To help celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month (March), I along with some of WordPress’s best bloggers are teaming up to shine a spotlight on some of our favorite fearless females from movies, comics, television, and beyond.
For my contribution to this celebration I chose the subject of 80s cartoons (Shocker!!). Before I begin let me say that there are dozens of fearless, headstrong, and strong female characters in the world of 80s cartoons. Last year for Fiction’s Fearless Females celebration I did a video for Scarlett, G.I. Joe’s counter intelligence operative and first female character. Scarlett is a very popular character in the world of 80s cartoons, so this time i wanted to talk about some great characters that are lost to time (kinda).
So without further ado…
5. Firestar – Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends
Firestar (Angelica Jones) was a character created for the 1981 Saturday morning cartoon, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. The original plan for the cartoon was to have the Human Torch as the “Fire” in the fire and ice duo that was to be teamed up with Spider-Man. Due to licencing issues, the Human Torch was replaced with Firestar and it was a blessing in disguise. The addition of Firestar added an element of diversity and a character element only achieved by a female character. Another element Firestar added to the cartoon was the X-Men.
Angelica Jones was a mutant. She was born with the ability to create and project powerful microwaves that manifested itself as fire. This made her the perfect counter to Bobby Drake’s Iceman.
In the show Firestar and Iceman were both students from Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters that decided to spend their college years attending Empire State Collage in New York City. Angelica and Bobby needed a place to live while attending college and they stumbled upon Aunt May’s Boarding House, which in turn meant they stumbled upon Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spider-Man and the rest is history.
To mix things up a little, Iceman was the brash, hot headed member of the duo while Firestar was the calm, collected, and cool headed member. This added a new layer to the show and made Firestar the voice of reason between two teenage boys.
It would take four years after her creation for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends for Firestar to make the leap to the comic books. Her first appearance was in X-Men #193 as a member of the Hellions, a teenage group of mutants lead by Emma Frost, the White Queen. She soon got her own mini-series the following year in 1986 but after the series was over Firestar was shelved until she joined the New Warriors in 1989. After that she became a distinguished member of the Avengers.
4. Rook Bartley – Robotech: The Next Generation
Rook Bartley was known as the Red Warrior during her time as a vigilante. Growing up without parents on the mean streets of an alien controlled Earth, Rook Bartley joined a biker gang known as the Blue Angels. The Blue Angels raised Rook and taught her to survive in a world controlled by the alien forces of the Invid. The Blue Angels also taught her how to ride a motorcycle and she quickly became an expert.
As she grew older she fell in love with a member of the gang, Romy. During this time, the Blue Angels were at war with another, more aggressive gang called the Red Snakes. The Red Snakes were more focused on terrorizing the people while the Blue Angels wanted to help their town in the wake of the Invid’s occupation of Earth. One day, she saw members of the Red Snakes attacking civilians and she attempted to fight them off. Unfortunately, she was overpowered and beaten by the group, Romy never arriving to help her.
After this event, she ran away from the city and started drifting from town to town until she found functional Cyclone armor and started randomly helping civilians from the Invid and other threats such as gangs and criminals under the moniker of the Red Warrior.
After Scott Bernard and his scavenger ally Rand found themselves tricked and ambushed by the Invid in an abandoned city on a lake, she decided to jump in and help kill the attacking Invid, only to quickly depart in silence to Bernard’s dismay.
After Scott Bernard and Rand stumbled upon Rook again in a nearby town, it set in motion the formation of Scott Bernard’s resistance group during the Third Robotech War.
As a member of Scott Bernard’s resistance group, Rook was a fearless warrior that put the safety of innocent civilians first and would do almost anything to see the Invid defeated and driven from Earth.
3. Diana – Dungeons & Dragons
In 1983 Dungeons & Dragons made the leap from role playing game to Saturday morning cartoon. In the series, six kids from modern day Earth (in 1983) were transported to the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons via a carnival roller coaster.
The history of the cartoon is a story all in itself, which I talked about in detail a few years ago.
Anyways, Diana was the Acrobat of the group. She was a brave and outspoken teenager that never thought twice about jumping into danger if it meant saving the group or completing a quest. Diana carried a magic staff that was given to her by Dungeon Master which can shift in length from as short as a few inches (and thus easily carried on her person) to as long as six feet. She used her staff as a weapon or as an aid in various acrobatic moves. If the staff is broken apart, Diana could hold the severed pieces together and they would reunite. She was skilled at handling animals and was self-assured and confident. These qualities make her the natural leader in the absence of Hank. Diana was chosen as the Acrobat because in the real world she was an Olympic-level gymnast.
In the cartoon, Diana was one of the first to rush into danger and used her staff for many different actions. She would use it to pole vault herself across a chasm or to drop kick an opponent.
2. Tess Darrett – Pole Position
Pole Position was a video game that was released in 1982 by Namco. In the game you took control of an F1 racer and it was one of the most innovated video games to come out at the time. Due to its popularity a Saturday morning cartoon was created and released in 1984.
The cartoon varied wildly from the video game. The F1 race cars were replaced by super high-tech race cars with on board AI computers and transforming capabilities. They could turn into hydro boats, hovercrafts, and almost anything to progress the plot of the episode. As a kid, it was perfection.
In the series, two siblings took over the family crime fighting business from their deceased parents. The cover for this international government sponsored crime fighting team was a traveling stunt show.
The siblings were hot headed younger brother Dan Darrett and cool and collected older sister Tess Darrett. As the older sibling, Tess was the leader of the team and the defacto mother figure to Dan and their younger sister Daisy.
The show didn’t last long, but it ran long enough to showcase Tess’s no nonsense attitude and her strength. She, along with her brother, did what it took to stop the bad guys and keep their family safe.
1. Princess Ariel – Thundarr the Barbarian
In the year 1994 a runaway planet passed between the Earth and the Moon. The force of the planet shattered the moon and plunged the world into chaos and destruction. Now in the year 3994 the Earth is a cruel and unjust land. Rising from the ashes, many warlords, mutants, and wizards have enslaved the human (and non-human) race for their own nefarious reasons.
The stepdaughter of one of these Wizards, Princess Ariel was tired of seeing the cruelty of her father and his followers and decided to fight back. Freeing two of her fathers slaves that had a reputation of fighting back, the three of them would travel the ruined landscape of America freeing more people from the evil forces that enslaved them.
Princess Ariel was a powerful sorceress with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Earth from the 20th Century. This knowledge came in handy when dealing with traveling the burnt out and over grown remains of Earth and also in dealing with her brash and brawny teammates Thundarr and Ookla. Her magical powers were only rivaled by her intelligence, as both were formidable weapons in this trios arsenal.
As a nod to how the world was changing (our world, not theirs), there were many times Thundarr would disregard Ariel’s thoughts and plans with his boorish masculinity by throwing her over his shoulder or with his “might is right” rhetoric. Usually by the end of the episode Thundarr would find himself over his head in trouble and Ariel was there to bail him out with an “I told you so.”. Don’t get me wrong, Thundarr was a true hero in every sense of the word but sometimes his righteousness was fairly used as comic relief.
As a kid I loved the interactions between Ariel, Thundarr, and Ookla. Her knowledge of pop culture helped cement the show to reality and was the bridge between their world of 3394 and my world of the early 80s.
Anyways, those are five women from my childhood that stood out to me as fearless, strong, and positive. There are plenty more (do I smell a follow-up for next year?) great examples to choose from but i wanted to talk about some that don’t get enough attention nowadays.
If you want to check out all the other parts from this monthly series from some of the best WordPress creators, check out the links below!!