Q&A #49 Who or what is your favorite comic book alien, or alien race?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

Who or what is your favorite comic book alien, or alien race?



Anika

Well, Hawkgirl, but I’ve mentioned her before so I’ll bring up another favorite: Starfire, Princess Kori’andr of Tamaran. She really deserves her own post because at first glance, Starfire comes off as so over the top you are not certain she isn’t a parody. And I don’t just mean her figure and lack of clothing, or her overt sexuality — her plot lines over the years have been some of the most melodramatic stories out there and we’re talking comics here. But Kory is also one of the strongest and sweetest heroines there are and it is not even a contradiction. It’s just Kory.

And then there’s her animated counterpart. Teen Titans‘ Starfire is quite simply adorable. She’s everything great about the comic original without any of the more controversial bits. In my nearly favorite episode How Long is Forever?, Starfire is accidentally flung 20 years into her future. There she finds a much sadder and darker world and a team that has fallen apart. Most disturbingly, her Robin has grown up into the bitter and wholly emo Nightwing. All of it is because she disappeared, and having finally reappeared, she is the one able to return order. That is the magic of Starfire. She is the Titans’ sunshine and the glue that holds them together.


Caroline

It’s not exactly a secret that I love the Starjammers. This group of space pirates/freedom fighters, often featured in Uncanny X-Men, may not technically count as a group of aliens. They’ve traditionally been led by Terran emigres: Christopher “Corsair” Summers, later succeeded by his son Alex aka Havok. But it’s reasonable to assume that when he was fresh off of Earth, Chris Summers wouldn’t have known where to point a blaster if not for his fellow (and distinctly extraterrestrial) ‘Jammers: the wise-cracking lizard-like Ch’od, the Cyborg Raza, and of course the cat-skunk-lady Hepzibah, shown below in her night job as a booth babe working gun shows for furries.

A few things to add about Hepzibah: (1) Her name isn’t actually Hepzibah, but Chris Summers could not pronounce her name in her own tongue and, demonstrating the sensitivity for which his name is a byword, called her after the Summers family cat. (2) Before Corsair’s death Hepzibah was, for all intents and purposes, Cyclops and Havok’s stepmother. (3) Some people occasionally wonder why the Summers boys seem to have issues. (4) I really never wonder that.



Jennifer

Dr. Puppykicker at The ISS once perceptively pointed out that “Uncanny X-Men is about black people and gays who are straight and white, but have superpowers.” That’s a sad fact that has frequently been true of supernatural characters — whatever alienation and discrimination the characters are made to face in an attempt to tap into the power of metaphor, they tend to be members of what in the real world is a privileged majority. Sci-fi characters can represent non-white, non-straight, and non-Christian people — as long as they aren’t actually any of those things.

Luckily, comic book diversity has improved a lot in recent years. And that’s why my two favorite Marvel aliens — I couldn’t choose! — are the Runaways’ Karolina Dean, a Majesdanian, and Young Avenger Teddy Altman, a Kree-Skrull hybrid. These two characters are both members of a multicultural teenage superhero team. They’re both aliens. And they’re also both gay. So when, upon discovering their alien heritage, they have to confront the realization that they’re not who they thought they were, and that they have to accept a truth about themselves that they’ve never been able to admit before, it’s not just a metaphor — it’s a reflection of the real-world issues these characters would also face. I really appreciate the effort at diversity inherent in their creation — and it helps that they’re both fantastic, well-rounded characters in their own right.



Sigrid

My favorite alien? Easy. Phoenix.

Whether it’s possessing Jean, Rachel, Emma, or someone new, the Phoenix is my favorite alien. It’s alien. Its goals and hungers are not on a human scale. Watching its human bearers struggle with its needs is always fascinating to me.


Who or what is your favorite comic book alien, or alien race?

  • Anika

    I can get behind all our answers, guys! And @Caroline — have I ever mentioned that growing up I had a cat named Hepzibah? I’m secretly a Summers!

  • sigrid

    That is an awesome picture of Hepzibah.

  • @Anika Not Hawkgirl? *surprised*

    My answer is also Starfire. Kory = awesome. (Saturn Girl is a close second. Well, not exactly close, because I love Kory a lot, but I also <3 Imra)

  • Anika

    @Margot Hey! I said Hawkgirl first. Because yes, she is my Most Favorite Alien in Comics …and possibly everywhere, the only real contenders being Dax or Spock (does Anakin count as an alien?). Anyway, I LOVE HAWKGIRL!!

    But, see, you knew that so I wanted to branch a little.

  • … alternately, now that there are Farscape comics, can I answer all of the Farscape aliens? Because I love that show and those comics a whole lot. (Chianna + Kory would be the best team-up ever, y/y?)

  • “(1) Her name isn’t actually Hepzibah, but Chris Summers could not pronounce her name in her own tongue and, demonstrating the sensitivity for which his name is a byword, called her after the Summers family cat. (2) Before Corsair’s death Hepzibah was, for all intents and purposes, Cyclops and Havok’s stepmother. (3) Some people occasionally wonder why the Summers boys seem to have issues. (4) I really never wonder that.”
    — HA! That’s pretty damn perfect right there.

    My favourite alien is Clark Kent AKA Kal-el AKA Superman. I grew up with Bryne’s Krypton– so coldly scientific and xenophobic that they didn’t even go out of their homes to meet people. They just stayed in their homes all their lives and, uh, talked through monitors, uh… *cough*

    Anyway, I also grew up with “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” As wonderful as Chris Reeve’s Superman was, you still got the impression that Clark Kent was more of a disguise than Superman. Although the comics had been changing Clark’s fun personality disorder for a few years, that show was the first time in my recollection that he said, “Clark Kent is who I am; Superman is what I do.”

    That made me utterly fall in love. His chracterisation such a perfect demonstration of nature vs nurture. How does someone genegineered to be a dystopic Vulcan become the poster boy for all that is sweet, huggable and caring? Also, explaining the many decades of contradictory writing makes for great meta on Kryptonian physiology & sociology vs Terran.

    Of course, he’s not the Last Son of Krypton any more. There’s Power Girl (hee!), Supergirl, Superboy (YAY!), Mon-el, Nightwing, Flamebird. I don’t know them all but I’m looking forward to getting to know them kryptonian idiosyncrasies.

  • Jo

    Starfire, YES! She was the reason I started reading “The New Teen Titans”, and it’s so great to see her grow from a teen alien into the sage-like leader of the new brand of kids, “Teen Titans”. People look up to her now.

    What I also like about her is that she is strong, feisty, smart, powerful, and not afraid to be sexual. Why can’t there be a female superhero who embraces her own sexuality freely? It’s what makes the female superheroes different from their male counterparts. Kory isn’t just some “bimbo” now; she’s evolved. She is completely alien, yet completely feminine at the same time.

    (And as an aside, I love Kara/Supergirl when the writers get her right….)

  • Sam

    Yay for the Superman shout out. My favorite alien is actually Chris Kent, the current Kryptonian Nightwing. I just love everything about his story, from being the kid of General Zod to the adopted kid of Superman, straight through his rapid-aging heroics now. He’s the best part (to me) of the whole New Krypton thing.

    I also love Supergirl. And Power Girl. And Superboy.

    I think I’m a sucker for the Supers.

  • bewize

    I’m going to surprise everyone who knows me and say – Agent Abigail Brand. Okay, so she’s only half alien, and we’re not even sure what kind, but she is everything awesome.

    I love her. I want to be her when I grow up.

  • @Anika Apparently I just fail at reading comprehension today. I’m having a day, sorry.

    Kory and Hawkgirl would be an amazing team-up, right?

  • Anika

    @Margot No problem! And YES to both Kory&Shayera and Kory&Chianna. If we add Dax — Kory, Shayera, Chianna and Dax. Sex and the City in space :)

  • @Anika I actually dislike SatC, but oh my god, I would watch that show/read that comic SO HARD. Why does it not exist right now?

  • Anika

    @Margot Someone should put us in charge of comics.

  • handyhunter

    I think Agent Brand wins by default, for me, though she’s an awesome character too!

    Sci-fi characters can represent non-white, non-straight, and non-Christian people — as long as they aren’t actually any of those things.

    Yeah. I think it also tends to lead to the idea of characters of colour as replaceable (with white people with a tan) or as fantastical as the superpower/magical elements in the story.

  • @Anika SatC IN SPACE could be the second book we create, right after we bring back a new and improved Young Justice, right? And then Jessica Jones mentoring Cissie King-Jones?

  • Anika

    @Margot Yes! Also the Young Justice/Young Avengers team-up with Cassie Squared. And Valeria Richards and Lian Harper in a Kindergarten Super Squad.

  • I’d have to go with Kilowog. I always thought he was a cool character growing up and one tough Green Lantern.

  • Dan

    This is a tough one.

    Teddy’s pretty awesome. And, I must admit that I think I actually like Xavin more than I do Karolina.

    The Starjammers are, obviously, awesome. I also love Warlock, even if most of the other techno-organics in Marvel are complete assholes.

    Half the fun of the Green Lantern books are guys like Kilowog and Salaak. And, until DC turned him into an arrogant douchebag, J’onn J’onnz was the heart and soul of every incarnation of the Justice League.

  • @Anika With Jubilee and Misfit as their baby-sitters!

    @Dan Not Lockheed? I was sure that would be your answer. 😉

  • Caroline

    Oh, I love our answers! I also appreciate all the people who brought up Kryptonians, because while the Superman franchise isn’t my very favorite, I do love Byrne’s Clark/Kal and I find the world that’s been built around him over the years really interesting. (Though my favorite member of the Supes family will always be Lois, natch.)

  • Cash

    I can’t believe there’s been all this talk about Hepzibah without one SINGLE mention of Walt Kelly.

    Named after the Summers’ cat. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

  • Menshevik

    This really is a tough question, isn’t it? From me, there’s quite a bit of love for lots of aliens, perhaps I’ll just list those that come to mind alphabetically:

    Hulkling
    Lockheed
    Lyja Laserfist Storm (a bit of a guilty pleasure)
    Phyla-Vell
    the Shingouz (from “Valérian”)
    Silver Surfer
    Superman
    Super-Skrull
    Warlock (of the New Mutants)

    Which ones are the favourites probably change on a daily basis.

    Can’t say I like the naming of Hepzibah after the Summers family cat (when did they come up with that idea?), I rather preferred to think that Corsair thought of Mam’selle Hepzibah from “Pogo” (apparently an actual inspiration for the character).

  • 1 – Queen Veranke.
    2 – Agent Brand, happy that others have mentioned her! 😀
    3 – Hepzibah (yey Caroline!)

  • xenokattz

    URGH, how could I have forgotten Brand? I’m so ashamed. Brand is awesome. Brand should have her own title. FOREVER.

    @Sam: Kon-el is my favourite legacy Superclan member. I was deeply resentful of Chris Kent for usurping the Superboy name albeit informally. Heck, I even hated Clark and Lois for a little while because on panel they seemed to ignore Kon but instantly took in Chris AND Kara. But then Kon came back and there is cute Clark-Kon interaction and all is forgiven. Lois and Clark with a child is adorable. Lois and Clark with three teenagers is FUN AND GAMES.

    @Caroline: IAWTC but alas, Lois is not an alien.

    @Cash & Menshevik: I hadn’t known the inspiration for Marvel’s Hapzibah. That’s kind of neat. Unfortunately, it’s a rather in character for Chris Summers to name a teammate after a housecat. Even if he really, really, really liked the cat. *L*

  • Cash

    I should thank Caroline, because by pointing out Hepzibah, she reminded me of my very favorite aliens: the crew of the good ship “Find the Lady” from Swamp Thing #32, Alan Moore & Shawn MacManus’s unforgettable story “Pog.”

    Frontmate Bartle, RIP.