Haven’t done one of these in a while! The first two contributed by my drift partner because these things are important.
5. Annabelle Riggs (Fearless Defenders)
Fearless Defenders was a 12-issue comic that ran for most of 2013 and was touted as an all-female team, and it was great. Then Marvel canceled it because no one was buying it and I hate everyone for it, because it was wonderful and I loved it. Anyway. Annabelle Riggs was a character created specifically for the comic, pitched originally as a female Indiana Jones-type but with less field experience and more theory-spouting. She was clever, brave, and loyal, and also a lesbian, as we learned in issue #1 with this panel, when she kisses Valkyrie as a thank you for rescuing her (and also because she is hot tbh). Her feelings for Valkyrie continue to be an explicit theme of the comic for the next five issues, until Valkyrie is transformed into the Doom Maiden of rage (it’s a long story) and almost destroys an entire village before Annabelle is able to stop her with the power of love. And then she’s killed because nothing can ever be nice in comics ever. Granted, within the next couple of issues Valkyrie is able to rescue her soul from Valhalla, but only on the condition that her lifeforce merges with Valkyrie’s and they share the same body. I know it’s stupid, just go with it. So basically, Valkyrie and Annabelle switch back and forth every so often and only one of them can be available at a time. I was glad she wasn’t dead anymore, but are you fucking kidding me that is ridiculous. She did get a new girlfriend in issue #11, but we didn’t get a lot of time to see them together. And then the series got canceled and we haven’t heard anything about her since, so I presume that she’s just hanging out in Valkyrie’s body and not getting panel time. Whatever. Maybe the new Thor and Valkyrie will get together, since Odinson is off pouting to himself. Like I said, I love this comic with all my heart but I still think this was one of the worst subplots I’ve ever read, and I read Ultimates.
4. Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly, Warehouse 13)
To be fair to Warehouse 13, it was doing so many good things before season 4. It was a story about a team of misfits who worked together to find and retrieve magical artifacts and keep the world safe, and it featured a variety of well-written female characters who were all distinct, interesting people. It also featured a male-female partnership that was explicitly non-romantic. So I’m not really sure what happened, but season 4 sent Myka’s character development down a path she never recovered from. The first red flag was in 4×04, when she is “whammied” by a wish-granting artifact that Pete accidentally uses to wish himself a family, and she got magicked pregnant. It’s established in the first season that Myka doesn’t want kids, and in this episode she panics and expresses a great deal of distress over being pregnant. Pete, to his credit, is apologetic and horrified that he’s caused his friend distress, but in general it’s a weird episode that plays up the magic pregnancy for laughs and doesn’t really pause to acknowledge Myka’s unhappiness (it is undone by the end of the episode, thank goodness). Then somewhere in the back half of the season, Myka finds out she has ovarian cancer. She is terrified and decides to keep it a secret from the rest of the team, but because this is television Pete finds out and acts all pouty because she never told him about it. And then in the season finale, we see her deciding to go in for surgery and it’s left on a cliffhanger. Then…she’s perfectly fine in 5×01, and it’s hardly mentioned again. It was lazy, cheap dramatics, in a season that already had too many subplots. Finally, season 5 was a disgraceful embarrassment in pretty much every way, but especially when it came to the sudden introduction of ~Pyka~. (I am incapable of writing it without the sarcastic tildes.) From the beginning of the show, Pete and Myka had been work partners, and some of their dynamic was a bit standard (think Beckett and Castle) but the difference was that Myka never showed a hint of romantic or sexual interest in him, and his flirting with her quickly petered out into a genuine fondness and respect. They referred to each other as brother and sister, sharing a very close bond that is scarce on television between different-gender partners, and it was lovely. Until, of course, the network interfered and demanded a romantic subplot because, well, apparently the Myka/HG storyline the writers accidentally wrote was too gay or something. So in the final season, we went from watching coworkers who had a deep platonic bond to watching a pair of teenagers who danced around each other like they had suddenly become aware of each other’s sexuality. There is literally a flashback scene in the final episode that they invented to pretend like the “sexual tension” had been there all along (it hadn’t) and their realizations that each is in love with the other come across less like important personal revelations and more like the confession is being dragged out of them against their wills. The big confession scene is hollow and false, especially since we know Joanne Kelly has been against ~Pyka~ since season 2 and it’s likely she was hating every romantic scene she had to film. And the worst part of it is that Myka, in the beginning of the show, is reeling from the death of her fiance (Sam) and attempting to throw herself into work to get over it. It is over the first four seasons that she learns to trust her fellow Warehouse agents and open up to them; they become a family. Her storyline is about love, but it’s not the kind of love we’re used to seeing showcased in fiction, and she barely expressed interest in getting together with any other guys after she had properly grieved for Sam. (Her story with HG was as much a surprise to her as to the writers, I think.) She had become strong on her own and she had become strong because of her love for her family, but to suddenly throw her into a romance at the end that she’s never expressed interest in before really cheapens it all. It was framed as being about Pete’s wishes more than hers (incidentally, the entire finale is all about him and his problems and how he can’t handle that the Warehouse is self-destructing and did I mention that Pete has never been the central character in this show because he hasn’t), and it was horrible and gross and upsetting and bad writing.
3. Myrcella Baratheon (Nell Tiger Free, originally Aimee Richardson, Game of Thrones)
So remember how in the books Arianne and the Sand Snakes are on Team Myrcella? Because in Dorne they put girls in the lineage based on their age, not after all the boys, so by Dornish law Myrcella should have the throne before Tommen, and also the Martells are still not on Team Lannister but Myrcella is a nice girl and beloved of Trystane and by all accounts cleverer than Tommen anyway so she’d theoretically be a better baby monarch? Remember how in the books Arianne exists and is all big-sisterly toward Myrcella? Remember how in the books Ellaria is like “no, please stop all this murdering”? Remember how in the books they didn’t make a shitshow of the entire Dornish storyline? This is a hill I will die on too but they still have chances to redeem themselves. I’ve even thought of a way they could semi-retcon Arianne in. They won’t do that particular thing but they might do the rest. In any case, though, I would settle for that timeline for poor sweet Cella right now even though it’s not exactly sunshine and puppies for her on account of, you know, the maiming and all, and it might eventually go to shit. She’s still breathing, though. And I mean, I guess I understand why her being murdered was the logical conclusion of what the show did, so I’m not exactly angry about it in the same way as the thing I’m about to talk about, but I am angry about it. Cella deserves a timeline not pseudomedival in nature, where she can be adorable and happy and not be thwarted for it. I’m not sure exactly what, but she’s got the air of a coming-of-age story about her.
2. Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram, Game of Thrones)
Shireen’s murder, however, I am furious about. Because unlike Cella, who might at least in death be a catalyst for something or another (somewhat like poor Lyanna Stark? Certainly like Elia and Rhaenys Targaryen by way of Martell), Shireen’s death served the purpose of making the audience aware of the fact that Stannis [Stephen Dillane] was a crappy person. (Because Renly’s murder, the subsequent other people’s murders, hadn’t done that already? I don’t really know. But some people were late to hop on the “Stannis is crap” train.) It also sparked a chain of events including Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) offing herself and many of Stannis’ soldiers, and then Melisandre (Carice van Houten), abandoning him before he went to go fight the Bolton army, whereupon they were defeated horribly (therefore proving the futility of Shireen’s murder) and then Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) came along and murdered Stannis. Mind, I am thrilled that Brienne murdered Stannis. But the murdering of Stannis put Shireen’s own murder into perspective. It wasn’t done to further any plot, it was done to tie up what would otherwise be a loose end that served no purpose in the showrunners’ eyes once Stannis was out of the picture. And that? That is complete nonsense. Shireen is a sweet darling girl and I want her to live in a world where she can give literacy to anyone who wants it and be happy and alive and not overprotected and I don’t even care what the details are but maybe let’s facilitate actually sending this girl to school.
1. Kara Lynn Palamas (Maya Stojan, Agents of SHIELD)
The more I think about Kara the more I want to wrap around her protectively and hiss at any bad influence that comes near. And this is kind of a funny impulse on one hand, because we know virtually nothing about “real Kara,” what Kara was like before Hydra and then Grant Ward brainwashed her. (And I will argue till I’m blue in the face that the latter did that very thing. Abusive relationship, a la the Joker and Harley. Every single thing that Bobbi [Adrianne Palicki] said about what he was trying to do to her was true. Every. Single. Thing.) But I want to know that. I want — well, okay, back when there were rumors about a spinoff for Bobbi, I had two ideas. One is my crack-filled Bobbi and Lance (Nick Blood) flip houses premise. One is a road trip story of sorts where Bobbi and Lance, probably, would take off on some mission. In a convertible, because this is important. Along for the ride would be Kara (this premise was designed pre-finale, obviously, so I didn’t account for any of that baggage), trying to find herself again in the wake of everything (“are you sure this is the best for her, Bob?” Lance would ask. “Director’s orders, and besides, it’s no worse than the base,” Bobbi would shrug, though she privately had the same worry). An episode in, Lance would get murdered for reasons and Bobbi would be upset (not heartbroken, because she doesn’t love Lance because she’s aromantic, but upset, because she cares about him despite her better judgment) and then she and Kara would drive around the country like, having adventures and finding themselves and doing good agent things for those in need and probably developing a really lovely romantic friendship where they kiss even though it’s not love because Bobbi doesn’t do that and honestly Kara isn’t probably up for it but they still can enjoy each other and take comfort in each other and Bobbi would show Kara she’s beautiful no matter what or some sappy but true nonsense like that and Kara would get her mind back and all would be well. But barring that, I will gladly put Kara in any alternate timeline where she is granted agency and respect and adoration, because she deserves that, because having one’s agency taken and being disrespected and used as a thing of convenience instead of a person, especially by someone who claims to care about you, is one of the worst things in the world.
–your fangirl heroines.