March is Women’s History Month and Back to the Past is celebrating by looking back on the longest-running comic book leading ladies of all time! We’ve got someone from Marvel, someone from DC (you can probably guess who), and a duo from the oldest independent publisher still in the game.
Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat
Who’s the longest-running female character at Marvel Comics? Hellcat. Millie The Model ran for more issues back in the day, but Hellcat’s had the staying power to keep headlining the occasional series right up into the present day. But here’s the catch: most of her success was before she was a superhero!
From 1944 to 1967, Patsy Walker was Marvel Comics’ answer to Archie Andrews. She was an average teenage girl who got into hijinks with her friends, her best guy, and her romantic rival. Marvel’s Silver Age success with superheroes pushed her off the publishing slate, but she still had her fans. One such fan was writer Steve Englehart, who gave her a costume and superpowers in the pages of The Avengers. That let her stick around long after the “romantic teen comedy” genre had faded from mainstream popularity.
- Miss America Magazine #2 (1944), 1st appearance.
- Avengers #144 (1976), 1st appearance as Hellcat.
- Defenders #89 (1980), full origin revealed.
- Hellcat #1 (2000), 1st solo title as Hellcat.
Betty & Veronica
Debuting in early Archie stories as the objects of his teenage affections, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge have been around since the earliest days of the Golden Age. Archie stories quickly settled into a groove of the redhead from Riverdale alternately trying to impress the girls and trying to choose between the two. The sheer weight of their frequent appearances developed their characters and grew them in popularity.
In 1950, pair of friendly rivals earned their own ongoing series. It would run alongside Archie’s mag, which continued to feature his best girls, for sixty five years. Even in the modern age of self-aware Archie Comics, the duo remains inseparable.
- Pep Comics #22 (1941), 1st Appearance of Betty Cooper.
- Pep Comics #26 (1942), 1st appearance of Veronica Lodge.
- Archie’s Girls Betty & Veronica #1 (1950), 1st issue of their spin-off.
- Betty & Veronica #261 (2012), 1st appearance of Vampironica and Betty The Vampire Slayer.
With 800 issues to her name, Diana of Themyscira is the undisputed queen of female superheroes. Heck, few superheroes in general can match those numbers without fudging their numbers. Created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter in 1941, their goal was to create a super heroic role model of femininity for girls and boys alike.
They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams! Wonder Woman became the ONLY female character at DC to earn a solo series for a long, long time. That series was one of only three such superhero titles at the company to survive the genre’s post-war loss of popularity. She has starred in an iconic TV series, multiple animated movies, and two blockbuster films. Plus, she’s been a key member of the Justice League across comics, television and film. When people think “female superhero”, they think “Wonder Woman”.
- All-Star Comics #8 (1941), 1st appearance.
- Wonder Woman #1 (1942), Solo title debut.
- All-Star Comics #12 (1947), 1st team-up with Batman & Superman.
- Wonder Woman #178 (1968), “New” Wonder Woman revamp.
And Many More!
Jean Grey, Black Canary, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, even AC Comics’ FemForce have decades of history behind them and legions of fans. You can devote a whole collection to any one of them and be hard-pressed to run out of stuff for it.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know below or on social media @b2pcollect. And when you decide it’s time to part with that collection, Back to the Past Collectibles is the place to go first. We can help you get a handle on the collection’s value and bring it to market for you!