It is 1941, and eminent psychology professor and inventor, William Moulton Marston, radically shakes up the male dominated market of Superhero comics with his charismatic and compelling creation – Wonder Woman, unleashed in the progressive pages of All Star Comics #8, Diana was an instant hit, and less than a year later the seminal character received her very own ongoing comic-book series, which is still being published monthly to this day, almost eight decades on from her groundbreaking inception.
It is 1982, and a nine year old Batman fanatic opens his eyes to a whole new and enlightening world outside of the grimy, corrupt streets of Gotham City, transcending the grim, driven, dark angel of justice known as The Batman, and accepting into his other (comic book) reality a much more virtuous and progressive character. A simple gift from his mum would ultimately turn into a lifelong (but wholesome) obsession, with Wonder Woman helping to not only sate a young imagination with fantastic tales of heroism, mythological monsters and warrior women, but ultimately also help guide his future precepts, and tenets.
I, of course, am that nine year old Batfan, and though the above statement of receiving guidance from a fictional character on moral precepts may sound corny, it’s also true! You see, even though much of our growth mentally and morally is instigated through parentage, friendships and schooling, we are also heavily influenced by (especially now) the fictional worlds we reside in, be that video-games, novels, movies and, of course comic-books.
My comic-book upbringing, strangely, mirrors that of my actual upbringing, and, no, that does not mean my dad ran around in tights, a pointy eared mask and fought crime, but he did share similarities to the caped crusader. He was a driven, but kind man, a member of the British parachute regiment who received the military cross for his act of heroism in rescuing injured members of his squad from a minefield, like the Batman, he was a hero that I looked up to. My mum, again has always been a kind and gentle soul with a love of animals and people, whom has never a bad word to say about anyone, she is also a feminist and rights activist, she also is my hero. Batsy and Wondy have always felt like perfect fictional counterparts to my parents, and that connection between real world and fiction has what’s really led to comic-books holding a special place in my essence.
My adoration of the Themysciran Titan not only derives from my affection for comic-books and a long-standing fascination of Greek mythology, but also my love of strong women in all forms of narrative fiction, and reality, in fact I have always preferred kick-arse female fighters in my video-games and movies and most certainly comics. I have over the years here in the Precinct written about the female influences in my life, my love of martial arts films stems mostly from my youth and watching fantastic fighting female furies like Moon Lee and Cynthia Rothrock reverse the tropes and kick everyone’s arses in film, and don’t get me started on the myriad female superheroes outside of Diana that I adore.
Ultimately though, I look up to Wonder Woman because she stands for everything I personally believe in, social justice, diversity and equity. Fairness, equality and emancipation are tenets that we should all aspire to, and Wonder Woman was, is, and always shall be a golden beacon of hope held up to shine her light on the philosophical theory of a fair and equal society. Long may she reign!
Hey there fellow fans of fantastic fighting female furies, and welcome back to our ongoing/occasional series where we strive to acquaint you with some our favourite formidable females from throughout cinematic history. Last instalment we caught up with the magnificent Moon Lee, our absolute fave ever Asian action star, this time around we’ll be introducing you to none other than the bombastic blonde fury herself, scintillating Cynthia Rothrock! of all the action/martial arts stars throughout film, Cynthia has always been our most revered and is, arguably, the most accomplished female martial expert of all time!
Formidably known in her cinematic heyday as The Queen Of Martial Arts, Cynthia has undeniably lived up to that daunting moniker – starred in over sixty films since her dynamic debut alongside Michelle Yeoh in Yes Madam, attained an astonishing seven black belts with a rank of 8th Dan in varying Chinese, Japanese and Korean martial disciplines, is five times undefeated world Karate champion in weapons and forms, was the first ever female cover star on both Inside Kung Fu and Black Belt Magazine, is the inspiration for two of video-games most popular female fighters – Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat and King from SNK’s popular Art of Fighting and King of the Fighters series, and, is an inductee in the distinguished Black Belt Hall Of Fame alongside such legends as Bruce Lee… Phew!
Cynthia Ann Christine Rothrock was born in 1957 in Wilmington Delaware, though her formative years were spent in Scranton Pennsylvania, it was at the age of thirteen that she first developed an interest in martial arts. In 1981 Cynthia won her first world tournament in the forms and weapons classification, this particular martial category deals with fluidity of movement and form and is mostly non combat oriented, and saw both female and male participation, with Cynthia managing to easily outclass both sexes, she would go on to win this title for an astonishing four more years.
In her first thirty eight tournaments she took first place in forms discipline an astonishing thirty two times (again competing against both female and male martial artists) and twelve times in weapons, she was also pronounced Grand-Master (an honorary title given to individuals who excel at their chosen art and are revered by their peers) at five separate championships… it’s safe to say that Cynthia was a martial arts savante from a very young age.
It was at the height of her tournament dominance that the esteemed martial magazine Black Belt took notice and inducted her into the Black Belt Hall Of Fame as the “Female Competitor Of The Year” she also took the coveted front cover status on the very same issue, the first ever female in martial arts history to receive that distinguished honour.
1983 was the year that Cynthia would first be propelled onto the cinematic stage after being talent scouted by venerable Hong Kong based fighting film studio – Golden Harvest. It was in 1985 that Cynthia co-starred in her very first movie – Police Assassins alongside the magnificent Michelle Yeoh. The film was a massive box office success and launched Cynthia’s long running movie career, with the rapidly rising star going on to make another sensational seven movies for the studio giant, including my personal favourite – Blonde Fury.
Cynthia also holds the prominent achievement as the first ever westerner to be billed as the leading actor in Asian fighting movies. Upon returning home to the United States, Cynthia continued her movie calling with titles such as – China O’Brien and its sequel, Guardian Angel, No Retreat-No Surrender, Prince Of The Sun and many, many more.
She eventually retired from acting after the movie Sci-Fighter in 2004, when she returned to teaching martial arts and expanding on her own, already formidable skills, though she still occasionally cameos and guest stars in various television productions including her own YouTube channel where she continues to showcase her incredible agility, and at sixty three years old is still able to out-surpass the majority of her younger martial peers!
Cynthia Rothrock Movie Recommendations – Blonde Fury, Police Assassins, Righting Wrongs, Prince Of The Sun, The Millionaire’s Express.
Mmmmm, we haven’t dared to tread the perilous path of the infamous Top 10 list so far here in the darkest depths of Precinct1313, never really gave the idea of doing one much thought to be honest. That is until recently, when blogging buddy ‘The Vintage Toy Advertiser’ rendered his very own (and really rather amusing) Top 10 masterclass (which you can indulge your senses in right here) that we thought, suffering sappho, let’s do one of them there list things then, and thus…
Precinct1313’s Ten Favourite Furiously Fierce Femme’s Fatale
NB: This list will contain both fictional and non-fictional wildly wondrous warrior women for your delectation…
No.10 – Big Barda
No list of vivacious virago vixens should ever be without the formidable presence of fighting fury and thorn in Granny Goodness’ side – Big Barda, for she truly encompasses everything to love about powerful, vibrant female characters who are easily able to match and (in most cases for Barda especially) surpass their male counterparts. How tough is Barda? we’ll let the picture below answer that query…
No.09 – Lara Croft
Quintessentially British acrobatic archaeologist Lara Croft has been raiding tombs, securing ancient artefacts and performing perilous platforming since she was first unleashed unto the gaming world by Core Design in 1996. Since that time she has become one of the most recognisable video-game characters of all time and sits proudly in the upper echelons alongside Master Chief, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog.
No.08 – Moon Lee
I’m an 80’s kid, I grew up during that phenomenal decade alongside many classic onscreen action stars and martial artists, even as a youngster my preference was always female characters/fighters and one of the biggest influences for me then was the magnificent Moon Lee. Hong Kong action star supreme, Moon Lee Choi-Fung starred in close to a formidable fifty films during her heyday of the 1980’s!
No. 07 – Batwoman
Kate Kane’s Batwoman alter ego first debuted in the 1956 issue of Detective Comics #233 created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff. Initially created as a female counterpart and love interest to the Batman, Kate has over the past sixty years (thankfully) shed that unfortunate creation calamity and has now become one of the biggest and most beloved of female comic book characters, with a much needed revamp and resurgence through the hand of artist/writer JH Williams III. Reversing the inauspicious and unenlightened conception and delivering a new standard for empowerment in the burgeoning female Superhero market.
No. 06 – Catwoman
Though most Bat-fans see The Joker as Batsy’s biggest foe, for me personally the character that inhabited that perch was always anti-hero cat burglar Selina Kyle. Though Mr J is without a doubt the bigger threat to the dark and surly one’s psyche, Selina holds something over Bats that the jester of genocide never, ever could… his heart. She has been Batman’s most enduring love interest since her inception in Batman #1 in June of 1940… puuuurfect!
No. 05 – Cynthia Rothrock
As previously mentioned some of the biggest influences on me growing up were the plethora of fantastic fighting females that occupied the realms of martial arts cinema, and my most beloved and admired is none other than scintillating Cynthia Rothrock. American born Cynthia is quite possibly the most successful female martial arts master in history – she is five times world champion in weapons and forms and currently holds an astonishing seven black belts in varying martial disciplines! She has also starred in over fifty movies throughout her career, and has acted alongside greats such as Sammo Hung and Michelle Yeoh.
No. 04 – Batgirl
Though the Batgirl name and costume have been inhabited by several different women over the years, the most beloved and well known is assuredly the second holder of the bombastic bat mantle – Barbara (Babs) Gordon. Replacing original holder of the title – Bette Kane (who was created in 1961) Babs debut was in 1967, daughter of Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon and head of Gotham City Library. Her auspicious crime fighting career began with a triumphant save of Bruce Wayne from a kidnapping plot wrought by SuperVillain Killer Moth, and cemented her place in Bat history!
No. 03 – Elvira – Mistress Of The Dark
Elvira may not be a martial arts action star or female fighting force but what she definitely is, is a sensation of female empowerment and positive attitude. A strong, outspoken comedienne who used her innate sexual prowess to turn the tables on mysogynynistic and prejudice laden media from her first appearance courtesy of actress Cassandra Peterson in 1981. Self deprecating and dripping in risque double-entendres, her campy humour has propelled the voluptuous vixen vamp to celebrated cult status, and beyond!
No. 02 – Starfire
Fiery alien princess – Starfire has been a favourite of the Precinct since she was first unleashed in the pages of DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980. Created by the legendary pairing of comic book royalty – George Perez and Marv Wolfman, Koriand’r instantly became a much beloved character and mainstay of The Teen Titans. Hailing from the planet Tamaran, Kory escaped the ravaging of her home by Tamaran enemies The Citadel and her own feuding sister Komand’r (aka – Blackfire) and made a new life for herself on Earth. She is currently the leader of the Teen Titans and founding member of Justice League Odyssey alongside Jessica Cruz, Azrael and Cyborg.
No. 01 – Wonder Woman
Well, if you’ve been following the Precinct for any length of time then you probably knew that the Themysciran Titan would, of course, occupy the titular top spot, and hey, guess what… you were right! I’ve been a WW fan since I was around nine years old, she truly is the greatest fictional female character in my mind, and has the distinction of having the most significant and profound effect upon female empowerment of any fictitious persona ever created. Her genius creator William Moulton Marston first envisioned the Amazon warrior princess in 1941, when she took the covetous cover appearance on All Star Comics #8. Marston was a supporter of the Suffrage movement of the 1940’s, of whom his own wife Elizabeth was a founding member.
All hail the wondrous one!
If you’ve managed to stay the course of this list, then thanks fellow Agents. Who are some of your personal favourite female furies of all time? let battle commence in the comments below…