As I was reading USA Today's discussion of the upcoming spy thriller Salt, and Angelina Jolie's starring role in it, I was reminded how much I love the femme fatale, a major archetype in The Supervillain Book and a leading lady in my next project.
Celebrated in media from the comics to Hollywood blockbusters to tabloid pages, the femme fatale (“deadly woman” in French) is adept at love, warfare, and the psychological arts. From their earliest incarnations in history (from Cleopatra to Mata Hari), these women have exuded power: Their strength and sex appeal lure the most unsuspecting male victims, as these seductresses skillfully balance pleasure and pain, intimacy and contempt. Heavily associated with the hothouse eroticism of film noir and today’s graphic novel, the femme fatale's nuances are many, but her most basic characteristic is duplicity. We see this concept reflected most basically (even superficially) in the good-girl blonde versus bad-girl brunette of Salt’s persona.
The comics creators have long been writing about duplicitous female characters. Going way back to early days of comics—anyone remember the Golden Age Rose and Thorn?
The Thorn—not to be confused with the Modern Age anti-hero of the same name—was one of the most bristly babes to shake up the pages of Golden Age (1938–1954) superhero comics. Penned by Robert Kanigher and rendered by Joe Kubert, she first blossomed in Flash Comics #89 (1947) as Rose Canton, a botanist student with a latent split personality. While studying the flora of Tashmi Island, Rose discovers that the toxins produced by an indigenous thorn alter her physiology, granting her toughened skin and a limited form of superspeed. The revelation ignites her dormant schizophrenia, sprouting two distinct personalities: the docile Rose (a blonde) and the thunderous Thorn (a redhead). As a chief antagonist of the Flash, the villainess became the proverbial thorn in the super-speedster’s side, often appearing in a whirlwind of green smoke or a tornado of thorns. . . .
Comparisons of Salt to the serial spy drama Alias are “inevitable,” perhaps—as are discussions of Jolie vis-à-vis Mrs. Smith, Emma Peel, Nikita, Sarah Connor, and other assassins/spies/ninjas—in the months to come. And the action film's underlying concept—which appeals to women who resonated with the influx of bad girl flicks several years ago—touches on the question I asked at my book signing the other day, In this age of identity theft, how will you mastermind your own identity?
Causes Gina Misiroglu Supports
Doctors Without Borders, American Cancer Society, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund