I grew up reading my Dad’s old comic books. I developed a deep love for superheroes, especially the X-Men, and became more passionate as I grew older, eventually investing in comics of my own. Superheroes inspire me to take risks and helped me to develop my self-confidence. Women in comics, while underrepresented, are incredibly strong and resilient figures. Three X-Men characters in particular were especially influential throughout my childhood.
1) Storm has been one of my favorite superheroes since day one. After being orphaned in Cairo, Egypt following a freak accident, she made her way to Kenya where she was taught to use her powers of weather control and was worshipped as a goddess. She was eventually discovered by Professor Xavier, founder of the X-Men. Storm returned to New York with Professor Xavier where she worked with the X-Men and eventually worked her way up and became their leader.
Storm has consistently been one of the strongest members of the X-Men group. She overcame growing up an orphan, moving to a new country, and taking on the responsibility of the other members of the X-Men team. Storm’s ability to take control of her life as well as responsibility for her fellow X-Men proves that women can be strong, successful leaders no matter the setbacks they may encounter.
2) Mystique has always been an intriguing character to me. She is neither a hero nor villain simply because everything she does, she does for herself. Because of this strong independence she has been labeled as an anti hero or criminal although she is not inherently “bad”. Mystique’s power is shape-shifting although she is also highly skilled in combat which makes her a dangerous adversary. Mystique’s shape-shifting abilities have allowed her to infiltrate the US government on multiple occasions which forced her to seek the asylum with the X-Men as she was labeled a terrorist.
Mystique is one of my top three favorite female superheroes not because she is a hero, but because she stands up for herself above all else. Mystique’s confidence in herself and her independence inspired me to take control of my own situations, and taught me that sometimes putting myself first isn’t the worst thing.
3) Kitty Pryde, otherwise known as Shadowcat, discovered her powers of phasing through solid matter when she was only thirteen. Kitty was so intelligent, that by the time her powers revealed themselves she was already enrolled in college courses, giving her an added level of maturity. The X-Men were able to convince Kitty’s parents to allow Kitty to live with the X-Men to pursue her training and Kitty soon became a vital part of the team, never letting her age get in her way.
While Kitty is by no means the most powerful member of the X-Men, she has acted as a role model for young girls. Because of her age, it is easy for young readers to relate to her, and she shows that girls can be intelligent and strong. Kitty was especially meaningful to me because she is identified as a Jewish character, which can be rare in the Marvel universe. Being able to watch Kitty grow up with the X-Men was influential because she showed that age doesn’t matter, and that young female characters can be as strong as any other character.