In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
What legacy character would you invent, if given the chance?
I want Wonder Woman to be a Sorority Girl.
No, really. Keep reading. Wonder Woman is a great symbol but as a character she falters. Mostly because to actually falter, to show humanity (as opposed to being told how wonderfully human she is), would take away from her symbolism as the premiere female superhero (let’s be honest, Marvel has been trying to “get a Wonder Woman” for years). When she does show it, people cry OOC. Wonder Woman is, quite literally, a goddess. This is not limited, even, to Diana — all the Wonders are steeped in Greek Mythology. And I love Greek Mythology and I love Wonder Woman, but that pedestal she’s on does make it difficult to identify with her.
Now, the stereotypical sorority is an exclusive clique with university funding. But even if that was true, it’s still more welcoming than Themyscira. And the stereotypical Sorority Girl is pretty, vapid, ditzy, silly — a throwback to the society girls that drove Sylvia Plath mad because she was one and wanted more. But the reality is, in order to be accepted to a sorority a young woman must be accomplished in multiple fields. Academics and athletics and social standing. She lives on a pedestal but she’s a real girl. And that would be a great new spin on Wonder Woman.
I want Hope, the costar of the current Cable comic, to be the new Phoenix. Now, I’m totally cheating here, because (a) I’m not inventing the character and (b) it looks likely that she will turn out to be some kind of Phoenix host. But there are a lot of ways that could play out, and the prevailing rumor is that she’ll turn out, in some way that makes sense by the relative definition of “sense” that prevails in X-Men comics, to actually be the (sort of) deceased original X-Men team member Jean Grey.
I don’t want that to happen. Don’t get me wrong, Jean is my favorite character in all of comics and I would like to see her back in action as soon as possible. But I also like Hope. She’s an interesting girl. Over the past twenty-something issues of Cable, we’ve watched her grow up into an interesting, unique person. I’d hate for the fallout of the impending Second Coming event to be that she is “really” someone else. How is that even possible? Who we are is in large part the sum of our experiences, and Hope’s experiences so far have been a lot different than Jean Grey’s were. If the writers arbitrarily tell us that Hope is Jean, that doesn’t mean anything without Jean’s experiences. And if Jean’s memories are eventually used to overwrite Hope’s, then this new and interesting and lively character will basically be destroyed. Sounds counterproductive.
Instead, I’d like to see the Phoenix force be used in a way that has often been flirted with in the past (especially with Rachel Summers/Grey, Jean’s alternate dimension daughter), as a way to pass on a legacy-based identity. I’d love to see Rachel and Jean back in the mix, too, but I hope Marvel takes advantage of the opportunity to use a brand new character to approach the Phoenix idea in a different way. Without the baggage of trauma and insanity that’s inevitably been involved when the Grey women approach the cosmic power, I’d like to see Hope discover a new, positive way to channel that power. Then she can use it to help her predecessors.
I love Tony Stark. I do. But let’s face it: a rich white dude who becomes an electrical engineering expert and later uses his massive wealth to fund the production of superhero robot suits is… not exactly an underdog. Sure, he’s naturally smart, but his intelligence and interests were encouraged from an early age largely because of those factors of his birth — his wealth, his race, and his gender. Even if he wasn’t a genius, he’d have had a pretty good chance of becoming who he became.
So what I want in a legacy character is a new Iron Man — or, more specifically, a new Iron Woman. As we’ve discussed on Fantastic Fangirls before, women in comics are rarely celebrated for their intelligence, and even more rarely for their intelligence in the sciences. So I want a woman who is every bit as intelligent as Tony Stark, and is able to build her own suit with her own brain and hands — not take a suit as a gift from Tony, as the women who’ve held the role before (Bethany Cabe and Pepper Potts) have. I want this woman to have succeeded despite the pressure placed on girls to avoid the sciences and remain in the more “feminine” disciplines of the liberal arts. And while we’re at it, I want her to be Hispanic, or black, from a working class background. I want a girl for whom all the societal odds were against her, who somehow managed nonetheless to get a top college education and craft a superhero identity and powers with her knowledge and brilliance alone. I also want this girl to be absolutely altruistic — not secretly evil, as most “as smart as Tony Stark” characters have been portrayed over the years. I want her to be a hero, an equal of Tony’s in all ways — and NOT a love interest. They could team up, or she could succeed him in the role. Either way, that’s the kind of story I’d love to read.
Oh, and her suit of armor wouldn’t have breast-shaped cones on its chest. She’d be way too practical for that.
My new legacy character is Karla Nilsson. Adopted as an infant by a pair of college professors in Austin, Texas, Karla had a happy childhood. She did well in school, excelled in junior rodeo, and competed in gymnastics and archery. As a teenager, Karla set about trying to find her birth parents in Mexico. She found that her mother had been killed trying to cross the border. Karla became a crusader for the rights and protections of illegal entrants to the United States. By the time she was eighteen she had managed to offend a local human trafficker, who threatened her. Karla got the man arrested. After his arrest she was attacked by his men and badly beaten. As she healed, Karla resolved to continue her fight. Using her skills as an archer, gymnast, and equestrian, Karla began harassing local criminals. She began calling herself The Huntress.
Karla’s efforts brought her into contact with The Question. Renee sized her up and called Helena Bertinelli to tell her about this girl using the Huntress name. Helena, with an assist from Oracle, flew to Austin and met up with Karla. After an initial acrimonious and somewhat hostile series of interactions Helena agreed to help Karla — she and the other Birds of Prey would provide some training and equipment if Karla agreed to call herself something else. Karla settled on Cazadora — “Huntress” in Spanish.
So what about you? What legacy character would you invent, if given the chance?