The Real Life Tales of a Female Superhero

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 6, 2007

Writing at The Guardian about comic books’ representation of women, Ned Beaumann brings the following to our attention:

Two of Marvel’s most entertaining writers — Buffy creator Joss Whedon and Lost staff writer Brian K Vaughn — have casts full of believable women. (Try Whedon’s Astonishing X Men Volume 1: Gifted or Vaughn’s Runaways Volume 1: Pride and Joy.) But perhaps the greatest female superhero of recent years is Brian Michael Bendis’s Jessica Jones. Formerly a flying crime-fighter called Jewel, Jones hangs up her cape to become a private investigator. For more than 40 issues — now collected in a series of paperbacks starting with Alias Volume 1 — Bendis took us inside her head, creating one of the bravest, wittiest and most sensitive portraits of a female character that superhero comics have ever seen.

Plus, she had a realistic body and didn’t try to battle evil in a gold bikini and stiletto heels. But even that wasn’t what really shocked fans. Jessica Jones had a particular superpower that was so alien, so incomprehensible, so disturbing, that barely a single male comics writer had ever dared to depict it before. Wonder Woman or Storm may save the world twice a day, but they’d never admit this terrifying secret. That’s right: Jessica Jones actually had a menstrual cycle.

Plus: D.C. Comics has a new line of graphic novels aimed at teenage girls: The Plain Janes.

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