Throughout much of the original series, female heroes played a prominent role in the Defenders. At a time when many teams featured only one superpowered woman, the Defenders often had an even split among the sexes.
This letter from Defenders #76 (October 1979) emphasized the part comics can play in shaping readers' ideas about gender equality.
- Dear Al and Jo,
In DEFENDERS #69, Nighthawk makes the comment, "You just beat up a girl who was trying to reason with you," in reference to Hellcat, who is a mature, grown, intelligent woman. Women need female heroes to give them a dream, just as men do. It's a small point—maybe a little girl reading the story didn't even notice it. But the mental impression will remain: no matter how far a female advances, even to superhero-dom, to the world she's still a girl. This does not describe Hellcat, nor does it describe any of Marvel's super-women.
This is important. It's a personal concept that many of us are struggling with. Please give us women the extra support, using the female superheores for whom you, yourselves, felt the need.
State College, PA
Editor Allen Milgrom responded on behalf of himself and writer Mary Jo Duffy.
- This particular point agonized Jo as she was writing the story in question, but, ultimately, she opted to go with how Nighthawk would speak rather than what her personal feelings would have her write. Still, your comments hit close to heart—and we promise to take your goals and feeling into consideration in the future.