Jenny Barber is a writer of weird things, history geek, fanatical reader of short fiction and co-editor of both the recently published Wicked Women and The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, Volume 2. You can find her at www.jennybarber.co.uk and talk comics (and more) with her on Twitter at @jenqoe.
Heroines are all well and good but bad girls have all the fun. The world of comics is overflowing with wicked women - from the obvious supervillains and rebels to the women perceived to be wicked through their defiance of local social and cultural norms. These are women who use their superpowers to please themselves, gleefully indulge in their criminal tendencies and let no one dictate how they live their lives. So here’s a celebration of women who aim to misbehave!
There’s not many who misbehave more than Mystique. With a long and complicated history, this highly intelligent ass-kicking gender fluid bisexual shape-shifter has been an assassin, a spy, a political leader and freedom fighter, among a great many other professions. She’s passionate about mutant rights, and will do what the more mild mannered won’t to defend them. While she’s most recently been seen in the various X-Men movies, Brian K Vaughan & Sean McKeever’s Mystique series is an excellent focus on this versatile villain. Coerced into working as a secret agent for Professor X, Mystique combats a variety of foes, while trying to trick her way to freedom and avoid the government agency currently hunting her. She keeps both allies and enemies constantly guessing, comes up with some devious and wonderfully creative shape-shifts and is never too banged up to deliver some well aimed snark.
Elaine Lee and William Simpson’s Vamps provides five wicked women for the price of one graphic novel. These wild biker vampires have recently escaped their vampire master and are cheerfully getting into all manner of trouble on the road. They hustle and kill their way across the U.S. in pursuit of their next good meal - until their ex-master gets on their trail and they have to find a way to deal with him permanently. And just to complicate things, one of the vamps is on the hunt for her stolen child while being pursued by her psychic human twin sister who’s partnered up with a P.I. investigating the vampiric murders. Shenanigans, inevitably, ensue.
First seen in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Season of Mists, Mazikeen’s role as Lucifer’s trusted right hand gave her a significant part in Mike Carey’s Lucifer series. A daughter of Lilith, she’s a fearsome warrior who’s considered a rebel by the exiled Lilim - at least until they have need of her as their war leader. After helping to save the universe, she has an awesome moment at the gates of heaven where she demonstrates her utter contempt for the angels by making out with a waitress while flipping the snobbish bastards off. Or as she puts it 'Passion is blasphemyin this holy place. And I have a great need to blaspheme.'
At the beginning of Andy Diggle’s Losers, Aisha is a CIA asset with a reputation for being vicious. Raised in a war zone, she started killing at a young age, and as the series progresses she’s revealed as a double agent with her own agenda, who will fight hard and nasty to achieve her aims. She’s fiercely protective of those she considers friends and will maim or kill any who threaten their safety. She’s also a total badass. Given overwhelming odds and a vast amount of heavily armed men opposing her, she’ll stand fearless and do significant damage. While her fate at the end of the run is left teasingly unclear, not even her ex-comrades believe she couldn’t fight her way out of it. But then, wicked women have a habit of surviving anything that gets thrown at them.
Which brings us to our final wicked woman, and while there were many contenders, I’m sticking with one of the classics -
While Catwoman’s origin can get a bit murky given 75 years of stories, her unashamed enjoyment of a well-planned heist and a sparkly prize is one of her defining characteristics. Despite being pulled to a life on the straight and narrow on several occasions, the allure of something shiny always brings her back. Not that she’ll keep all the proceeds for herself, she’s been known to give her spoils away and use her skills to provide a little help from the shadows, but all charity aside, what is not to love about a kick ass cat burglar.
Your turn! Who are your favorite wicked women of comic books?