Bonnie King Jones (Miss Arrowette)

Bonnie King was a gifted archer gifted enough to win an Olympic bronze medal. But her controlling mother expected her to win the gold, and the ensuing fight caused Bonnie to cut ties with her mother.
Inspired by Green Arrow, Bonnie decided to use her archery to fight crime alongside them, creating an arsenal of ‘girly’ arrows, including powder puff arrows and mascara arrows. Hey, it was the early 60s. Ollie was not at all pleased by his new would-be sidekick, and did his best to talk her out of superheroics (though he wasn’t above dating her in his civilian identity, because that’s just how Ollie rolls). Undaunted, Bonnie kept fighting crime as Miss Arrowette. She even got a sidekick of sorts: her biggest fan, journalist Bernell ‘Bowstring’ Jones.
When her job as a secretary gave her carpal tunnel syndrome, Bonnie was forced to give up archery. She talked Bowstring into marrying her and they had a daughter, Cissie (though Bonnie has implied that she’s actually Ollie’s). Bowstring died a few years later from food poisoning, and Bonnie used the insurance money to turn Cissie into the superhero she’d always wanted to be. She drove Cissie so hard that soon after Cissie’s debut as Arrowette, Child Welfare Services intervened and Bonnie lost custody of her daughter.
Cissie retired from superheroics after nearly losing control and killing a criminal, and she and Bonnie attempted a tentative reconciliation. In fact, with Bonnie’s encouragement, Cissie entered the ‘Summer Games’ (read: Olympics) and won the gold thanks, in part, to Bonnie foiling attempts at sabotage from the other competitors.
So What’s So Great About Her?

Just like Bianca Reyes is a believably good mother, Bonnie King is a believably bad mother. She has no plans for world domination. She didn’t train Cissie to be an assassin or sacrifice her to a cult. She’s just the world’s most overbearing stage mother, where the ‘stage’ is ‘shooting potentially-lethal projectiles at super-powered criminals while wearing a tiara.’ Like you do.
And there’s no question about Bonnie being a bad mother. She subjects her daughter to years of emotional and verbal abuse along with reckless endangerment. Even when she loses custody of Cissie, she’s still trying to market her daughter as the star of Young Justice, still laughing off Cissie’s serious injuries and trying to convince herself this is the life Cissie wants. It takes Cissie nearly committing murder to make Bonnie finally acknowledge that her daughter is angry and unhappy and that Bonnie made her that way.
But there’s also no question that Bonnie loves her daughter. Cissie is Bonnie’s entire world to an unhealthy degree, certainly, but the love is there. And once Cissie retires from superheroics, Bonnie’s obsessive focus turns into a protective Mama Bear instinct that winds up working for for Cissie; at the Summer Games, Bonnie spots the Golden Age villain Huntress training a disguised weapon on Cissie, and takes Huntress out with a well-thrown lighter.
Most importantly, though, Bonnie does genuinely try to improve. Once it’s made clear to her that the vigilante lifestyle is not a good fit for Cissie, she tries to find other ways of connecting with her daughter, without pressuring her. She tries to show Cissie that her talent for archery is innate, not just something forced on her by Bonnie, and that Cissie can still enjoy archery, competition, and even the spotlight when she guest-stars in an episode of Wendy the Werewolf Stalker without dredging up all the negative memories from her time as a superhero. Rather than shape Cissie into a better version of herself, she presents Cissie with opportunities and lets Cissie choose whether or not to take them.
Bonnie isn’t going to win Mother of the Year any time soon, except maybe on a very special episode of Toddlers and Tiaras. But she’s a fascinating character who feels very real in her failings, and who’s trying to do better. And at the end of the day, she does love her daughter. That’s got to count for something, right?
Notable Appearances:
…or, you know, all her appearances. Same diff.
World’s Finest Comics #113, 118, 134
Justice League of America v1 #7
Impulse #28
Young Justice #7, 16, 18, 20-21, 24-25, 29-30, 33-34, 49-53, 55
Young Justice 80-Page Giant

Bianca Reyes

Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Blue Beetle v6 #1 (May 2006)
Created By: Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner

Biography:
Bianca Reyes had a good life: a job as a nurse, a loving husband, and two wonderful kids. That is, until her son Jaime went missing and her husband was shot, leaving him dependent on a cane to get around. Then Jaime returned after a year of being gone, full of wild stories of fighting evil satellites in space with the Justice League, and with an undetectable piece of alien technology bonded to his spine. That allowed him to fly. And shoot things. And get shot at.
Did I mention the aliens who owned the tech planned on invading Earth?
Bianca coped as well as any mother could, laying down ground rules (if you’re going to be out late fighting monsters, call first) and cowing various sketchy superheroes who showed up to mentor or hassle Jaime. When the Reach, the aliens who’d messed with her son, attacked the rest of the Reyes family, she fought back along with her husband and Jaime’s friends and helped repel the Reach’s attempted invasion of Earth.
The last we saw of Bianca, she was still supporting her son in his new life as a superhero, and though we haven’t really seen her since Jaime’s solo series ended, I think it’s safe to assume she’s still doing just that.
So What’s So Great About Her?

Comic books are full of extreme personalities. The characters are larger than life, and so mothers, for example, veer wildly between the Greatest Mother Ever (Ma Kent) and the Worst Mother Ever (hoo boy, some steep competition there). But every so often I come across a mother who reads as real to me; a mother who, if I ever make my own mother happy, marry that Jewish doctor, and crank out the babies, is the kind of mother I’d like to be.
Bianca Reyes is that kind of mother.
Bianca was a woman with a hard job to do raising two kids and then the Reach went and made it harder by sticking their scarab in her son’s spine. And as hard as she tries, she doesn’t always get it right. When Jaime first shows her the Blue Beetle armor, she accuses him of not being her son anymore. She struggles with guilt over that reaction, along with frustration at not being able to help Jaime in a medical capacity despite being a nurse, and fear that her son will be killed or lost to her now that he’s fighting the neverending battle.
But she copes with all that, and she copes admirably. She’s nurturing and loving: she makes sure Jaime knows he can tell her anything, whether it be scarab- or sexuality-related, and she’s the one he turns to when his best friend Brenda is emotionally devastated and needs somebody she can trust. She’s fun, teasing and bantering with her kids and getting as many laugh-out-loud one-liners as the rest of the cast. But she’s anything but a pushover: Jaime is subject to the same rules about not attacking guests and watching his language that he was before he got his fancy-pants bugsuit, and homework still comes first.
And badass? Everyone loves the scene where Bianca backs down an enraged Guy Gardner with nothing but her angry face, but I prefer the scene where she coolly sedates Peacemaker, who’s attempting to strangle her, then snarks at him. And let’s not forget that when the Reach tries to wipe out Jaime’s family, Bianca makes sure her daughter is safe, then picks up a gun right alongside her veteran husband, a gang, and a handful of superheroes, and kicks some alien ass all while quizzing her son’s new girlfriend on her college prospects. Way to multitask, Bianca!
Bianca was the coolest mom in town before her son got superpowers, and she remains the coolest mom in town after he gets them. If that hypothetical Jewish doctor and I ever make my mother a grandmother, I would prefer my kids not have dangerous extraterrestrial tech hooked up to their nervous systems…but other than that, I want to be just like Bianca.

Notable Appearances:
Bianca was a regular supporting character in Blue Beetle v6. She doesn’t appear in all 36 issues, but you should read them all anyway, because they’re great.
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Kara Zor-L/Karen Starr (Power Girl)

Karen is the Earth-2 counterpart of Supergirl, first cousin to Superman. When her universe’s Krypton (Krypton-2?) exploded, Karen, like Superman, was placed in a rocket to Earth. However, hers took years to arrive, and so unlike Supergirl, who debuted as a docile teenager in the 1950s, Power Girl debuted as an adult woman in the liberated 1970s. In her very first appearance, she defies Superman’s orders to keep her powers hidden and helps the Justice Society save a village by singlehandedly putting out a volcano. It’s great.
Karen served as a member of the JSA until the Crisis in 1985. In the new continuity, Earth-2 and Supergirl no longer existed, but somehow Karen squeaked through. Now she was the granddaughter of the ancient Atlantean sorcerer Arion, sent 1000 years into the future to protect her from his enemies. Her powers became magic-based and were also severely downgraded, thanks to an injury. She became vulnerable to ‘organic material’ (so, like…sticks), gave birth to a magical immaculately conceived baby who thankfully quickly aged to adulthood and disappeared forever, and discovered that drinking diet soda made her irrational and temperamental (read: ‘bitchy’). It wasn’t a good time for her.
In the late 1990s, Karen joined the reformed Justice Society, and has been a major player on that team ever since. In 2006 the multiverse was restored, as well as Karen’s origin as a survivor of Krypton-2 and her Kyrptonian powers. With her superheroic identity settled, she moved to New York, reopened her software company Starr Enterprises, and is now working on her civilian identity as well in her very first ongoing series.
So What’s So Great About Her?

DC’s attempts at writing feminism in the 1970s were often awkward. (Hell, they’re often awkward now there’s a reason this site exists.) ‘Feminist’ characters were often written as crazed, overly-strident harridans, shrieking about the hapless men on the team opening doors for them. Karen was a feminist right from the get-go, butting heads with cranky old Wildcat and demanding her rightful place in the JSA’s boys’ club, and her combative attitude often put her firmly in the ‘harridan’ category.
The thing is, though, while characters like Wonder Woman and Lois Lane eventually stopped being vilified for demanding equality, Karen’s aggression and self-confidence meant that she was constantly being taken to task for her ‘bad attitude.’ One Earth-2 she was patronized by her cousin and her teammates; during her tenure in the JLE she spent her time being depowered, impregnated by wizards, subjected to ever more offensive theories about what was ‘wrong’ with her, and leered at by Wally West. And that’s not even getting into all the grief she’s received about her costume, on-panel and off.
A lesser woman would have caved under all that pressure, but not Power Girl. Karen remains the same aggressive, independent, shitkicking vocal feminist she was in 1976. In recent years a lot has been done to make her a more complex and well-rounded character; she’s gained a sense of fun, built stronger relationships with other characters in the DCU, and found a steady home with the JSA. Her mentor/protégé relationship with the current Terra, her reclaiming of Starr Enterprises, and the sheer magic that occurs when Amanda Conner draws her have done a lot to broaden the character’s appeal.
But at the end of the day, the shitkicking feminist is the core of Power Girl’s character. She’s tough and she’s unafraid to speak her mind and she knows she deserves every bit of respect the men around her get. Yes, she’s got a big rack. Yes, there have been numerous stumbly explanations for the boob window that only make things worse. Who cares? What’s important is that she kicks ass, and that she knows that she kicks ass. So here’s to Power Girl, the shitkickingest Kryptonian of them all.
Notable Appearances:
All-Star Comics #58-74
Showcase #97-99
Infinity, Inc. v1 #1-12
Secret Origins v2 #11 first post-Crisis origin
Power Girl v1 #1-4
Justice League Europe #1-50
Justice League International v2 #51-67
Justice League America #105-108 the…sigh…mystical pregnancy
JSA #31-87
Justice Society of America v3 #1-33
JSA Classified #1-4
Infinite Crisis #2-6
Karen is currently starring in Power Girl v2 and JSA All-Stars #1-18, though the latter is scheduled to be canceled in a couple of months. If you read nothing else with the character, pick up the trades Power Girl: A New Beginning and Power Girl: Aliens and Apes, which collect the delightful Jimmy Palmiotti/Justin Gray/Amanda Conner arc that kicked off her ongoing series. The trade Power Girl is a good overview of the post-Crisis, pre-Infinite Crisis Karen.

Tara Markov (Terra I)

Tara Markov was the illegitimate daughter of the king of Markovia. Like her half-brother Brion, the legitimate prince of Marvokia, she was experimented on by a doctor named Helga Jace, who gave both children the power to manipulate earth and rock. Brion became the superhero Geo-Force, while Tara was sent to America to avoid a scandal. There she adopted the name Terra and started using her powers to steal. When the New Teen Titans apprehended her, she explained that she’d been kidnapped by terrorists, who were forcing her to steal for them. The Titans took down the terrorists and offered Terra membership.
Unbeknownst to the Titans, though, the whole thing was a set-up, and Terra was a spy, employed by their enemy Deathstroke the Terminator to join the team and ferret out their secrets. While the Titans saw her as a scared and defensive young girl (and Beast Boy found himself smitten with her), she was in reality a ruthless sociopath who was disgusted by the Titans’ do-gooderness and gleefully anticipated their deaths. Even her employer (and lover, because creepy) Deathstroke was alarmed by her power and heartlessness.
Terra helped Deathstroke capture the Titans, but before the prisoners could be killed, Deathstroke was possessed by his heroic son Jericho, who released the Titans. Furious at what she perceived as Deathstroke’s betrayal, Terra went completely insane and pulled the entire complex down on herself while trying to kill…well, basically everyone else. The Titans gave her a heroes’ funeral and kept her betrayal a secret in an attempt to protect her brother, but it has since become common knowledge, at least in the superhero community.
So What’s So Great About Her?

Since the original Terra plotline, there have been several other takes on the character. A heroic Tara Markov doppelganger showed up claiming to be from the future and displaying the same powers as the original Terra; though it’s not clear whether she is really the original Terra somehow brought back to life or not, she’s certainly allied with the side of good. The most recent character to take on the Terra mantle (that’s a little geology joke for you), Atlee, is also unshakably good at her core (zing!). And the animated version of Terra in the 2003 Teen Titans show is what readers expected the comic book character to be: a troubled but essentially decent girl who is led astray by Slade/Deathstroke.
But the original Terra doesn’t bother with any of that. She was a shock when she was introduced: a somewhat rabbit-faced little blonde kid, cute as a button, and determined to slaughter the Titans without a hint of remorse. She never betrays any compassion or affection for her teammates, and goes to her grave absolutely crazy with hate. Even knowing how her story ends, reading The Judas Contract today is surprising, with its uncompromising depiction of her sheer maliciousness.
Even beyond the context of her story and the power of the betrayal, Terra’s a fantastic character to read. For starters, she’s a powerhouse, an elemental force who gives the far more experienced Titans and Deathstroke a run for their money. She’s not just a strong fighter, she’s a cunning fighter who learns fast and is an effective member of the team before her true nature is revealed. She’s also smart enough to live with the Titans for months and still manage to hide the truth. And to be perfectly honest, there’s something refreshing about her foul-mouthed disregard for the Titans. Even though the Titans are a likable bunch, it’s hard not to be delighted when Terra mocks their sanctimoniousness and melodramatic romantic entanglements. Sure, she’s evil, but she’s such a fun evil.
Terra had a very brief lifespan, all things considered only about 20 issues. But she’s an enjoyable character and a memorable villain, and her actions continue to have ramifications for the Titans today. Not a bad legacy.
Notable Appearances:
New Teen Titans v1 #26-40
Tales of the Teen Titans 41-44, Annual #3
…Or you can just pick up the trades Terra Incognito and The Judas Contract.

Beatriz Da Costa (Fire)

Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Super Friends #25 (October 1979)
Created By: E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon
Biography:

Bea originally debuted in Super Friends as the Green Fury, with inconsistently-defined flame-based powers courtesy of ‘Brazilian mysticism.’ Luckily, that didn’t last long, and post-Crisis she returned as a former model and showgirl who became a secret agent for the Brazilian government. An accident on the job with a substance called pyroplasm endowed her with the ability to exhale green fire, because comics. She named herself Green Fury, then Green Flame, and joined the Global Guardians, an international team of superheroes funded by the UN.
When the UN withdrew funding from the Global Guardians in favor of the newly-formed Justice League International, Bea and her best friend Tora Olafsdotter (Icemaiden II) signed up with the latter. Soon after, they changed their names to Fire and Ice, and Bea got a major power up that enabled her to turn her whole body to green fire, fly, and shoot fiery blasts from her hands. Bea served the longest continuous term of any JLI member, even through Tora’s death, which devastated Bea.
With the dissolution of the JLI, Bea joined up with Checkmate, a cloak-and-dagger UN-sponsored agency dedicated to monitoring metahuman activity. There she was blackmailed by Amanda Waller, Checkmate’s White Queen, into performing covert assassinations in order to cover up her father’s past war crimes. Eventually she agreed to turn her father over to the authorities instead.
Bea has currently teamed up with several old JLI teammates (including a resurrected Tora) and their successors to track down their former-friend-gone-rogue Max Lord in Justice League: Generation Lost.
So What’s So Great About Her?

Like all of the characters associated with the banter-y, lighthearted Justice League International, Bea is often dismissed as a goofy joke character. She spent the late 80s trading quips with the likes of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, gleefully showing off skin in what’s now a hilariously dated outfit, and dragging the much less brazen Tora into zany situations.
Of course, later issues of Justice League America, post-Tora’s death, showed a deeper side of her, as she struggled with her grief and her confused feelings about Tora, original Icemaiden and new teammate Sigrid Nansen, her own sexuality, and a budding relationship with Tora’s former lover Guy Gardner, who she’d previously hated. And a follow-up miniseries by the original JLI creative team, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, delved deep into Bea’s anguish, still painful after all these years, when she encountered what may or may not have been Tora in what or may not have been Hell (and the miniseries itself may or may not have been canon). But she’s still JLI, and JLI characters still tend to get painted with the ‘comical failure’ brush.
The recent Checkmate series, though, and the current Generation Lost show a radically different Bea than JLI one: a woman who has been trained to kill since childhood, a woman who will use her incredibly destructive power or her bare hands to commit murder in order to protect a father who does not deserve her loyalty. This Bea struggles with the balance between superhero and government agent, but internally; no pyrotechnic outbursts for her.
While the Checkmate characterization may seem like a drastic departure from earlier depictions of Bea, a lot of it was already present in the character. She’s had the secret agent backstory almost from the beginning, she’s always been more complex than she lets on, and she’s always has loyalty in spades. It’s the tone of the book (and the dialing-down of Bea’s flamboyant, temperamental personality) that makes her seem so different. And heck, she has reason to be down at least five of her oldest and dearest friends had just kicked the bucket at the time, one going evil along the way.
Now with the JLI reunited, I’m calling for a return of the brash, hot-tempered, breezily sensual Bea of the JLI but afforded the kind of respect characters like the competent, conflicted Bea of Checkmate get. After all, her power set is basically identical to Marvel’s Human Torch, and people take him (reasonably) seriously. Why not Bea?
At her core, Bea’s a bright, flashy character with a deep love of life, and a ton of fun to read. She’s got a sense of humor; she’s got a temper; she’s got a healthy dose of self-confidence. And now, thanks to Checkmate, she’s got a level-up in badass Checkmate and that’s only fitting. Because at the end of the day, Bea, like her JLI fellows, can be silly and flawed and painfully human but she’s still a superhero, and she can still kick all kinds of ass.
Notable Appearances:
As mentioned above, Bea served the longest term on the Justice League International. Her branch was renamed Justice League America with issue #26.
Justice League International v1 #12-25
Justice League America #26-113
Martian Manhunter #10
Formerly Known as the Justice League
I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League
Checkmate v2 #1-31 (especially #11-12, which reveal the backstory with her father)
Bea is currently co-starring in Justice League: Generation Lost.