ALL GROWN UP: Image’s Bad Girls at 25

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Image Comics was founded 25 years ago—you may have noticed all the commemorative parties they’ve been having. It was a shot in the arm to the American comic book industry, a nice load of amphetamine that got everyone buzzing and yelling and focused and horny. The young, male pioneers at Image’s founding gave a huge push to the “women in comics” aesthetic that’s dogged us in various guises since. It’s in the bodies, their arrangement, and that uninterrupted gradient colouring.

But was it all bad? Were those comics beyond salvation? Were the stories a drag—did they treat the women in them like it looked as if they did? Those of us who read Image ladybooks in the 1990s and soon after owe it to ourselves to look honestly at what we got out of the experience—good, bad, and ambivalent. Those of us who stayed away could maybe stand to see what we missed, and what we saved ourselves from. Whether we were there or whether we weren’t, there’s so much LOL IMAGE IN THE 90S HA HA in the nerdosphere that I’m all fed up and ready for some genuine reflection. What did these women give us?

So Women Write About Comics is having a bonanza, my babies. A year-long festival of LISTEN. When a person turns twenty-five their brain begins to settle down and they become a more reliable person. Does this happen for disjointed and corporately unusual comic book publishers? Does it happen for the characters under their wings? Where are all the babes of Image’s 1990s, and how are they being published now? Many of the starter and follow-up titles have been refreshed recently or are being refreshed this year. Many of Image’s Bad Girls have been forgotten. Is that just; is it right? We want to know, we want you to know, and—if you’re interested—we want you to tell us. We’ve begun the work below, but if you have a pitch to add please send it in.

These women. Do you remember them?

WildC.A.T.s

1, a look at the old, and 2 a peek at the new.

Witchblade

We said goodbye to Sara Pezzini when her series closed in 2016; her legacy is pondered in this review of Darwin Cooke-drawn issue Witchblade Animated.

Glory

We speak to 2012 reboot artist Sophie Campbell about her time with the character.

Magdalena

How can contradictions inherent be navigated in a new iteration of a legacy?

Cyber Force

Two of our editorial team are Cyber Force fans of old. How do they feel now? (coming)

Angela

Remember when Marvel’s best hornhead belonged to the Spawniverse? Yeah, about that… (coming)

We’re also proud (and almost ready) to present a conversation about growth and evolution with current Top Cow Top Guy, Matt Hawkins—but that leaves us, as you can see, with a deficit of non-Top Cow features. Who will speak for (or against) Cybernary? Who will come to bat for the women of Wetworks? Do you care about Stormwatch? Have you heard of Allegra? If you’ve been a reader of Savage Dragon, how are the women in that written and drawn? Surely someone has something to say about Youngblood’s dames??

Let’s look at what we’ve got—twenty-five years of American comics norms and often toxic storytelling soup—and see if we can’t sieve out something meaningful for ourselves, as people who saw those times and readers still reeling from them. Whaddaya say? Let’s paint our own picture. Hindsight makes a clearer image.

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About Author

The rock that drops on your head. WWAC Features & Opinions Ed. Find me at claire.napier@wwacomics.com

2 Comments

  1. I believe that’s actually Witchblade in the middle illustration above that’s labeled “A woman, by Marc Silvestri.” At least, her arm appears to be covered by the full-length battle-gauntlet form of the titular Witchblade. This is actually a sort of bracelet/wristband that, when activated, transforms to cover the entire arm and shoot out strategically-placed tendrils of magical armor over the rest of the wearer’s body, usually producing a sort of “iron bikini with evening gloves” effect (and incidentally ripping off the rest of her regular clothes). I believe it also enables the wearer to generate various edged weapons such as swords and spears from her now-metal-covered hands. But its resting form is decidedly unbladelike in appearance.

    • It doesn’t look like the Witchblade — it’s not green, the regular gemstones aren’t visible, it’s not in a formation regular to the digitabulum — and there were so many near-identical bramblesque “outfits” in the Top Cow universe of the time it’s impossible to say who she’d be just by looking. Especially as so many of Silvestri’s women looked so very similar. Which is the whole point here, really, isn’t it?