SPIDER-WOMAN • STORM • MS. MARVEL • SHE-HULK
The Bronze Age of Comics reflected many of the feminist tensions of the era. The number of female characters, both heroes and villains, increased substantially in the 1970s, in response to the feminist movement, and in an attempt to diversify readership. However, these characters were often stereotypical, such as the man-hating Thundra or angry-feminist parody, Man-killer.
The character Ms. Marvel is an example of Marvel's struggle with the issues of feminism. Debuting in 1977 at the height of the women's liberation movement, with the honorific "Ms." part of her cryptonym, the heroine's name was a strong symbol of feminist solidarity, as was her civilian job as editor of Woman magazine (a reference to the then-new Ms. Magazine). The first couple of issues of her self-titled comic book even included the cover line "This Female Fights Back!" The reality, however, was decidedly mixed. The controversial Ms. Marvel rape was handled poorly by Marvel Comics: first having Ms. Marvel be the victim to a man's attempt of escape from Limbo, give birth to said man that raped her, her teammates confused as to why she would not want the child, and subsequently fall in love with him and move into Limbo with him.
Throughout most of the Silver and Bronze Age, women in comics were not given leadership positions. In the 1980s, under writer-artist John Byrne, Susan Richards found new uses for her powers and developed an assertive self-confidence to use her powers more aggressively. She changed her alias from the Invisible Girl to the Invisible Woman. Eventually, the Invisible Woman would chair the Fantastic Four, while over in the Avengers, Wasp chaired the team.
Enormous impact was made both within comic book storylines and amongst comic book fans by the radical portrayal of women in the UNCANNY X-MEN comics, which had been relaunched in 1975. Previously existing female characters were given huge increases in power-levels, new code-names, flashier costumes, and strong, confident, assertive personalities: Jean Grey went from being Marvel Girl to the nigh-omnipotent Phoenix, and Lorna Dane became Polaris. New creation Storm (Ororo Monroe) was unique in many ways: not only was she (and still is) the most famous black superhero in history, she was portrayed as incredibly powerful, confident and capable from her very first appearance.
Younger/teen-age female super-heroines, which heretofore had been portrayed as inept or limited in power, were re-examined by the portrayal Kitty Pryde, who at age 13 became the youngest member of the X-Men. In the 1980s, the X-Men met with the Morlock tribe in which they kidnapped Kitty Pryde and forced her to marry one of their own. When Kitty escapes, she meets with a Japanese Sorcerer who uses mind control on her and she escapes from him as well, but changed greatly. Much credit for the "turnaround" of portrayals of female super-heroes that happened in the 1970s could be given to X-Men writer Chris Claremont: his portrayals of Storm, Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde, Rogue and Psylocke in The Uncanny X-Men (as well as his work on Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, Misty Knight and Coleen Wing) became known in the industry and amongst fandom as "Claremont Women": smart, powerful, capable, multi-faceted women super heroes.