Co-written by Racheal Carlson.
Comic books are like potato chips — as soon as you finish one, you start to hunger for another. Maybe it’s because we can vicariously live through epic battles, moral conflicts, and fantastic character arcs — or maybe it’s just because the stories are quick without losing their depth (always a plus when your reading time is limited to a portion of nap-time).
If you let your kids read comic books, they’ll learn meaningful life lessons. Lessons like: choices aren’t always easy, life doesn’t always go the way you plan, and heroes aren’t heroes because of their physical stature or witty catchphrases. I mean, obviously those things don’t hurt, but heroes are created one choice at a time. Through their choices, comic book heroes demonstrate the traits I want my kids to have — they’re assertive, resilient, confident, brave, self-defined, and selfless.
In the past few years, Marvel has started a new initiative: Marvel NOW! This initiative marks a turnover in creative teams and although it isn’t a reboot, newbies to the comic book scene will get a chance to start from the beginning with some well-loved characters. One awesome thing about the initiative? Lots more female heroes. Granted, Marvel has done pretty well in the past creating heroic women.
Here are a few of my favorite female Marvel powerhouses, and the traits I want my kids to learn from each …
1. Resilience | Sharon Carter
Not to be confused with her aunt, Peggy Carter, Sharon also worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America. Although she never had any superpowers, Sharon was accomplished in hand-to-hand combat, weapons use, computer technology, and just being all-around incredible.
After a top-secret mission went south, Sharon was believed dead by S.H.I.E.L.D. and effectively stuck in enemy territory. She finally escaped, only to be forced into mercenary work.
Though she was hardened by her experiences, Sharon upheld her moral standards and eventually was able to reconnect with S.H.I.E.L.D. — even leading the team on many occasions.
2. Confidence | Jennifer Walters (a.k.a. She-Hulk)
You thought Bruce Banner turned a mean green? She-Hulk was even more incredible. Jennifer was on the brink of death when her cousin Bruce saved her with a blood transfusion, giving her the side-effect of “Hulking Out.” Strangely enough, Jennifer actually felt more comfortable as She-Hulk than she did in her human form. After many struggles, she eventually learned to appreciate what each form had to offer and found confidence in both.
Her increase in confidence allowed her more control, and soon she was able to switch back and forth between Jennifer and She-Hulk without losing her wits. While her nuclear physicist cousin couldn’t be trusted to visit the grocery store as The Hulk, She-Hulk worked as a prominent — and green — attorney.
3. Bravery | Jubilation Lee (a.k.a. Jubilee)
Jubilee was a beloved daughter of wealthy Chinese immigrants, but when her parents were murdered by hit men, she ran away from the orphanage and hid in a mall, stealing food to survive. Her mutant powers soon manifested themselves, and she decided to use her “fireworks” (energy balls she could shoot out and then reabsorb) to earn some money.
The authorities hired Mutant Hunters to take her down, but she was saved by the X-Men and followed them home. While sneaking around their base, Jubilee witnessed Wolverine’s capture and torture by Reavers. Although she was terrified, she faced her fears and helped Wolverine escape.
Her bravery and determination struck a chord with Wolverine, and the two became like father and daughter, albeit father and daughter who fought bad guys together.
4. Be self-defined | Jessica Drew (a.k.a. Spider-Woman)
When a young Jessica Drew became mortally ill from radiation poisoning, her geneticist father saved her life by injecting her with an untested serum of spider blood. Since this is a comic series, Jessica gained superhuman powers including super strength, super speed, super durability, super hearing, super being-able-to-climb-on-walls, super shooting-toxins-from-her-hands, and super hotness (no, really — she gives off pheromones that make her irresistible to men).
One of the coolest things about Jessica is that her career doesn’t define her. She’s been a Hydra agent, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a S.W.O.R.D. agent, a private investigator, and is just starting her lifetime career of being a mother, but unlike some heroes (*cough* Batman *cough*), her job isn’t all she is. Jessica is clever, tough, and extremely relatable, which is what we all love to see in our heroes.
5. Selflessness | Kamala Khan (a.k.a. Ms. Marvel)
Kamala is part of Marvel NOW! — she’s a superhero fan whose favorite hero is the awesome Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers). One night her hometown of Jersey City was enveloped in Terrigen Mists, which cause inhuman genes to activate. Kamala apparently has some inhuman genes, as the mists gifted her the ability to grow or shrink at will and heal rapidly.
A vision from Captain Marvel encouraged Kamala to use her abilities for good, so she assumed Captain Marvel’s first alias — Ms. Marvel — and set out to help people. Her first act as Ms. Marvel was saving her very own bully from falling off of a bridge, so she’s already setting an example as a selfless hero and we’re definitely excited to get to know her more.
6. Assertiveness | Sue Storm (a.k.a. Invisible Woman)
Staking her claim in history as the first female Marvel superhero, Sue had a lot of stigmas to rise above. After an unauthorized space flight led to their bodies being inundated with cosmic rays, Sue, her brother Johnny, her boyfriend Reed, and her friend Ben were all left with superhuman abilities.
Sue’s powers included becoming invisible and producing force fields, so she chose the moniker “Invisible Girl.” Being the only girl on an all-boys team wasn’t always easy — many times Sue had to fight for equal treatment — but she was definitely up for the challenge.
When she changed her name to “Invisible Woman,” we all cheered a bit inside; she had more than earned that title.
Captain America: Civil War will be available on Disney Movies Anywhere, Digital HD and Blu-Ray September 13.More On