In the last decade we have seen an unprecedented resurgence of comic books into mainstream culture. The once niche market that many erroneously believed only appealed to the stereotypical image of the nerdy anti-social comic book fan has now become a full fledged pop culture phenomena.
Amped Asia knows a little bit of what it’s like to have what was once considered nerdy suddenly be cool. Most of what we are passionate about within Asian culture has suddenly now become cool like sushi, Asian characters for albeit terrible tattoos, K-pop, and the list goes on. And this might be hard to believe, but before we became the incredibly handsome, muscular, genius, shooting machine guns while riding dinosaurs badasses we are now, we too could be caught reading a comic book alone in our nerd hovels.
You see we were once/still are nerds. So that being said, with the comic book craze at arguably its zenith and Asian culture rapidly becoming more and more popular, we wanted to give a little love to some of the top Asian female super heroes in the Marvel Universe!
20) Lotus Shinchuko (Japanese)
With a name like Lotus Shinchuko, one kind of expects her to be the star of a weird “exotic far east” stag film than that of a character from the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu series. Wait, scratch that, her name sounds EXACTLY like what you would expect from that exploitative 1970’s comic book. The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu piggy backed off the kung fu movie craze of the times, giving us Lotus Shinchuko; a master of the martial arts who was as deadly as she was beautiful. She might not be the most well known character on our list, but can be seen making cameo appearances in the Marvel Universe, including working as a bodyguard for Luke Cage. Although seeing her maybe a bit of a rare treat, SWEEEET CHRISTMAS are they are treat!
19) Nancy Lu (Chinese)
Nancy Lu first started off as a member of a rival basketball team against Peter Parker’s own daughter, May “Mayday” Parker in Spider-Girl#23. After May Parker discovered that Nancy Lu had been using her mutant powers of telekinesis to win games, Lu would be convinced by Parker to use her powers for good. Soon she would establish herself as a hero, adopting the name Push, and offered an invitation to join a group called the X-People. Fortunately for Lu, it was a future incarnation of the X-Men and not a group of people really into going to raves.
18) Dust (Afghani)
Sometimes a little less is more, and although most of her is covered up, Dust is still one sultry super hero. A member of the X-Men and possibly the most modestly dressed comic book hero of all time, we respect Dust, AKA Sooraya Qadir’s decision to wear her niqab as a an X-Men, although we might not fully agree with it. You know, not at all because she is quite the looker underneath it all, but because.. freedoms, and Americas.. and women’s rights… yes..
17) Nico Minorou (Japanese)
Next up is our favorite gothic character from the Runaways, and no we don’t mean Joan Jett. We are talking about Marvel’s own Nico Minorou. To say this Goth sorceress has some unusual character traits, especially in a comic book universe, would still be an understatement. You see, Nico like many Goths we know loitering outside our local mall’s Hot Topic, has a bit of an emotional, clingy, and anti-social personality. However unlike most Goths we know, she has the ability to ACTUALLY control magic, cast spells, and even has a powerful magic staff appear out of her chest whenever she bleeds! Yup EVERYTIME SHE BLEEDS.
16) Omega Sentinel (India)
Unlike a lot of the other X-Women on our list, Omega Sentinel, AKA Karima Shapandar is one of the few members of the X-Men and later Excalibur, who is more or less human and not mutant at all. And we do mean more or less. You see Omega Sentinel, as her name would imply, actually started off as a human police detective in her native India, until she became a sleeper cell Sentinel agent thanks to Bastion of the Operation: Zero Tolerance program. This program, intended to hunt down all mutants across the United States, used nanite technology to augment her strength, speed, and reflexes to superhuman levels. It also equipped her with a bevy of powers including flight, regenerative abilities against damage, and built in cybernetic weapons which allow her to shoot energy blasts of radiation and electricity. She basically became a living human Sentinel however she chose to use her powers to help the X-Men rather than harm them. With all her doohickeys and power upgrades, it begs the question what other “enhancements” does she have? If she would like to test them, we will be waiting in the bedroom.
15) Honey Lemon (Japanese)
It’s fitting to have our #15 and #14 on this list following the release of Big Hero 6. Who better embody the rise of Asian culture with the rise of comic book nerd culture than two of the characters from this great animated collaboration from Disney and Marvel? A lesser known but still very popular Marvel comic book, this is one of the few series in the Marvel Universe with a mainly Asian roster. Little is known about Aiko Miyazaki, the secret agent/genius scientist known as Honey Lemon. But we do know she has a Power Purse, or Nano Purse, that contains miniature artificial inter-universe wormholes that can be used at her discretion. She is like a hot Felix the Cat, although we would be afraid to tell her that.
14) Gogo Tomago (Japanese)
Another member of Big Hero 6, Leiko Tanaka, better known as Gogo Tomago, was a tough as nails youth from the streets before she joined up with Big Hero 6. It was with this team that she channeled her aggression into mastering her voice activated battle suit which allows her to absorb and amplify kinetic energy into thermochemical energy. She can even transform her body into a spherical “powerball” during which she has near invulnerability and can hurl herself at enemies, clocking in at speeds of 185 miles per hour. And as long as Gogo doesn’t hurl herself at our balls at that speed or give us blue ones, we will continue our admiration for her.
13) Silk (Korean)
Basically the female Korean version of Peter Parker, this web slinging heroine shares much of the same origin story as her male counterpart, even the radioactive spider that gave them their powers. However unlike Peter Parker, she creates organic web from her finger tips and in our humble opinion has a much more appealing costume. Hey maybe we are biased, but we at Amped Asia would much rather be caught in her web. Sorry Pete.
12) Surge (Japanese)
This electrifying member of the New Mutants is quite the survivor. Hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun, she fled to America in her teens, living on the streets until the X-Men found her and brought her back to the X-Mansion. A former drug addict, she beat her addiction to become a promising member of the New Mutants, former leader of the New X-Men, and one of only 27 mutants that retained their powers after the events of House of M story arc.
11) Karma (Vietnamese)
Vietnamese mutant X’ian Coy Manh, better known as Karma, has the ability to take possession of the minds of other people and even animals. With this power she has the ability to change a victims’ perception of memories, command them, and basically take over their whole body to do her bidding. And as a member of the New Mutants and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., I am sure there are many fanboys out there who wouldn’t mind seeing her using those powers on say Maria Hill or one of the other hotties on our list. You know for national security and such.
10) Kabuki (Japanese)
Whenever we attempt to compile a list of pop culture icons, we understand a certain amount of our readers, will shall we say, “Voice their discerning opinions” on our entries. And by that I mean whine and bitch that we included/didn’t include their favorite character because of XYZ reason. Add in the fact that comics are especially rife with cannon/non-cannon and publication semantics our next entry may stir up some hullabaloo. The tragic yet beautiful tale of the young woman named Kabuki is a good example of this. Although she is not associated with the Marvel Universe per se, and was once an Image Comics property, she is now currently being published under Icon Comics, an imprint of Marvel. So now that that is cleared up we just wanted to include the masked mysterious heroine on our list because it is a pretty great read. So quit your bitching.
9) Black Widow (Chinese)
The original Black Widow is a classic, no question about that. So to be the follow up act to the widely popular Natasha Romanoff was no easy task, especially since her character has been so fully fleshed out so to speak, with the recent live action portrayal by Scarlet Johansson. But we here at Amped Asia think that the Monica Chang version of the Black Widow has done pretty well for herself. First off, she is the ex-wife of Nick Fury and that alone deserves entry onto this list. Think about what the “irreconcilable differences” must have been for that divorce. What is the alimony like? Who gets the Helicarrier nights, weekends, and every other Thursday? Anyway she even helped capture both the Punisher AND Captain America at one point. And she was the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D before Norman Osborn burned her face off. We haven’t seen an Asian do such a bang up replacement job since the Arnel Pineda era of Journey. Well done Chang, well done.
8) Colleen Wing (Japanese)
Although Colleen Wing possesses no super powers of her own, except incredible athleticism and detective skills, she still holds her own among Marvels’ top heroes. Armed with a 1,000 year old katana and her wits, Colleen has appeared mainly in the Iron Fist series as well as aiding the X-Men in battle. This Hero for Hire makes reading Iron Fist a little more tolerable, and looks just as sharp as her sword in her skin tight white cat suit. How she keeps it clean when so many of her readers want to see her get dirty is beyond us.
7) Yukio (Japanese)
This being a list of Asian female comic book characters, you knew we would eventually have a ninja on our list. And boy what a ninja do we have for you! Yukio is equal parts badass as sexy. Her character is associated mostly with the X-Men series, specifically her encounters with Wolverine. Once tasked by Shingen Yoshida to assassinate Wolverine, Yukio instead developed a crush on the Canadian Casanova. Although her appearances were sporadic her influence never was. Her short hair, sense of style, and “madness” and lust for life even inspired Storm to rock her Mohawk punk look for awhile. She was even chosen by Wolverine to raise his adoptive child, Amiko Kobayashi. So to recap, badass sexy ninja, who even Weapon X himself thinks can raise his family. That is some BAMF status.
6) Jolt (Japanese)
Before becoming the living embodiment of electricity known as Jolt, Hallie Takahama was just your ordinary girl who happened to be a super hero buff. Not only was she a huge fan of the superhuman heroes she aspired to be, but also memorized the details of the superhuman battles that took place. Although once only a spectator, Hallie would become no stranger to the often tragic origins of becoming a hero. After her parents were killed by Sentinels, Hallie would go into hiding until she would be captured by the villainous mercenary group the Rat Pack. Their leader, the not Frank Sinatra Arnim Zola, would experiment on her along with their other victims, leaving most of them either mutated or dead. That is except for Hallie, who due to the experiments, would gain superhuman abilities, such as hyperkinetic agility, transform any type of energy into physical strength and speed, and turn her body into living electricity, allowing her to fly and shoot electrical force blasts. With all these amazing powers, you would think that she could have stopped her costume from looking like she ripped off the design from a can of Jolt Cola. But hey nobody’s perfect.
5) Mantis (Vietnamese)
Mantis grew up in Vietnam at the Kree alien temple of the Priests of Pama, the latter which believe she would one day become the Celestial Madonna and mate with the eldest Cotati on earth, becoming the Celestial Mother. In other words, one day become the most important being in the universe. While prepping for this role she even found time to master martial arts, become a member of the Avengers, and even act as a counselor for the Guardians of the Galaxy. With all this life experience, her next role in the Marvel Universe may not be the Celestial Mother, but Marvels’ toughest Asian tiger mom.
4) Armor (Japanese)
Look, we hate stereotypes just as much as the next person, and well aware that a good amount of our list is comprised of characters that are either ninjas, wield katanas, or are throwbacks to Chopsocky Kung Fu exploitation flicks of the 1970’s. So naturally adding a Japanese female character whose mutant powers allow her to create a psionic mecha exoskeleton kind of puts us in an awkward position.
However the fact that this character was created by Joss Whedon, who as we all know would never use Asian culture for his own gain *coughFIREFLYcough*definitely makes up for it. Indicative of Whedon’s work, her character is as well written as it is interesting. We got to admit, her psionic mecha exoskeleton is pretty badass, and even though old man Logan gives her guff for her choice of codename, that Armor is one tough costumer. While surrounded by her exoskeleton she is nearly impervious, and has veteran X-Men such as Wolverine and Cyclops taking her under their wings. So all joking aside, ya did good again Mr. Whedon. P.S. Don’t mind that Firefly crack; we actually really enjoy that show here at Amped Asia.
3) Jubilee (Chinese-American)
With her giant yellow trench coat, oversized neon pink sunglasses, and mall brat attitude there seems to be no better representative on our list of the 1990’s era comic book industry than Jubilee. Hell she was even a member of GENERATION X, all she was missing was some superfluous Jim Lee inspired pouches, a can of Surge, and a copy of Nirvana’s Nevermind and she might as well be a Smithsonian time capsule of the 1990’s. But despite all that, and possessing mutant powers that fellow X-Men Dazzler would even find lame, Jubilee was one fiiiiiiine member of the X-Men. No on looked better in a pair of roller blades and walkman better than her back in the day.
2) Ms. Marvel (Pakistani)
Kamala Khan is not only the first Asian Ms. Marvel, but also the first Muslim character to star in her own series in the Marvel Universe. Debuting in Captain Marvel #14 in 2013, the new Ms. Marvel has helped shatter stereotypes of what Asian American heroes can be as well as Muslim characters. No small feat considering the post 9/11 political climate she debuted in, as well as high expectations set by the previous Ms. Marvels when she took over the mantle. Nothing has held this character’s raising popularity back. Kamala Khan has overcome ethnic and religious stereotypes and bigotry, and most impressive of all, proved that even someone from Jersey City, New Jersey could do great things. Seriously, NEW JERSEY. And that is a super power within itself my friend.
1) Psylocke (Japanese-British)
As with most popular comic book characters, Psylocke’s origins and story have been retconned and rebooted so many times it’s hard to keep up with what is cannon and what is not. What we do know is at some point the British born Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock became the Japanese Psylocke, becoming one of the most popular female X-Men as well as fan favorite of cosplayers world wide. And I think we can all agree that an Asian looking girl with a British accent parading around in a leotard is something we can all enjoy.