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The greatest DC women of all time

Contributed by
Jan 22, 2019

January is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. The way we kick off a new year informs the months that follow and that's why we're living our best Capricorn-season lives and declaring it the Month of the GOAT, celebrating the Greatests of All Time in genre. From the best Star Trek captains to our favorite strong female characters, we're honoring the greats all month long.

Comics, as a medium, are responsible for some of the best and widely-known cultural icons genre has to offer, and it's impossible to list the most recognizable characters without a few names from DC Comics making it into the top five. From Batman to Wonder Woman, The Flash to Green Arrow, DC's output is legendary — there's a reason it's always listed, in tandem with Marvel as one of the "Big Two," after all. 

But DC isn't just responsible for giving us some of the best supers ever; it's also home to amazing fictional women who are heroes in their own right, without the advantage of any powers or abilities. If you want strong, badass ladies, then look no further than our latest GOAT list paying tribute to the much-deserving women of DC.

Amanda Waller

Amanda Waller

Anyone willing to place a kryptonite bomb in General Zod’s skull and not even bat an eyelash is THAT girl. Anyone who could pay their would-be assassin an additional $1 to take out the person who hired them is THAT girl. Amanda Waller is not to be played with and when you do make the foolish mistake of doing so you always end up getting played yourself. The Wall is one of the most if not THE most formidable women in DC. She may not have metahuman powers but she has all the metahumans she needs at her mercy. Amanda holds her own and then some in spaces that aren’t welcoming to women especially Black women. Amanda is mean, conniving, manipulative, intelligent, resilient, and a lover of a good whiskey. Her sheer existence makes her one of the greatest of all time. - Stephanie Williams

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Starfire

Introduced in 1980 as part of the roster of a New Teen Titans, Kori has been an underrated fan favorite for much of the last several decades, first in comics, now in various TV series. Known for her relative innocence and naivete but likewise, by a level of ruthlessness seldom seen in superheroes, Starfire has remained ever a paradox. Best known for her longtime relationship with Dick Grayson while in the Titans, Kori is much more interesting at her core than just her relationships. Her belief in polyamory makes her incredibly important, as sex positivity is rare among female characters in comics. Besides that, Kori is a loyal and dedicated friend, and she goes beyond and back for the people she cares for. Of all DC’s many characters, Starfire is one of the most important as a role model for young women, as the sense of balance required to maintain her philosophy in contrast to her occasionally violent actions is admirable. Besides, her unapologetically raw emotions are a thing seldom seen among stoic superheroes, and that’s part of why she stands out so much among DC’s roster and has remained a recurring character for decades. - Sara Century

Etta_Candy

Etta Candy

Etta Candy’s screentime in 2017's Wonder Woman was brief, but she had a lasting impact. The same can be said for Etta’s role in the comics, where she aided Wonder Woman and even saved children from Nazis. And if Chris Pine can return to the franchise then hopefully there is room for Lucy Davis as his no-nonsense secretary. She doesn’t even have to show up in 1984, but hopefully, there is more room for Etta Candy in the DCEU because not only is she loyal, she is also tenacious and offers up some much-needed body positivity in this franchise. Furthermore, she is excellent at offering outfit advice and wielding a weapon. What more could you want? - Emma Fraser

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Oracle

Barbara Gordon was fun as Batgirl. No one can deny that. However, after being shot in the spinal cord by the Joker in Batman: The Killing Joke, she becomes a paraplegic and has a new life as Oracle, computer expert, information maven and all around tech genius. It was wonderful to see a character who is differently abled and who has been through a tragedy reemerge as more powerful than ever before. When she was changed back to just Batgirl (and we do love Batgirl), it broke the hearts of so many fans who’s lives were changed by having a role model like this. The stories weren’t about how she struggled against her disability. They were about how amazing she was, and she just happened to be in a wheelchair. Oracle was a part of the bigger universe in comics, and she was unique in it. For a long time, she gave us one of the few examples of consequences that actually stick in comics and how to rise above difficulties in your life and move on. - Jenna Busch

Sara Lance

Sara Lance

The Arrowverse’s White Canary could easily have simply been Oliver Queen’s murdered girlfriend, and the bisexual defector from the League of Assasins could have easily been yet another tally mark in the ledger of "bury your gays." Instead, her revival from the Lazarus pit breathed literal new life into the character, giving her desire for a personal redemption story that allowed her to justify her own continued existence to herself. In that time she’s gone on to become the leader of the Legends of Tomorrow, saving not just a single city but all of reality over and over again, and kissing quite a few queens (as well as a particularly alluring time agent) along the way. While her origins may lie in television and not the comics, Sara Lance is still a high water mark for what DC characters can be. - Riley Silverman

Death DC Comics

Death

When you're an undying being more powerful than a god, you have a lot of time to perfect your style. Death, sister of Sandman and one of the Endless, doesn’t take this charge lightly, carefully cultivating her punk appearance. Layer on top of that the fact that Death is actually kind and perky and you’ve got one amazing personification of the end of life — and the beginning because life is cyclical, obvi. That’s not to say that that Death isn’t a heavy hitter. She’s the only one of the Endless to have ever scared the Furies and just might be the strongest bitch in the universe. You won’t catch Death bragging about her omnipotence or her omniscience, though, because she hates the way the other big guns are their own biggest fans. Death is the coolest, the most powerful, and the least obtrusive. Unless it’s your curtain call, in which case, she’s going to help you slip the mortal coil with kindness and grace. Long live, er, reign, Death! - S.E. Fleenor

renee

Renee Montoya

Our beloved Harley Quinn is not the only character introduced to comics via Batman: The Animated Series. Another was our girl Renee Montoya, who began as a cynical but surprisingly well-adjusted member of the GPD. As usual, once introduced to the comics, she became significantly grimmer. She co-starred in Gotham Central, enjoyed a brief but meaningful work partnership with a pre-Spectre Crispus Allen, was outed as a lesbian by an obsessive Two-Face, and quit the force entirely to eventually become the new Question. Renee improved upon the legacy of the Question by actually listening to the answers and exhibiting greater moral flexibility and compassion. In 52 we discovered that she and Kate Kane had been an item in her early days on the force, and they remain one of the great ships of comics. Renee brings that good drama to our table, and it’s great. Although seldom given the spotlight she deserves, she remains highly entertaining even in a supporting role. This is someone that makes every story she’s in about 100% better just by walking in, saying three lines, then bouncing. We love you, Renee! - Sara Century

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Lois Lane

Don’t try to tell me that Lois Lane isn’t a hero. Lois has been there just as long as Superman, out on the streets of Metropolis doing her best to help her fellow man. She just used a pen or keyboard or camera as her weapons instead of super strength and eye lasers. In fact, you could say that Lois, in all her human vulnerability and stubborn refusal to back down even when Lex Luthor is basically dangling her over the edge of a skyscraper, is actually braver than the Man of Steel. I’m not saying you have to — but you could. In addition to her doggedness and her loyalty and her drive, Lois is also someone genuinely worthy of admiration. She’s a good journalist. Not just good at her job, but she believes in the power of good, proper journalism to do just as much good as the superheroes she’s surrounded by every day. She’s committed to a kind of morality to which many of us should aspire, even if her methods sometimes color a little outside the lines. - Tricia Ennis

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Mera

We're talking specifically here of the live-action Mera in last year's big-budget blockbuster Aquaman. She. Is. AWESOME. Mera is a diplomat who risks her life to maintain peace with the surface world when her fiance decides to rule the world. Thanks to the legacy of Aquaman's mom Atlanna, we know what happens to women who transgress arranged marriages in Atlantis, and so we know exactly what Mera risks to preserve peace. She is brave, and holy hell is she powerful. I still don't understand why she isn't the Ocean Master, because she can control all water and doesn't need a fancy fork to do it. Mera is at least as powerful as Arthur Curry, but do you see her trying to take over worlds or declaring herself Ocean Master? No. Because Mera has other sh*t to do, like "maintain peace" and "rebuild Atlantis" and "train Arthur for the job he is horribly unsuited for but for which I am the perfect candidate but do you hear me complaining about being passed over for leadership? No, because I have too much to do to get worked up about it." Mera is BUSY, y'all. - Sarah Marrs

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