearless humility convinces Boss Nass that Gungans and the Naboo can be friends and allies.
The Queen’s courage is also obvious when she and her retinue travel to the planet Tatooine.
Their vessel damaged as it ran the Trade Federation blockade surrounding Naboo, the two Jedi accompanying the royal entourage must identify a location that is free from Federation control to perform repairs. Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi chooses a locale: the desert planet Tatooine. The head of the Queen’s guard, Captain Panaka, inquires how the Jedi know their Federation enemy is not present on the world to which Qui-Gon Jinn answers, “It’s controlled by the Hutts.” “You can’t take her royal Highness there! The Hutts are gangsters,” Panaka declares, immediately raising his concerns. Never-the-less, Tatooine, a lawless world on the fringe of the galaxy, remains their destination.
Upon landing in the desert Qui-Gon Jinn, accompanied by the astromech droid R2-D2 and the Gungan Jar Jar Binks, will head towards Mos Espa to seek out the parts they need to repair the damaged vessel. But as they head off Captain Panaka will stop them. With him is the handmaiden Padmé who remains silent as Qui-Gon and Panaka speak:
“Her Highness commands you to take her handmaiden with you,” the Captain explains.
“No more commands from her Highness today, Captain,” Qui-Gon responds, “the spaceport is not going to be pleasant.”
“The Queen wishes it. She is curious about the planet,” Panaka retorts.
“This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon warns. “Stay close to me,” he tells the handmaiden as the group continues towards Mos Espa.
The exchange may not seem like much but it serves a clear purpose: to account for Padmé being part of the group heading into Mos Espa. Fair enough, but narratively this should not be necessary. If the handmaiden was part of the group to begin with we would think nothing of it. She would just be someone else who is seeking the parts for the damaged hyperdrive. So why bother briefly pausing the plot to account for the handmaiden tagging along with the party? Because Padmé is no ordinary handmaiden. Armed with the knowledge that “her Highness” IS the handmaiden, this exchange is no longer a narrative curiosity but a narrative necessity, a way of demonstrating, and reinforcing, that behind the veil of “handmaiden” resides a formidable monarch who is exercising her power and displaying her strengths.
Captain Panaka, as noted, expressed his reservation to the Jedi about taking “her royal Highness” to Hutt-controlled Tatooine. While we do not see it, we can presume he shared these reservations with the Queen herself. But now, in a surprising twist, the Captain has escorted the Queen, dressed as a commoner, into the hot desert to join the repair party. Why does he do this? Because “Her Highness” has issued a “command.” She has used her authority and given an order which the Captain is duty-bound to follow.
The command she has given – for a handmaiden to join the party – is a clever trick on the part of Amidala, a way to insert herself while maintaining anonymity. This does not come without risk. Captain Panaka is not wrong that Tatooine, being controlled by galactic gangsters, is a dangerous world. Qui-Gon Jinn acknowledges this as well, admitting that “the spaceport is not going be pleasant.” The Queen does not flinch. Instead, she is putting words into action, showing “We are brave” by placing herself in an unpredictable and potentially precarious situation.
Granted, this decision does seem ill-advised. Being fearless is laudable, but it is difficult to justify being reckless. “This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon explains, a clear indication that he does not want anyone else to be put in danger, even a young handmaiden (although, for the record, I believe he knows Padmé is the Queen but that is a conversation for another time). Were something to happen to Amidala in Mos Espa – a run in with the Hutts, for example – the consequences could imperil not only her safety but the safety of the planet Naboo. So how can one justify her decision to join?
For starters, we can think about whyshe is joining the group. As Captain Panaka explains, the Queen “wishes” for the handmaiden to go with Qui-Gon Jinn because “she is curious about the planet.” Thus, we are explicitly told that the Queen is inquisitive, a quality which demonstrates her desire to lead effectively, gaining new insights and perspectives which will inform future decisions. Stuck on Tatooine for the time being, Queen Amidala chooses to step out of the comfort of her royal yacht so she might gain firsthand knowledge about her galaxy. Notably, this is exactly what happens when she meets Anakin Skywalker, a precocious 9-year-old boy, and is shocked by the revelation that he is a slave. The Queen was clearly under the impression that the abominable institution did not exist. In turn, after meeting Anakin’s mother Shmi, the Amidala learns that the Republic’s anti-slavery laws do not extend to every planet. A sobering truth that challenges her understanding of the Galactic Republic’s legal and moral reach, this discovery foreshadows the truth she learns a short time later about the ineffectiveness of the Senate and the Supreme Chancellor.
Like her fearlessness, Amidala’s inquisitiveness is laudable. Yet, it does not entirely justify her decision to risk danger in the spaceport. Except, it does if we view it not solely as a pursuit for galactic knowledge. Rather, it should be interpreted as an example of the Queen’s strategic thinking. While Mos Espa is “not pleasant” and dangerous, given the situation it is also the safest place Queen Amidala can possibly be, a fact she must be aware of since she has given the command to “take her handmaiden.” Think of it like this: if the Trade Federation does track them down, discovering the royal yacht on the outskirts of Mos Espa, Amidala will not be there. Instead, the enemy will find the decoy Queen, along with the other handmaidens, the captain of the royal guard, and even a Jedi protector.
Meanwhile, Queen Amidala will be blending into the crowded streets of the unpleasant spaceport as the handmaiden Padmé. She will be fearlessly hiding in plain sight, as she does throughout The Phantom Menace, with no one the wiser.
Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s second year! Yay! The series runs for the month of March and along with myself will feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie ofJust Dread-full, Rob ofMy Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike ofMy Comic Relief. Be sure to follow each of these blogs (as if you don’t already!) and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series.
The Imperial Talker is Jeffrey Cagle. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Mercyhurst College and a Masters of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University. A lifelong fan of everything Star Wars, Jeffrey enjoys combining his academic interests with his love of the “galaxy far, far away.” When he is not lost in his imagination, he is spending time with his family or coaching volleyball.