Over at Pretty, Fizzy Paradise, Kalinara has been exploring a number of ideas for a gender-swapped JSA, positing their existence on the as-yet-unexplored world of Earth-25. Coincidentally, a while back I had contemplated the possibilities of a few parallel-universe female counterparts for some Marvel characters, but had never gotten around to posting them. (I hadn't yet started my blog when I first came up with the ideas, and had almost forgotten them until Kalinara's posts gave me the impetus to actually share them.)
There is a kind of a theme to the characters I've chosen, in that the mainstream Earth-616 versions were all supporting characters who came to untimely (and sometimes totally gratuitous) ends. However, in this universe, they've got a second chance to establish themselves. Out of the refrigerator and ready for action!
THE CRIMSON DYNAMO:
In Earth-616, Janice Cord was the daughter of munitions manufacturer Drexel Cord, whose resentment for Stark Industries led him to create a robot capable of battling Iron Man. After her father realized what a serious threat he’d created, he sacrificed himself to destroy it. After her father’s death, Janice Cord became romantically involved with Tony Stark, while simultaneously keeping her hand in at Cord Industries. Unbeknownst to her, the head scientist at her corporation, Alex Niven, had not only fallen in love with her, but was also the Soviet agent Alex Nevsky, a.k.a. the Crimson Dynamo. Shortly after Nevsky revealed his identity and professed his love for her, Janice tried to break up a fight between Iron Man and the Crimson Dynamo…unfortunately, at that moment, the Titanium Man unleashed an energy blast at the three of them, killing Janice (though the armored combatants were unharmed).
In another universe, however, Nevsky noticed the Titanium Man preparing to attack, and took the full force of the blast, giving his own life to protect Janice. Emotionally torn by his sacrifice, coming so soon after his declaration of love, Janice broke off her relationship with Tony Stark. When the legal department of Cord Industries determined that Nevsky had created the Crimson Dynamo armor while in their employ (albeit secretly), the armor became Cord property. In honor of his memory, Janice Cord became the new Crimson Dynamo, turning the name of the Communist warrior into a capitalist heroine, Cord Industries’ answer to Iron Man. (This caused a great deal of embarrassment to the Soviet Union, and she often had to battle Soviet villains out to reclaim the armor.) She remains a friendly rival to Tony Stark in both business and heroics, not suspecting that her dual identity mirrors his own.
When Frank Castle’s wife and children were killed after witnessing a mob hit in the park, the Vietnam veteran snapped. Vowing revenge on all criminals, he became a heavily-armed, highly-efficient killing-machine vigilante.
In another world, it was Maria Castle, rather than her husband, who was the sole survivor of the massacre. However, she channeled her her rage and grief in a more positive direction. Putting herself through law school, she eventually developed a reputation as one of New York’s most determined, relentless prosecutors, earning the nickname “The Punisher.”
THE YELLOW CLAW:
In the 1950s, the Chinese criminal mastermind known as the Yellow Claw was often foiled by his own great-niece Suwan, who was torn between her family loyalty, her love for FBI agent Jimmy Woo, and her own moral character. Eventually, the Yellow Claw placed her in suspended animation for decades, until he found a way to infuse her with the spirit of an ancient Egyptian princess, in order to grant Suwan the princess’ ambition and make her a worthy successor to the Claw. However, the spell worked only too well; the now-ruthless Suwan took revenge for her suspension by shooting her great-uncle. Although gravely wounded, the Yellow Claw managed to catch up with the fleeing Suwan and repeated the spell to transfer the princess’ spirit into himself. As the ancient life-force left her body, Suwan rapidly grew old and crumbled to dust, even as the Yellow Claw’s wound healed.
In an alternate reality, Suwan opted to kill her great-uncle instantly, rather than leave him to die slowly. Making her escape, she took over the Yellow Claw’s empire, assuming his title as her birthright. She has even begun taking the Claw’s immortality serum to preserve her youth, causing her to take on the same skin discoloration as her predecessor and sealing her claim on the name.
(Note: I wrote the above concept before the Agents of Atlas series, which re-imagined the Yellow Claw as the Golden Claw. The final issue of the mini-series hinted that Suwan might return in a future Agents of Atlas story...which is actually plausible, since her "death" occurred in a storyline that was all about spirit-transference. We'll just have to see what transpires...)
Those were the only ones I'd worked out in detail, but there are many more possibilities...others that occurred to me, but which I haven't fully fleshed out:
Danny Rand's half-sister Miranda gaining the power of the Iron Fist. (Okay, so she didn't actually die way back in Iron Fist #2...but she'd still be cooler as Iron Fist than as Death-Sting.)
What if astronaut/scientist Ann Beckley had been piloting the Spaceball Firewatch, instead of her husband Stephen Beckley? We'd have Comet Woman! (Not sure what name we'd actually use for her..."Comet Woman" is awkward, "The Comet" and "Captain Comet" are already taken, and feminizing the word to "Comette" or "Cometta" just comes across as too cutesy for an intelligent adult woman. The halo of a comet is called the "Coma"...which would be a cool-sounding name, but everyone would think of the more common definition. The best I can come up with is "Dr. Comet.")