As Secret Wars rears its head and Battle World begins to take shape, the Marvel landscape is set to go through some vast changes—chief amongst them being the debut of a premiere superhero team in A-Force. Written by G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Marguerite Bennett (Angela: Asgard’s Assassin) and illustrated by Jorge Molina (X-Men), the book features an all-female superhero team led by She-Hulk. The book takes place in Arcadia, which Wilson describes as a “feminist paradise,” where the team will battle against a currently unknown threat before banding together as one.
A-Force presents a great opportunity for Marvel, which has put in a great effort to make titles accessible to more than just straight, white males. This title will allow Marvel, Wilson, Bennett and Molina the chance to showcase some of Marvel’s best and most underused characters. With so many Marvel heroines to choose from, we thought we’d add in our say for 10 C-List Marvel heroines A-Force could spotlight.
As a note before we begin, there is one catch to this list: if the character appears on the cover to A-Force #1 or in the online preview for the first issue, they’re immediately disqualified from the list.
Tabitha Smith has gone through many incarnations, but she hasn’t solidified a role in the Marvel Universe as anything more than a fan-favorite cameo. And she’s had a few names, to boot: Time Bomb, Boom-Boom, Boomer and Meltdown. Smith’s had the opportunity to join multiple teams, including the New Mutants, X-Force, X-Terminators, X-Men and the unforgettable Nextwave. But if we take the Boom Boom that appeared in the canon-but-also-not-canon Nextwave, we open the door for one of the most fun and funny super heroines in the mainstream with a violent, out of control, energetic and hilarious character that doesn’t conform to the standard superhero ethos. Boom Boom is a status disrupter, someone you wouldn’t see standing next to the likes of She-Hulk and Captain Marvel—that’s exactly why she’s perfect to do so.
There’s no doubt that Molly Hayes was the fan-favorite star of Runaways. She’s the young girl who inherently represented the wide-eyed wonder we all had as sprouts, and Molly is the character who wants to be a superhero more than anyone. By gosh, she certainly deserves it! Yet Molly hasn’t had the opportunity to really appear in too many series; given her age, she’s treated almost as a non-entity—too young to appeal to the teen crowd, too niche to appeal to the general one. And yet Molly earned a very special place in Runaways fans hearts for her optimism, humor, candor and general ass-kicking ability. If A-Force is about established heroines like She-Hulk and Captain Marvel empowering and nurturing the next generation, Molly Hayes would make a fantastic addition.
For a while, Hope Summers was the most important character around. The first mutant birth after Brian Michael Bendis the Scarlet Witch declared “no more mutants,” Hope had an adventurous life as an orphan stuck in the future, a savior sent back in time, the leader of the next generation of mutants and, briefly, the conduit for the Phoenix Force. Yet after giving life to the mutant race again, Hope’s mission ended and her character was somewhat sidelined, despite the years of development a multitude of writers in the X-Office had given her—and that’s a huge shame. A character that seemed poised to essentially be “the next Jean Grey,” Hope was sidelined when a young Jean Grey came to the future in All-New X-Men, but A-Force seems like the perfect place for her to return as both an Omega-level mutant and a disillusioned young woman who was groomed for war and doesn’t know how to live in peace yet (which is basically the bio of every over-written Marvel male hero around).
Created for a brief appearance by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for Thor, Hippolyta was brought back from obscurity in Fearless Defenders to essentially be Marvel’s Wonder Woman. When Fearless Defenders was canceled, Hippolyta went back into obscurity—but there’s no reason she should stay there. Hippolyta is a character who’s appeared just enough to be recognizable, but a new writer could still truly explore her background and redefine her without having to adhere too strictly to continuity. And while A-Force has Thor at their disposal, it would be interesting to see Hippolyta get her chance to become one of Marvel’s more notable bruisers.
Of all the characters on this list, Dani Moonstar most deserves a place on Marvel’s B-List. A Marvel mainstay from New Mutants, Dani has gone through a few different teams in the Marvel U (New Mutants, Young X-Men, Fearless Defenders) and toed towards being a Leading Marvel Lady since her introduction in the ‘80s. But while Dani has grown as both a featured and supporting player, she’s never lost her potential to be among the greatest Marvel has to offer: a born leader, a talented telepath and someone worthy enough to be among the Valkyrie’s greatest. Dani is one of those characters who has shown a tremendous amount of staying power mostly due to her versatility as a character, and often we’ll see various creators (such as Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Cullen Bunn or Zeb Wells) give her roles of increasing importance as she inches ever closer to the mainstream—and yet, when her books are canceled, she falls back into obscurity. But Dani never stays down for too long, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her appear in A-Force as one of the most important players on the team. She certainly deserves it.
Replacing T’Challa as the Black Panther is a tough act, but Shuri did it. After ascending into the role of leader of Wakanda, Shuri proved to be one of the smartest and most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. Despite her fortitude in battle, we don’t see the Black Panther nearly as often as we should. After all, leading the most powerful nation in the world is no easy task, and Shuri’s been the leader for half a decade now. And while T’Challa still appears often as an acolyte of the Panther God, it is Shuri who has earned and proven the actual title of Black Panther, and it would be great to see her become a bigger player on Marvel’s grand stage.
Idie was the most successful character to spin out of Generation Hope besides Hope herself. Earning a starring role in Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men as one of the most important students at the Jean Grey Academy, Idie’s had a great few years as she came to grips with her faith, her mutant powers, her past and her love life. But as Wolverine and the X-Men went away, so too did Idie from the spotlight, and—just like with Hope—it’d be a shame for a character that had been so well developed to be lost to the sands of time. Idie had become one of the most important members of the new era of X-Men with her earnest personality, warm heart and her intense desire to do right by her friends, and a character like Idie could very easily be the heart and soul of any team she’s on.
Cammi made her debut during the events of Marvel’s cosmic epic Annihilation and was otherwise missing until Dennis Hopeless brought her back for the Battle Royale-inspired Avengers Arena. In that series, Cammi very quickly earned a loyal and avid fan base; one of the few people stuck in Arcade’s machinations who managed to rise above the pettiness and assert herself, Cammi went on to show real initiative as a leader. Winding up the most well-rounded character to escape Murderworld, Cammi was one of the few survivors who went on to find her home and not get enveloped by the PTSD that followed—and this is exactly why Cammi would fit in so well with the current group of young heroines that Marvel has been giving the spotlight.
A member of the graduating class of Avengers Academy, Finesse is a character we haven’t seen in a while. Potentially the daughter of Taskmaster and with the ability to match and mimic any actions that she sees, Finesse was a smart and strong character who never fit in with the rest of her class. If Avengers Academy was about teaching potential villains how to be heroes, then Finesse won Most Likely To Become a Supervillain in the yearbook. As aloof and dangerous as Finesse was, she was also a character with immense potential—making her one of many young heroines just waiting for her chance to really wow audiences.
“Really? Is a floating brain in a jar worth putting on a top-tier superhero team?” you ask. My immediate response is: yes, absolutely. Martha is different in pretty much every obvious way. With no body to inhabit and no easy writing solutions, what Martha inherently represents is the opportunity to do something different—and that’s an important element that most comics tend to eschew in favor of characters that can banter and punch. And the thing about Martha is that, despite just being a brain in a bottle, she remains one of the most memorable elements of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, by disabling both Cyclops and Emma Frost in her first appearance, assisting Magneto in his ascension and eventually defeating both Quentin Quire and Zero later on. Martha is powerful, Martha is clever, and Martha presents a great opportunity for A-Force.