It is no secret that Canadians are under represented in the mainstream comic book world, with perhaps the exception of Marvel Comics, which has a significant amount of Canadians in their Universe, besides their Canadian superteam Alpha Flight (although most of the females are in Alpha Flight).
And when it comes to female superheroes, they are a rare breed indeed all across, although Marvel can be commanded again for having a team that is more or less balanced in terms of genders and several of their team members do figure prominently in our little list.
While we try our best here at Heroes of the North to keep a balanced team with a healthy dose of kick ass heroines, we thought it would be cool to make a list of our top ten favourites.
Without further ado, here is our list of top ten Canadian female superheroes:
10. Lady Canuck:
This should be more an honourable mention more than anything but we could not even find ten real female Canadian superheroes! There are a few variations of Captain Canuck as a female floating around the web, apparently the result of some contest.
Writer Jeff Lemire is apparently creating a Cree superhero called Equinox for his Justice League of Canada book but since we have not yet read it, it is hard to pass judgement at this point. Definitely an odd costume choice though.
9. Marrina (Alpha Flight)
Marrina is from an alien species known as Plodex. Her egg was found by Tom Smallwood, a fisherman in Newfoundland, who gave it to his wife Gladys. When Gladys broke the shell she imprinted Marrina with Human female DNA. Marrina grew up mostly normal, except for her odd appearance. She came to the attention of Alpha Flight and was part of the team in the first incarnation and has been on and off ever since.
Being an alien, she has a complicated history (not to mention a cheesy origin) and her powers are more or less linked to water: she is an amphibian, able to swim at tremendous speeds and has limited control over water. She also secretes at will a substance that renders her attacker temporarily blind and has some shape shifting abilities.
Not the most interesting character but there are so few female Canadian heroes, she is worth a mention.
8. Talisman (Alpha Flight):
Yet another Alpha Flight Member, Talisman is the daughter of Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen aka Shaman, another member of Alpha Flight. She is an archeologist who focus on First Nations findings and artefacts. She has a strained relation with her father, who could not save her dying mother as a child, despite promising her he would. She has inherited some mystical powers and as a result, been forced to re-establish contact with her father. She is a reluctant superhero most of the time, one of the rare Alpha Flight members not trained by the Canadian government, and quite frankly, a bit of a First Nation cliché character.
7. Nanook (Northern Guard)
Created by our pal Ty Templeton because of rights issues in regards to Nelvana and therefore strongly reminescent of both Nelvana and Snowbird, Nanook Iluak is also an Inuit goddess, both powerful and somewhat at odds with the human woman she shares her form with. As Anne Knight, she is the romantic interest of Johnny Canuck in the story that was attempting to revive the old Canadian Golden Age heroes. While the characterization was very interesting and we would have like to see more of her, there is one thing that always stood out: the costume is silly, even for a northern goddess and despite the obvious Frazetta-esque inspiration… Sorry Ty!
6. Snow Bird (Alpha Flight):
Strongly inspired by Nelvana (her mother is Nelvanna - see how clever that is?), Snowbird is yet another Inuit demigodess with strangely blonde hair that shares a body with a human, she is a shape shifter destined to fight the mystical evil forces of the Ancients Ones. While not the worst character of its ilk - it falls prey to the typical cliché of First Nations characterization: make the character mystical and mysterious, throw in some primordial deities and call it a day. We have nothing against using religious symbols, rituals and deities but when it is almost the only thing that defines the character as First Nations, it is lazy. Characters are individuals, first and foremost and while being of First Nations will certainly influence who they are, wrapping that up with just a veneer of folkloric deities is an easy way out. That being said, SnowBird was given a few stories to shine in, especially during the John Byrne Alpha Flight run, hence why she runs fairly high in the list.
This very hard to find (and as far as we know) unfinished series started as a webcomic experiment by writer Mark Shainblum and PEI illustrator Sandy Carruthers. Unfortunately, most of the material has disappeared from the interwebs and they were never published per say. Having read most of the run, we can only go from memory but the story was quite convoluted, dealing with other dimensions and Canadiana was the embodiment of the “spirit” of Canada, with flight and super strength powers. It was an interesting experiment that strayed from the typical superhero fare while retaining some of its elements. The costume was definitely something refreshing and not your conventional female superhero outfit. Definitely a breath of fresh air.
Heather McNeil is the now estranged wife of James Hudson (Guardian), leader of Alpha Flight. She herself led Alpha Flight for quite a while, changing names and costumes a few times in the tenure and enjoys a similar power set than her husband, which includes flight and some level of enhanced strength amongst other things, courtesy of the technology in the costume developped by her husband.
4. Vindicator (Alpha Flight):
She is an interesting character because she is a take charge type of person, although the early incarnation made her also weirdly smitten by her scientist husband, she eventually grew on her own as a strong independant woman, until the character got mucked up in silly alternate universe and alternate histories timeline that kind of destroyed the potential of the character in our humble opinion. Hopefully down the line they will give her back some dignity.
3. Aurora (Alpha Flight):
Possibly the most interesting of all the female Alpha Flight characters, and not only because she has a split personality disorder, is French speaking (she is from Quebec), is a Marvel Universe mutant, has a twin (Northstar) and was raised by abusive Catholic nuns and separated in a young age from her brother.
Her powers consist of flight, superspeed and when she joins hands with her brother, they can create a bright flash of light for no particular reason, although it is useful to blind enemies.
Her multiple Personality Disorder is what makes her interesting. As Aurora, she is a carefree, sexually liberated woman with very little inhibitions. As Jeanne-Marie, she is a repressed, borderline bigot, conservative who is afraid of men and pretty much anything. The Jeanne-Marie personality seems to manifest itself in times of intense stress or fear, especially in restricted spaces as Aurora is claustrophobic.
2. Fleur-de-Lys (Northguard):
Yet another Canadian female superhero character created by Mark Shainblum, Fleur-de-Lys is an accomplished French Canadian martial artist that trains Northguard after his first not so successful adventure. She eventually takes the mantle and costume of Fleur-de-Lys and becomes sort of the unofficial sidekick of Northguard, a role she seems to relish and enjoy. Unfortunately, the character will never really fully reach its potential as the character was never further explored. It has also the distinction of being the sole female Canadian superhero to have its own Canada Post stamp.
1. Nelvana of the Northern Lights:
Adrian Dingle was inspired to create Nelvana of the Northern Lights after his friend, Group of Seven artist Franz Johnston, told him stories about the Inuit legends Johnston had learned during a trip to the Arctic. Putting his own spin on said legends, Dingle turned Nelvana into a superhero, and sent her off to fight Axis forces and Nazis (again, this was during the 1940s). How did Nelvana get her powers? Well, her father was a god, Koliak, King of the Northern Lights. Her powers include flight, immortality (being a half-goddess), super-speed, invisibility, and can call upon the powers of the Aurora Borealis to do other stuff.
Notable for being one of the first female superheroines (there was a few more obscure characters that made it before her but she did beat the amazon Wonder Woman by three months!)
So there you have it! What do you think of our list? Who is your favourite Canadian superheroine? Let us know in the comments below!