Opinions of a Female Comics Fan I like the stories, the action, the characters and the art. To be a truly awesome book it has to have all four for me.
The thing is the editors don't really care about female readership at all, which is quite sad. Books that have a high female readership like Runaways or Spiderman Loves Mary Jane or Batwoman often get cancelled even though other comics that stay on are less popular, (Hitmonkey, Gorillaman anyone?). It's a little depressing. Lots of girls read manga digests. I think American comics marketed to girls might get more success in the digest format than the single issue formats, but no one really cares it seems. Sales of single issue comics don't necessarily indicate a comic's popularity with girls in my opinion. Lots of girls I know who like X-men got hooked via the cartoon show. Some other girls I know who are into X-men say it's like a soap opera with ass kicking and powers thrown in. The best fights and plots are ones that reveal something about the character, where the external conflict in some way mirrors or exacerbates an internal conflict. I recently read Uncanny X-men #325 and I think that's a really good example of this sort of character based story telling, where you have Storm dealing with her unease with what went on between her and the Morlocks in the past, and how she may or may not have failed them, while at the same time fighting the new generation of Morlocks (Gene Nation) who want revenge on all baseline humans, because they blame them for the Mutant Massacre that occurred ten years ago. The more angsty the characters the get, the better in my opinion.
I also like when characters wear real-style clothing like in the Runaways and their clothes reflect their personalities, like Molly in the Runaways and her animal hats, which are playful because she is still a child.
One thing that really irritates me as a woman, is "fan service" style depictions of characters. Unfortunately, “fan service” in American comics is really only about the male comics fan. You know what I'm talking about, random upskirt drawings, or characters like Starfire in Teen Titans or Witchblade who are drawn like vacuous boobalicious babes, wearing the bare minimum of clothing, irregardless of how such characters are written. I also dislike artists like Frank Quietely and John Cassaday who make all the characters look really ugly.
I really like the strong, powerful female comic book heroines. I never liked reading fashion magazines when I was a teenager. I guess I figured if I was going to pick an unattainable female role model to emulate, why not one who had flight and super strength and a sexy Cajun boyfriend, like Rogue. Female characters who are always drawn in skimpy or s and m style costumes like Psylocke, Emma Frost, Sage and the Goblin Queen
and male characters who are ultra-muscley and/or agressive (the Hulk, Thor, Thunderbird, Collossus) seem to get a lot of page space in the books because they are really popular with the guys. I find these characters distasteful for the same reasons the male audience sometimes finds them cool.
Personally I don't see why Joe Quesada, the head honcho at Marvel, couldn't take Spiderman being married and having a kid. It showed a lot of personal immaturity, when he retroactively erased Spiderman’s marriage to Mary Jane in the comic. My worst pet peeve though isn't the scantily clad babes, but writers who disrespect the characters they are writing. I think you should love the characters if you're going to take a job on a book. You shouldn't take it just to see how much you can screw with the characters and make them as different as possible. Change is necessary or you end up like Archie comics, but it has to come from the core of the character and what drives him or her. I am very wary of so-called superstar writers like Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon writing X-men , because I feel like in their runs on the comic they felt like they had to put their own personal stamp on the X-men, regardless of if what they wrote actually suited the characters' personalities. The whole secondary mutation BS and Cassandra Nova stuff and Scott getting it on with Emma and cheating on Jean completely turned me off X-men for years. I'm not too keen now on Rogue not having her strength or flying powers or Xavier being able to walk. What made those characters really cool, was the contrast between their powers and their personalities. Rogue was a physically invulnerable woman, who was exceptionally vulnerable emotionally. With Xavier you have the world's most powerful telepath who can do virtually anything with his mind, but very little with his body. (Sort of like Stephen Hawking). Those contrasts were what made the characters so sympathetic and vital and were essential to their characterization in my opinion.
As was Scott's relationship with Jean. Scott was someone who could be extremely commanding on the battlefield, but inept and shy when it came to relationships. His big thing is that he's afraid of his powers hurting someone he loves. Once you take that away, (i.e. Emma can't be hurt by him because she has diamond skin) then you lose what makes him intriguing. The thing about X-men and the Runaways that a writer must realize is that they are not comics about heroes fighting villains. The primary conflict in these books is often between the team members themselves as they try to work together. It is a delicately balanced thing to write, because no one wants to read about people arguing with each other all the time, but if they are all fighting perfectly as a cohesive unit, then that doesn't allow for much character development.