Full Frontal Friday – Women of Power


Vampirella #1 (VOL 5) Jenny Frison

Talk about a pop culture ICON and enduring lady, Vampirella is certainly near if not at the top of any conversation in this medium.  What I love about this cover is that it captures all of what Vampirella is.  She’s not a sleek and athletic society version of sexy.  Hell no.  What she is, is raw take you by the crotch and you’ll like it woman that exudes power, sensuality, and terror.  Born in 1969 Vampirella quickly went from being a horror hostess in the vein of Vampira and her two ‘brothers in publishing’ Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie to an outright star herself.  Her Vampirella magazine was just as, if not more popular than the Warren mags Creepy and Eeire.  Elvira drew inspiration and was partly modeled after her.  She’s endured and continues to see publication today.  She’s even had a movie release back in the mid 90’s (direct to video).  There was a crossover with Shadowhawk crossover in the heyday of Image’s 90s domination.  Her cult identity has helped spread her image in the form of statues/figurines/etc.  What’s really awesome about her though, is that it’s not just the dark attraction of her portrayal.

No, she’s actually a bad ass character that masterfully uses all of her assets.  Yes, she’s sexy.  Her outfit has remained unchanged (in most portrayals) from the original time piece.  Yes it shows her off BUT what I love about it, is that from day one she was made to be all woman.  Her image isn’t one of some societal perfection crap.  No.  No Vampirella is full on woman.  That doesn’t just mean her bust is drawn off the page or she’s always got floss up her crack.  Hell no.  The entirety of her figure is full and shows off her well rounded abilities a vampire.  Sure, she’s got that sensual and sexual manipulation as most classical vampires do.  Other abilities of hers include a healing factor, senses heightened well above human levels, physical abilities well above human levels, and immunity to Earth bound sicknesses and poisons.  There’s demon wings she can sprout in order to fly as well.  Oh, she’s immortal, pretty good in hand to hand combat, and recently has been given a pretty well rounded mastery of modern day fire arms.  Did I mention the telepathy?  Well she’s got a level of that too.  Vampirella shows that it isn’t just about popular opinion on what looks good, feels good, or sounds good.  Make something as it should be and it’ll be fine.  Vampirella has proven to be much more than fine.  Shes a powerful cult icon that stands up to anything else trotted out since her birth in 1969.

Jenny Frison does a great job of capturing the subtlety of her power.  She keeps the classic outfit and classic figure (check how the hips/mid section are drawn) to create a very strong image.  There’s something sultry about it that draws you in.  When you get there though, the eyes very clearly indicate the raw nature of who she is and what she’s capable of.  All of the elements that have been done correctly about Vampirella are on full display here.

Xena #5 (VOL2) Sergio Davila

This is a woman that is often cited when I have conversations with groups of folks my age.  Those OMG GIRLS! that found their way to comic books or geekdom in general usually, at least, mention Xena if not outright put her in the bucket of why they are fans of such things as adults.  Here Sergio Davila depicts her in a classic way.  Straight forward right out of a battle she’s unscathed and clearly has gotten the better of whom or whatever it was.  The dust hasn’t even settled yet and she’s coming straight toward what’s next.  This view and stance has been used countless times over to show off or depict the imminent power of an individual.  Culturally, and as a character in her own starring role, Xena wields plenty of power.  Originally she appeared on TV.  Red Sonja-esque in her origin (a main supporting character for a larger male role, Hercules in this case), Xena has fully crossed over just like the red-headed sword wielder.  
The two are very similar in their courses of history.  Xena though seems to have been the product of very good timing.  The types of shows (Hercules) she debuted in were getting stale and new angles were being searched for.  Unlike Sonja who was pushed to try and continue to elevate an actress, Xena was pushed because the people wanted more of her.  She was branched off and given her own highly successful run on TV starring in her own series.  There’s animated appearances, to include the coveted SIMPSONS guest spot, comics, and video games stints.  The character also helped usher in the LGB awareness and acceptance in mainstream arenas.  We’re seeing the flowers of that flourish today (and broadened to even more awareness and acceptance).  Xena has done big things for everyone on many different fronts.  Seeing an image that captures the beauty, grace, strength, and power only reinforces everything she has encapsulated for over two decades now. 

Wonder Woman ’77/Bionic Woman #1 Alex Ross

Wonder Woman herself is enough for a woman of power cover.  Add in that it is a depiction of THE Wonder Woman – Lynda Carter herself?  I don’t really need to write anything.  But here though, we’ve got us a twofer of awesome!  We also get Lindsay Wagner!  Wonder Woman was the first female character to take this genre by storm.  Immensely popular from day one, she has always been treated as her own star.  Her creation was literally as a testament to the new, liberated woman of the 1940s!  More so, she was aptly created as the ‘full picture’ of what a hero should be.  She was a warrior first and foremost (thanks Amazon heritage) but encapsulated grace, love, and an empathy that a male hero simply couldn’t reflect (especially at the time).  Everything about her was perfect, and powerful.

The Bionic Woman was no different.  As a character created for a two part episode of the very popular 6 Million Dollar Man, she was so popular that the ABC executives were asking how they could bring her back to the show (she had died in the story).  So a plot was envisioned to have her actually not be dead and she was returned to the screen before getting her own show.  She was so popular that her solos series went 3 seasons and aired across two networks.  In the UK it was even more popular than the 6 Million Dollar man and reached unparalleled heights for sci-fi programming there.

BOTH of these characters were written to be strong and graceful.  Many times their very beauty and grace provided the strength and power that they needed to overcome and be the hero.  Heroism takes on many forms and with these two we’ve got the very first and one of the most popular ever examples of the female form of HERO.  They’re powerful through their abilities as well as their humanity.  All outlets of entertainment and culture saw these characters and these woman breakthrough and shine with a status that sits on the top shelf.  It isn’t despite being women or because they are women.  Their status and their power lies within being well made and well portrayed.  Character after character is created and pushed to try and be something by being forced.  Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman happened organically and were accepted because they belonged.  Obtaining richly deserved accolades and being glowing examples for generations to follow only bolsters their star power.  The way they’ve crossed over into cultural ICON across the world is an example to us all.  Alex Ross gives us an image that transcends generations.   

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