Does real life imitate art, or does art imitate life? At Quirk Books we say, “Who cares, let’s have both!” That’s why our catalog includes Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers as well as The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from the History of Comics. And being that it’s Wonder Woman Week, we can’t help but wonder if the women featured in those two books would enjoy meeting each other and going on adventures and stuff.
Wonder Women illustrations by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Sisters in Spycraft: Sarah Emma Edmonds Meets Senorita Rio
One disguised herself as a soldier to fight for the cause, then became a spy who infiltrated behind enemy lines using multiple disguises and identities and surviving gunshots, broken bones, malaria, and heavy ordinance. The other was a comic book heroine! Sarah Emma Edmonds masqueraded as a man to enlist in the Union army during civil war. After multiple battles she stepped up to conduct espionage, undercover as both woman and man. The military never discovered her initial deception until she revealed it years later. We’d love to hear her swap stories with Seniorita Rio from Fight Comics (1942). Also known as the Queen of Spies, she was an actress named Rita Farrar who faked her own death so she could harass the Nazis. Disquises, forged documents, sword fights, and jiu-jitusu were all in a day’s work for the Senorita. But if she ever had to don a male disguise, we’re sure Edmonds could give her some good pointers.
Kicking Ass in the Old West: Marie Equi Meets the Black Phantom
Life on the American frontier was not for the faint of heart, but Marie Equi was a tough cookie even among the pioneer folk. In one famous incident, a local preacher withheld some money he owed to Marie’s girlfriend, so she whaled on the guy with a horsewhip until he cried uncle. (The townsfolk cheered the whole thing, they hated the dude too). We imagine this vigilante justice would attract the admiration of Black Phantom, a bandit-turned-masked lawwoman from Tim Holt comics (1951) who could out-shoot, out-fight, and out-think any hombre this side of the Rio Grande. They might swap whipping and shooting tips, and Marie—one of the first female doctors in Oregon—could patch up the Phantom after she tussled with some desperados.
Masters of the Sky: Bessie Coleman Meets The Wing
The world’s first black aviatrix—and a pilot two years before Amelia Earhart—Bessie Coleman aced her ten-month flying course three months early (though she had to go to France to do it). She went on to become a death-defying barnstormer, insisting that her performances not be segregated and giving lectures to encourage African-American youth to train as pilots. Sadly, her amazing life was cut short during a test flight, when an engine malfunction spelled doom for her and her mechanic. But in the world of comics death is never certain, so let’s envision a story in which Bessie survives, and later in life becomes a mentor to Trixie Rogers, a.k.a. The Wing (Joke Comics, 1942). Perhaps Bessie has come to inspect the airplane factory where Trixie works, and teams up with The Wing to rout some wartime saboteurs. Sure, Trixie has a magical cape that enables her to fly…but she’s bound to become a better flier with the aeronautical guidance of a pioneering aviator.
To Infinity and Beyond: Mary Sherman Morgan Meets Gale Allen and the Girl Squadron
Modern rocketry would never have gotten off the ground without Mary Sherman Morgan, who created the fuel that propelled America’s first satellite into orbit before there was even a NASA. So it seems fitting that a convenient time warp might put her in contact with Gale Allen, a Flash Gordon-style space hero who commands her own interplanetary Girl Squadron in the future year of 1990 (as imagined in 1940’s Planet Comics). Surely Gale’s squad of ray-gun wielding trouble-shooters could use someone whose mind is nimble enough to formulate a mixture of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine and diethylenetriamine. Plus Mary’s biography, written by her son George, is titled Rocket Girl, so we be she’d feel right at home planet-hopping among the stars.
Fearless Healers: The Blackwell Sisters Meet The Smith Sisters
Women make up about half of all medical students these days. But when Elizabeth Blackwell applied, the percentage was…wait, is zero a percent? Nevertheless, she persisted, and in 1849 became the first woman in America to earn a medical degree. Her sister Emily didn’t have it any easier, but earned her MD in 1854. Together the pair started a medical college that trained more than 400 female physicians by the turn of the twentieth century. No doubt they’d be impressed by Sue and Sally Smith, the “Flying Nurses” who first appeared in the comic My Secret Life in 1962. True, the Smith sisters aren’t doctors. And they don’t literally fly; they travel to war zones and disaster areas by plane or helicopter, coolly parachuting into danger without a second thought. Besides providing emergence medical care—sometimes while at gunpoint—they assist in surgery, provide vaccinations to underserved communities, and dish out stern lectures to military despots and clueless doctors alike. How would the Blackwells cross a gulf of 100 years to team up with the Smiths? We’ve leaned on time travel once already, so let’s say….a wizard did it?
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