The other day, we learned our first precious hints about the characters who'll appear in Joss Whedon's new TV show about the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But we also know two things: 1) The show will have to include some glimpses of the Marvel Universe beyond S.H.I.E.L.D. 2) Joss Whedon loves poweful women.
So here are 10 tough-as-adamantium women from Marvel Comics that Whedon ought to have as guest stars.
Note: The women on this list aren't A-list heroes — who would be harder to feature without jumping through a ton of hoops. They're not part of the supporting cast of a major hero who already has a movie series, like Spider-Man or Iron Man. By and large, they don't have superpowers, because we're guessing the tone of Whedon's show will be more grounded and less "heat rays coming out of people's eyes." These are women we love, who could plausibly interact with S.H.I.E.L.D. at some point.
1) Misty Knight and Colleen Wing
These two women ran Nightwing Restorations, a detective firm, and later restarted Heroes for Hire, Iron Fist's old superhero temp agency. They're basically like the female counterparts to Power Man and Iron Fist, whom they spent a lot of time hanging out with. Misty is a former cop with a bionic arm and a strong will — as villains who've tried to mind-control her have found out. And Colleen is a trained samurai who's the rightful leader of the Nail, the female assassin squad run by the ninja organization the Hand. Together, they team up to fight crime, hunt down missing superhumans, and solve mysteries. You could easily see how they could be hired as consultants for S.H.I.E.L.D.
2) Queen Divine Justice
One of my all-time favorite characters, Queen Divine Justice is Chanté Giovanni Brown, a teenager from Chicago who doesn't realize she's the last remaining heir to a proud Wakandan dynasty. She's sort of a "confrontational spoken word artist" in the vein of Lacey Thornfield from The Middleman — she's always lecturing the ice-cream-truck guy about Congressional redistricting. In one particularly great storyline, she meets the Incredible Hulk, mid-rampage — and takes him clubbing while giving him some hilarious consciousness-raising. She and the Hulk wind up being fast friends. She has no superpowers, other than special Wakandan boots and some non-lethal guns.
3) Dakota North
She's a private investigator who can handle herself in any kind of scrape — but she's also the daughter of a superspy who left behind a ton of secrets and questions. So it makes total sense that Dakota North would find her path crossing S.H.I.E.L.D.'s at some point. Her 1986 miniseries (written by Martha Thomases) is basically non-stop crazy fun, with Dakota wreaking mayhem on five continents while fending off lots of suitors. She's constantly giving off with the witty quips, as she moves among the high-fashion crowd as well as the espionage elite. Lately, she's had a recurring role in Daredevil's comic, but Marvel probably hasn't sold the rights to her to anyone.
She's a freelance spy who works for the highest bidder, and even S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't been able to find out who she is or what her origins are. She first appeared in Master of Kung Fu back in the early 1980s, but has popped up a lot in recent years — often working for Misty and Colleen. She's the master of the double cross, tricking people into thinking she's working for them when she's actually running a sting operation. Plus she's liable to change sides in the middle of a job, if someone else offers her more money. Basically, an amoral rogue with awesome fighting and spy skills. (She's the "sassy spy" holding Power Man and Iron Fist's strings, in the cover at left.)
5) Mercedes Merced
She's a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who started her organization, the laconically titled Org. And her main operative is the super-lethal martial artist Taskmaster — who's her husband but doesn't remember being married to her because every time he learns new martial arts skills he forgets everything else. Mercedes operates from the shadows, often pulling off long cons and going undercover for long periods in her quest to defeat the supervillain organization MILF — yes, that's really its name.
6) Monica Rambeau
Okay, so she's more of an A-list hero that most of the others on this list, since she was in the Avengers and went by Captain Marvel at one point. And she's got superpowers and stuff. But mostly, we want Monica to pop up in the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show in some form or another, because maybe then Marvel will see the light and give us a new Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. comics series by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen. Maybe the whole Nextwave team, of misfit superheroes and obscene robots and stuff. The thing I love about Monica, especially as portrayed by Ellis and Immonen, is that she's seen all of this crap at least five times, and she's just going to roll up her spandex sleeves and deal with whatever it is she's facing this week.
7) One-Eyed Jacquie
She teams up with a guy named Ace to form a two-person team called Blackjack. Her finest moment probably comes when she faces down an alien invader with a totally fake Ultimate Nullifier — and it works! (See panels at left.) Basically, she's got a big spade on her eyepatch, and she's really good at bluffing. What's not to like about that? Also, she faces down a giant sea monster named Terminus, armed with a kind of glue gun. She also tricked Ultron, who had taken over Avengers Mansion, by using holograms to make the computer think Earth's mightiest heroes had returned.
8) Elsa Bloodstone
She's basically like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with a few more daddy issues. The daughter of monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone, she inherited his mystical Bloodstone Choker, which protects her against supernatural harm. She also has a djinn in a bottle that serves as an early warning system for supernatural threats. In her short career thus far, she's faced down Dracula, Nosferatu, some mummies and a plot to infect vampires with a virus that would mutate them into a food supply for the evil Nosferati. She's friends with Frankenstein's monster and has a vampire lawyer as her confidant. She was another member of Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., too.
9) La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine
She's sort of an obvious choice, since she's frequently a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics — if you read the old Steranko comics, or the various S.H.I.E.L.D. series that came out in the 1980s or 1990s, "Val" is one of the main supporting characters. She's frequently a love interest for Nick Fury, but there's no need for that to be the case here. In any case, Val is one of the most fun S.H.I.E.L.D. characters — she's a femme fatale who kicks Nick Fury's ass the first time she meets him (at left.) And she's always written as sort of a sophisticated Sophia Loren type, who says things like, "Do you suppose you'd be the same, after a trip to hyper-space?" (I don't suppose so!)
10) Jessica Jones
This is cheating somewhat, since Jessica Jones was already slated to star in her own TV show — which is probably in limbo now. But maybe if she guest-starred in Whedon's new show, she could eventually get her own spin-off? And she'd be perfect as a cynical, bitter operative who works for the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew on assignment. In the comics, she's now married to Luke Cage and they have a child together, but we could meet a somewhat younger, more bitter version, like in Brian Michael Bendis' Alias series — someone who's left the superhero world behind, but keeps getting pulled back into it.
Additional reporting by Amanda Yesilbas.