This week, we lost our General. She who remade the world.
She who made something better.
For so long, Leia was our only hope.
I mourn her and will continue to do so, both the character and the actress who brought her to life, but I will not give up hope. I can’t. I have kids who need it. I need it. And while no one can fill the hole left by Leia’s loss, there are other powerful, strong, women out in the Geekosphere continuing her work, continuing to remake the world. The are creating a reality in which all women have advocates and allies. Where we are welcome to be who we are. Where we can live without fear.
Where we can be free.
Sam Wilson: Captain America #16 (Nick Spencer, Angel Unzueta, Szymon Kudranski, John Rauch)
Sam Cap is burnt out, and it’s no surprise, really. He’s dealt with a lot since his debut last year, most recently being blamed for the assassination of a Senator which was, in no way, shape, or form, his fault. With #givebacktheshield trending exponentially, his partner, “in every complicated, confusing-as-hell sense of the word,” (as she puts it) Misty Knight, decides it’s time for him to take a break. Because, comics, there is, of course, an emergency while he’s gone: female heroes and villains are showing up in sex videos and being harassed by a certain sector to the extent they can’t continue to live their lives. These ladies, to a woman, deny taking part in the recorded events, know their likenesses are being used to gratify male fetish. They are being violated.
They have all spoke up for themselves. They have all demanded justice.
No one believes them.
Except for Misty.
Despite the hero on hero conflict continuing around her, despite the death of a prominent Avenger, despite Cap’s absence, Misty makes these individual women her priority, whether they have been friend or foe. She gives them her time, her efforts, her shield, the shield. She risks her life to uncover the truth. And when she does find the culprit, she gives no quarter. She shatters the lies and gives all of the victims, hero and villain, human and Inhuman alike, their lives back.
“Don’t ever call me the woman behind the man,” she says at the end of the issue. “I got my own thing going on.”
That thing is making the world a more honest place, a place in which all women know they have one of their own as a champion should they need her. A champion who will empower them to become their own hero by any means necessary.
Hawkeye #1 (Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire)
Kate Bishop has gone out on her own. Moved to California, started a semi-legal PI agency, foiled the first bank robbery of her new life. Out from under Clint’s “tutelage,” Kate is free to remake herself, reinvent herself, to become anyone she wishes to be. She could ride her hero’s reputation to fame and fortune.
Not our Kate.
The first case she takes isn’t a high profile celebrity divorce nor a mystery on a film set.
The first mission of Kate’s new life? Helping college student Mikka get out from under a stalker.
Mikka is terrified to leave her house: anyone she encounters could be the perpetrator, every email a potential death threat. The only thing her university has done to aid her is “ban” him from responding to her articles in the school paper; he switches email and IP address and starts over again. The cops don’t think the stalker is a “credible threat.” Mikka gave up reporting and blogging for a time, hoping the stalker would forget about her (and any of you who have a passion know what it’s like to give it up) but to no avail.
She’s told she’s overreacting, being dramatic. No one believes her when she says the stalker has ruined her life.
No one except Kate Bishop. Who, like Misty, walks away from security, away from stability, away from glory, to help a single person desperately in need. A single woman in fear for her life.
Kate doesn’t stop until the job is done (there’s more to it than that, but that’s 1) spoiler-y and 2) a different part of the story arc). And she won’t ever stop.
Invincible Iron Man #2 (Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Marta Garcia)
Riri Williams is the new Iron… Person (I think they went with Iron Heart but that is not my favorite super name). I won’t go into the details of how the transition happened (see Spider-Man #10 if you’re curious) as I imagine some of you are even more behind in the stacks than I am, but Riri is now, of her own free will, most definitely, the Iron Person.
Why make that choice? Why risk her very young, very brilliant life flying around in a reverse engineered suit, dodging plasma blasts and super villains?
Because her friend Natalie was shot and killed in a drive-by.
Her step-father was killed in the same attack and just as randomly; while she mourns him, it’s Natalie’s death that has the most powerful impact, that changed Riri’s entire worldview. It’s the death of a girl that shocks Riri out of the bubble of her own mind, focuses her previously distracted genius, hones it with the drive not to avenge her friend, but to make sure what happened to Natalie doesn’t happen to anyone else. To make sure no other girl has to lose her best friend the way Riri herself did.
It isn’t a galactic war which motivates her, nor a Civil one. Neither the battle over predictive justice nor the problems facing every inhabitant of Earth.
It is the death of a single girl.
Our General is gone. She will never be forgotten nor her boots filled. But, my Geek sisters, she has not left us bereft, for she is no longer our only hope. Because we had Leia, we have Misty, Kate, Riri, Carol, Diana and so many others. Yes, some of these characters predate Star Wars but there is no denying Leia’s part in their development, growth, expression, and bad-assery over the years. In their survivorship.
In the sisterhood of heroes.
It falls to them to carry on her legacy and so to us as fans and readers, as writers and artists and filmmakers.
Where once there was one, now there are many.
And we aren’t going anywhere.