Tag Archives: female characters

What Could’ve Been: A Xena/Wonder Woman Comic

Two beautiful women with blue eyes and dark hair. Both women have ties to Greek mythology. Both women are associated with the Amazons. Both women wield swords. Both women are called “warrior princesses”. Both women have blonde sidekicks. Both women have made their mark on pop culture. They are Xena of Amphipolis and Diana of Themyscira. And they were going on an adventure together.

But it was never published.

That’s right. Dark Horse (then owner of the “Xena” license) and DC were gonna release a crossover comic of Xena and Wonder Woman. It’s like that time Dark Horse and DC did that “Batman and Superman Vs Aliens and Predators” graphic novel. I’m not making this stuff up.

Written by Beau Smith, drawn by Eduardo Barreto and read and approved by Gail Simone & Chuck Dixon, this comic never saw the light of day due to Xena‘s cancellation. That decision was made by Dan DiDio, new to DC. He believed that no one would take the comic seriously. Smith says otherwise – he still gets questions about that particular comic.

Here are some quick facts about Wonder Woman vs Xena: The Princess War Diaries.

Ares Kicks off the Story

The Ares I’m talking about is the Ares of Xena’s world. You see he’s bored and what better way to fight boredom than to jump a portal into another dimension where he comes across – you guessed it – Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl doing some amazon training. You can guess where this is going. Ares transports the superladies back to his neck of the woods where he uses his cronies to stir up some trouble then pin the blame on all four women. Oh and he wants them to fight each other all for the amusement of the gods.

The Other Villain Would Be A Male Chauvinist Pig

His name? Bolos the Manly, Ruler of Testosterone. Seriously. He thinks these ladies need the firm hand of a man and so he sets out to find them and teach them a lesson.

Warrior Women? The More the Merrier

There’s also a trio of female mercenaries who want to reclaim their title of Toughest Gal. They set out to teach Xena & Wonder Woman & Gabrielle & Wonder Girl a lesson.

You Can Contact Beau Smith And Tell Him What You Think

He doesn’t tell us what happens after Xena and Gabrielle beat up those lady mercenaries but he like to hear our thoughts on the comic that never was. Click here for more info.

So, Planet X readers, I’d like to hear from you. If Wonder Woman and Xena met, what kind of adventures would they have? Sound off in the comments. No slash fiction please. Keep it clean.

 

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Filed under comics, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics

Thoughts On the “Wonder Woman” SDCC Trailer

 

It appears that DC is stealing the show at Comic-Con at the moment (though to be fair, there’s a lot of buzz over that “Doctor Strange” trailer and Captain Marvel casting announcement too). The one thing everyone’s talking about: the Wonder Woman trailer, of course! I watched it online four times and I have to admit it looks exciting! As I mentioned before, it’ll take place during World War 1, which I think shows creativity on DC/Warner Bros. part. Not only will it give the world the female superhero-led movie we’ve all been waiting for, it may arouse future generations’ curiosity about a long forgotten, centuries old world war.

My thoughts:

  • It’ll be released into theaters June 2, 2017. That’s one year after Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and 100 years since the US declared war against Germany.
  • At first, I was skeptical about Gal Godot’s casting as Diana Prince but after seeing her in action in BVS and this trailer, boy was I glad she was hired. She’s beautiful, tall, exotic, confident, athletic and I love her accent.
  • I also lllooovvvee that blue dress she wears (the one with the hidden sword).
  • I’m glad they included a scene where she meets Etta Candy for the first time and Etta (who’s British!) gushes about how much she likes her. It’s a total opposite from DC’s 2009 animated film where all Etta does is flirt with Steve Trevor and Diana thinks low of her.
  • It’s a relief to see another actress take up the mantel of WW from Lynda Carter so that future generations of fans can talk about which incarnation is their favorite. Think about it: for years Batman fans had Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and now Ben Affleck, while Superman fans had Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill. Wonder Woman fans had only Lynda Carter. But I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the 70s Wonder Woman series because it’s so dated in it’s approach to the character. If this film does well, hopefully it’ll give DC the confidence to hire other actresses to step into the boots of the Amazon Princess.

Now for my questions:

  • Who is that general played by Danny Huston that Diana is slowly approaching? Is he the main villain? Is he Ares in disguise? Who did they pick from Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery to be in this film?
  • What role will Diana’s aunt Antiope play in this film? What’s her backstory? Will she aide Diana in her mission or will she make things harder for her?
  • Will all the Germans be bad guys or will there be some sympathetic German characters?
  • Who is that woman with the partly disfigured face? I know that many soldiers suffered from extreme disfigurement due to flying shrapnel and had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery, but how did it happen to that woman? Was she a nurse in the right place at the wrong time? Did she disguise herself as a soldier? Or worse, is she a battered wife?
  • Will the film address the women’s issues of the time period?
  • What type of Steve Trevor will Chris Pine portray? I hope he’ll be a far cry from Kirk the Jerk.

And finally, here’s what I’m hoping for the film:

  • I hope it’ll be as good or better than Man of Steel in its treatment of its female characters (I feel that, so far, MOS is the most feminist superhero film to date but that’s a subject for another post).
  • I hope it’ll pass the Bechdel Test.
  • I hope the story will portray Diana and Steve’s relationship as one of equals.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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Filed under comics, female characters, Wonder Woman

Dear Asajj Ventress,

 (Beware of Spoilers)

I’ve just finished reading Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple, a canon novel based on a  story arc that never made it to TV because The Clone Wars was canceled. Now I wonder how audiences would’ve taken the news that you die at the end of your story when you saved your lover, Quinlan Vos, and former enemy, Obi-Wan Kenobi, from Count Dooku’s force lightning. Quinlan and Obi-Wan buried you on Dathomir, home to your people, the Nightsisters. At first I was sad and disappointed that you died instead of living happily ever after with Vos. But when your body was dipped into a pool, turning it green and the voices of your long deceased sisters welcoming you into their fold, was heard, I felt a sense of triumph. After all the years of pain and suffering you endured and afflicted on others, you were finally at peace. And you were reunited with your family.

Let me go back a bit. OK a lot. To 2002, after the release of Attack of the Clones. There was a book by Mark Cotta Vaz called The Art of Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones. On one particular page there was concept art of a grey-skinned, bald woman drawn by Dermot Power. He explained that he wanted this character to be a successor to Darth Maul for all the female star warriors but instead George Lucas went with the character now known as Count Dooku. No matter. It didn’t stop me from drawing a profile picture of you from the book.

And then you made your debut as Asajj Ventress in 2003 with Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars. 

I watched the micro-series with excitement as you snarled your first famous line: “Jedi! Their order is a fading light in the dark. Corrupt and arrogant. They must be punished. The jedi shall fall!” Then you lured Anakin closer to the dark side with one of the most memorable lightsaber duels since Yoda fought Count Dooku on Geonosis. You lost that fight but you went on wreaking havoc in the comics.

Then there was a second Clone Wars series in 2008 where you caused more murder and mayhem even getting a scene cut from cartoon network because it was deemed too sultry for young viewers. But it was in this show we learned that you had a tragic past. You were ripped from your mother as a youngling and sold into slavery. You were eventually freed by a kindly jedi knight named Ky Narac, yet tragedy hit you again when your surrogate father was killed and you were orphaned once again. Your pain drew you to the Dark Side and into the guidance of sith lord Count Dooku where you were a scourge of the Republic. But eventually Dooku betrayed you and left you for dead. You just couldn’t catch a break! But you made your way back to Dathomir, vowing revenge and exciting times lay ahead. Katie Lucas wrote some of the best epsiodes of Clone Wars involving the Nightsisters – Force sensitive women who practiced the dark arts – and she admitted in the introduction to Dark Disciple that she loves writing stories about you. We fans had only been familiar with these mysterious women through Dave Wolverton’s Legends novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia and the 1985 TV movie Ewoks: The Battle For Endor. But now we would see, for the first time, how the Nightsisters operated as a society. As a student of warrior women history and folklore, I couldn’t have been more intrigued to see TGFFA’s take on the Amazon archetype.  We also have you to thank (indirectly) for giving us back Darth Maul (shirtless of course).

But, alas, your quest for vengeance failed. Your experiment, Savage Oppress disobeyed you. Dooku slaughtered your sisters and you escaped but were alone yet again. Nevertheless you forged on and became a bounty hunter. It was through this unlikely job that your inner goodness came through. In The Clone Wars season 4 episode “Bounty”, you saved a young girl from a forced marriage after listening to her pleas for freedom. You also won our hearts further when you helped our favorite Togruta, Ahsoka Tano, clear her name with the Jedi Order. 

Which brings us back, full circle, to Dark Disciple. The Jedi Council ordered Jedi Master Quinlan Vos to go incognito as a bounty hunter, team up with you and convince you to help assassinate Count Dooku. Sadly this led to disaster as you and Vos went down the path of the Dark Side and it nearly lost you the love of your life. But your better nature and intuition came through when you let the light side of the Force flow through you and show you the way to redemption. With this newfound enlightenment, you not only convinced Vos to come back to the light side, you also saved the soul of the Jedi Order by convincing them that assassination was not the Jedi Way.

Some would accuse Lucasfilm of making you another woman in a refrigerator so as to push a male character’s story forward, but I disagree. You had taken the lives of others, so eventually you would have had to repay their lives with yours. But the difference between you and other “fridged” women is that you went down fighting and you made your choice knowingly and confidently.

You lived as a criminal in the eyes of the Republic and died as a hero in the eyes of the Jedi Order. By forging your own path, you taught us that we are not bound by destiny but by choice. You started off innocent, turned corrupt and then redeemed yourself. But you were always, Asajj Ventress, one of the most multifaceted characters to ever emerge from Star Wars. In hindsight, I’m glad Lucas stuck with his original decision.

Rest in peace, Asajj.

And may the Force be with you.

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Do As Peggy Says: Support “Agent Carter”

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So the inevitable happened: ABC cancelled Agent Carter. Why? Because of “low ratings”. How were the ratings for Agent Carter were any lower than the ratings for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show that (according to some fans) has indecisive storylines and started off weak, yet got stronger (depending on who you ask) as seasons went on? Was it because it was given a chance? Agent Carter, on the other hand, started off with critical acclaim, broke ground and won the hearts of nerd girls (and guys) everywhere. Even the second season, which divided fans, still had much to offer and left us with a juicy cliffhanger. If the show had such low ratings then why were there two online petitions to save the show? Maybe ABC aired the show in an inconvenient time slot (Tuesdays at 9 PM are iffy for me. I often had to use Hulu to catch up). Maybe ABC didn’t promote the show enough. Haley Atwell signed on to do a different show. Have you seen the trailer yet? Ugh. Just, ugh (barf).

But let’s not just sit around and mope. We are geeks and nerds! We have the brains and the imaginations to show and spread our love for our favorite secret agent so she will never be forgotten.

1. Sign Dat Petition

You’ve heard on the internet about that petition on Change.org to continue the show on Netflix. Sign that thing.  Think that won’t be enough? Go to abc.go.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, click on contact and a new window will appear (“feedback”). Select the box that says: “Select Your Issue”. Click on “abc programming feedback”. Give them your first and last name, email address, state and zip code. Select “Marvel’s Agent Carter” for “Select Show or Category”. Then select “I like this show because” and give your reasons. Even persuade them to move the show to Netflix. Then submit. If you feel that’s not enough, write to Marvel comics and Disney and complain (I’d provide contact info but I can’t find any. If you can provide info, it would be appreciated).

2. Buycott Peggy

Her Universe has four Agent Carter t-shirts. Here they are:

 

           10408048_hi   10577026_hi  

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Teepublic.com also has some great shirts. Collect them all.

There’s also this FunkoPop! Peggy figure:

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You can buy one from Hot Topic or your local comics shop if they carry one.

Season 1 is available on DVD at Amazon.

3. Make Your Own Peggy Stuff

Do you have any hobbies? Can you sew? Knit? Make jewelry? Paint? Sculpt? Then put your talents to good use and make some Peggy-themed stuff to show off to your friends, family and fellow fans. If you want to take your Peggy love a step further, sell some of your stuff online, or at your local convention so that others will join you in celebrating the awesomeness that is Agent Carter.  I make jewelry so I plan to make some Peggy pendants using pictures printed from the internet, bezels and magic gloss (aka resins). I will display the final results on Tumblr.

So now it’s your turn. How will you express your love for Peggy and the gang? Sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas.

 

 

 

 

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10 Female Star Wars Characters That Should Be Made Into Action Figures

Aside from a post I wrote about the new Rogue One teaser and a lengthy list of belated Lucas/prequel appreciation from IMDB, I’ve been mostly silent about the direction Disney is taking Star Wars because there’s such a treasure trove of SW stuff pre-Disney. I have six films, two Clone Wars series, one Ewoks TV movie, the Legends/Expanded Universe and the Dark Horse Comics (one of these days I’ll check out those Droids cartoons). But my biggest and only gripe I have with Disney and Hasbro is the lack of diversity and quality in their action figure department. The Force Awakens is the hot item at the moment and whenever I go to Target, Toys R Us and the Disney Store, I always stop at the boys toys section to check out the latest SW action figures…

…AAAAnnnd it’s nothing but TFA, TFA, T-F-A. *Sigh*. I had to turn to Amazon to buy that Princess Leia Medal Ceremony 3.75 Black Series figure that Hasbro made but never released to stores. Phooey!

I still want detailed, articulated, finely sculpted action figures from the OT, PT, CW and Legends eras. It shouldn’t just be the Disney films that get the spotlight.

But enough complaining! What if I made a wish list of my top ten choices for female character that should be made into an action figure? Who would they be and why? Here’s my choices:

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10. Ackmena

C’mon, admit it. You thought Bea Arthur’s performance of “Goodnight, But Not Goodbye” was the highlight of the much maligned Star Wars Holiday Special. You even have it downloaded on your iPod. So why not have an action figure of the grand dame of the Tatooine cantina scene? You can add her to that diorama you made of Mos Eisley where she butts heads with Wuher over whether droids should be allowed.

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9. Guri

Bodyguard, assassin, secretary and Xizor’s most prized possession. What makes her different from the others on our list is the secret only the Falleen crime lord knows: she’s really an advanced human replica droid. Nevertheless, between her and her boss, she is the most shrewd. She’s also one of the most interesting characters in Shadows of the Empire. Since they’ve made two figures of Xizor, I don’t see why they can’t make a figure of his right hand woman.

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8. Lanoree Brock

A Je’daii Ranger and the leading lady of Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, a novel that takes place 25,793 BBY. Just imagine owning a pre-lightsaber, sword wielding jedi.

Ewoks_Battle_for_Endor

7. Cindel Towani

The first Star Wars spinoff film to have a female lead. If we can have young Anakin and young Boba, then why can’t we have Cindel? Honorable mention should also go to Nightsister Charal.

Dorme

6. Dorme

Two handmaiden action figures came from The Phantom Menace. It’s high time we get some handmaiden figures from Attack of the Clones. Following in the footsteps of Sabe, Dorme is Padme’s #1 handmaiden and closest confidant. One of the most memorable scenes in episode 2 is when she tearfully says goodbye to Padme. If Keira Knightly can be immortalized in plastic why can’t Rose Byrne?

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5. Queen Apailana

I have 6 Queen figures: 5 of them are Amidala and one is Queen Breha (AKA Leia’s adoptive mother). I need more queens in my collection! I want Apailana so I can compare and contrast her funeral gown with Amidala’s gray pre-senate gown.

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4. Queen Jamillia

As I said before: more queens! Plus Jamillia had a great line: “the day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.”

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3. Eirtae (Pre-Senate Cloak)

Even though Queen Amidala’s handmaidens look alike, what with those hoods and all, their robes were just as eye-catching as the queen’s gowns. They’ve made one figure of Rabe in her yellow/orange flame gown, so they should make the other handmaidens in various gowns. Eirtae should get the burgundy gown.

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2. Brea & Senni Tonnika

How they never released figures of these two is beyond me. From the first time I saw A New Hope, I wanted the Tonnika sisters as action figures. As a fan of Ancient Egypt, I was allured by their style.

TenelKa

1. Tenel Ka 

In my opinion, Tenel Ka is the most interesting female character of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I liked her the moment I met her in the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. A focused, taciturn friend of the Solo twins, Tenel Ka wears many hats: as the daughter of Prince Isolder and Teneniel Djo, she’s a princess of two worlds, Queen of the Hapes Consortium (which means another queen added to my collection!), Jedi, Amazon and mother to Allana Solo. She avoided using the Force as much as possible, refused a prosthetic arm when she lost hers in lightsaber training, and her lightsaber hilt is a rancor’s tooth! So Hasbro and Lucasfilm, if your’re reading this, get to work, on the double!

Now it’s your turn. Which female Star Wars character would you like to add to your toy collection? Sound off in the comments.

 

 

 

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Thoughts On The “Rogue One” Teaser Trailer

 

Ok, it’s time to talk about Star Wars again.

Not because The Force Awakens, was released on Blu-Ray and DVD this week, but because Lucasfilm released the teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I’ve just finished watching it and I must confess, my feelings are mixed. Visually it looks better than The Force Awakens because it takes place before A New Hope. The sets have more detail and scope as opposed to TFA’s sparseness. It cast Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma, which is perfect because she played Mothma in Revenge of the Sith and she looks the part. But it’s also merits the old chestnut: “I have a bad feeling about this”…

Here’s my “bad feelings”:

  • Felicity Jones’ character is Disney’s second SW female lead. She’s been “on her own from the age of fifteen”. Excuse me, but wasn’t Rey also an orphan who’s had to fend for herself from youth, and develop fighting skills in the process? Why is Disney making all their SW heroines orphans with no one to raise, teach and protect them? Can’t they come from loving families who’re very well aware of the evil threatening them? Luke had Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Anakin had Shmi. They weren’t left to fend for themselves. On the surface, it seems progressive but when you look deep down, it’s kinda troubling.
  • How much did they pull from the Expanded Universe? Clone Corridor has already pointed out the similarities between the two.
  • What’s with the “martial arts-type” fighting? Luke, Han and Leia never had to fight like that.
  • Did they consult George Lucas? I’m guessing that’s a no.
  • What lessons will be taught in this story? Does Jyn come away a better person or will the objective be only to steal the death star plans?
  • Will they introduce new planets with new environments? New aliens? Never before seen vehicles? I’m guessing that’s a no.
  • It’s an OT era story following in the footsteps of an OT era ripoff. We will see more x-wings, tie fighters, stormtroopers and imperial leaders, which is kinda sad.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until they release the official trailer to have our questions answered.

 

 

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Star Wars and Female Representation – Part 3

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Since I’ve been getting a lot of feedback for my previous posts on female character-centered merchandise, I realized that I didn’t expand on the ladies of the Expanded Universe that much. I just mentioned that there were action figures of them and that’s that. Well shame on me because now I’m going to fix that by showing you which ladies got represented in plastic form and where to find them (Yes, I’ve just heard about how SW toymakers were told not to include Rey in their merchandise. Why am I not surprised? Once again, this would’ve never been a problem when Lucas was in charge.).

I wasn’t much of a star warrior in 1995-6, but I do recall seeing commercials for lots of Star Wars action figures. It wasn’t until the release of the Special Editions in 1997, that Star Wars toys really started taking off and they haven’t lost steam since. The earliest wave of EU inspired action figures was the release of Shadows of the Empire, a multimedia project that revealed what happened to Luke, Leia, Chewie and Lando between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Sadly, there were no action figures of Guri, Xizor’s right-hand, er, woman and only two figures of Leia (one in her famous Boushh disguise and the other in an outfit provided by Xizor). But in 1998, fans caught a glimpse of  an action figure of one of the EU’s most popular female character: Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand. Here it is. But that’s not all. In 2007, Hasbro released some two figure packs that came with a comic. One of them was Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade from Heir to the Empire. And recently Mara was included in the Black Series line. I bought mine from the Disney Store, of all places.

Speaking of 2 figure comic packs, most of them contained ladies: The Dark Woman, Lumiya (the first ever made), Deena Shan (twice!), Ysanne Isard, Darth TalonJarael and T’raa Saa. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Remember Bastila Shan, the wife of Revan, in Knights of the Old Republic? She got an action figure too. And so did bounty hunter Shae Vizla from The Old Republic.

In 2008, Lucasfilm embarked on the most ambitious multi-media project since Shadows of the Empire except this time some female characters were included. Among them was Felucia Shaak Ti (a movie character that surivived Order 66) and her apprentice, Maris Brood. Another important character was Juno Eclipse, the woman who melts Galen Marek’s heart. And as an added bonus in this TFU five figure pack is the first and only Darth Talon action figure, a long dead sith lord resurrected as a holographic figure for Galen/Starkiller to duel with.

Shall I resuscitate you now? No? Good because I’m not finished yet.

Before Rey, there was Jaina Solo, daughter of Han and Leia, niece of Luke Skywalker and “Sword of the Jedi”. In 2009 she was included in the Legacy Collection with her brother, Jacen.

And what about Asajj Ventress? Even though she became canon with The Clone Wars, she was first introduced via the EU. Her first action figure appearance was as stylized as her animated counterpart in Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2003-2005 Clone Wars series. Then there was a five figure Battle Pack set from 2005 that included her, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda and General Grievous. Then in 2007 she was in the aforementioned Comics 2 Pack line with Tol Skorr.

I would mention her 2008 Clone Wars action figure, but that’s not considered Expanded Universe. 😉

For part one of this series, look here. For part two, click here.

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Star Wars And Female Representation – Part 2

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In my last post I addressed the complaints made against Star Wars regarding the lack of female representation. I also talked about some of the Leia-centered merchandise that was released over the years and the fact that Lucasfilm and toy companies were actually very mindful about female representation in their products. But my focus was most on the Empire era with Leia, Aunt Beru, Toryn Farr and Oola. Now we jump to 1999 where Lucas has tantalized us with three new Star Wars movies. How did female representation fare then? Hate to burst your bubble, haters, but if there’s one thing the prequels did better than the originals, it’s that they added more women in their stories. They also brought in a larger female audience. They created new fans – many of them women. The prequels were also an inspiration for many cosplayers because of Queen Amidala’s many wardrobe choices. But there was also her handmaidens, Aurra Sing (more on her later) and Zam Wessell, and lady jedi like Aayla Secura and Bariss Offee. Then in 2008 came the Clone Wars TV show and we got Asajj Ventress (who first appeared in many comics and an earlier Clone Wars TV show), Mother Talzin and of course, Ahsoka Tano. If you doubt her popularity, you’ve definitely been spending your entire adult life hanging upside down in a wampa cave.

But how did Star Wars fare when it came to female representation in merchandise? From what I remember, there was enough Amidala merchandise to rival Disney’s Princess line. T-shirts, stationary, posters, costumes, even a makeup collection! But most of all: fashion dolls to showcase Padme Amidala’s fabulous wardrobe. There was the Queen Amidala Portrait Edition Collection where you could get dolls of the teen queen in her various gowns as seen in The Phantom Menace. There was also another collection called simply, the Queen Amidala Collection and they were more kid-friendly dolls that involved different ways to arrange Amidala’s dress, disguising her as a handmaiden and of course, styling her hair. Twice. I forgot to mention a two doll pack collection where she’s in her battle outfit with Qui Gon Jinn. Sadly there wasn’t as many Padme dolls for Attack of the Clones (except one) but other ladies got their time in the spotlight: Shaak Ti, Aurra Sing and Bariss Offee

But since Star Wars dolls are not a new thing, there was also something that was never released before: paper dolls. Yes! You could play the part of Amidala’s handmaiden and dress her in different royal attire. There was also a Padme paper doll book for Attack of the Clones (because she made more costume changes in that film than in episode 1!)

And of course we can’t forget the action figures. To date, I personally have 13 Padme Amidala action figures, 6 from TPM, 4 from AOTC, 1 from Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars and 2 from ROTS. I also have two Sabe action figures and two bounty hunters: Zam Wessel and Aurra Sing respectively. I could go on and on about my collection but we’d be here all day. Here’s a list instead. (Confession: I’m secretly drooling for that “realistic” Ahsoka Tano Vintage Collection action figure but it’s only available on Amazon and the price offers range from $105 to $139. Yeesh!)

And what of the Expanded Universe? Though it was kicked off in 1978 with Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, toys based on the books, comics and video games of TGFFA shot skyward with the prequels and they covered different eras, from the early days of the Old Republic to the adventures of Cade Skywalker. Characters like Lumiya, Mara Jade, Jaina Solo, Juno Eclipse and Shae Vizla were given their own action figures.

It’s hard to say how Disney/Hasbro will fare in the future when it comes to female character driven merchandise since they’ve only owned Lucasfilm for 4 years now. I’ve been bored with a lot of SW merchandise lately because it’s all been OT and TFA era and I want more representation of the entire saga. I feel that the #WeWantLeia campaign was too limited in its demands. I don’t want just Leia, I want Padme and Ahsoka too. So girls, keep speaking up. Keep demanding. Ask for more female characters in merchandise – not just Leia.

But also, look for that silver lining: DIY merchandise. Sewing and crafts have always been considered a feminine art form and instead of sitting around on their computers, wishing, hoping and tweeting for female-centered merchandise, some fangirls have made their own merchandise. Heck, it worked for Ashley Eckstein.

I will also leave you with this idea, girls: use Star Wars as inspiration to make your own movies. We can’t keep on demanding men to represent us when we have the brains, the hands and the imaginations to represent ourselves. We can’t have more women in front of the camera until we get more women behind the camera. And instead of demanding inclusion in a 40-plus franchise that needs to be retired, let’s create new SF and F stories with female characters or adapt SF novels written by women for the big and small screen.

In the meantime look online and at your local comics, toys and collectible shows for merchandise.

Happy shopping, star warriors.

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“Star Wars” and Female Representation – Part 1

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If you’re a girl who loves Star Wars like me, by now you’d be familiar with all the brouhaha that’s been floating around the internet about TGFFA’s “female problem”. From actor dads who introduced their daughters to the saga (via only two episodes if I may add) to Hasbro’s contemporary lack of female characters in their toy lines, to screams of outrage when the first pictures of the cast of The Force Awakens at a script reading were released.

And I have to admit: I don’t get it.

I mean, I’m all for increased female representation but I don’t get the timing of these arguments. The franchise is nearly 40 years old. It took fans this long to realize that the male to female ratio was disproportionate? Shouldn’t we’ve been complaining about this when the first trilogy was released? And why is a 1977 film being called out for using the Smurfette Principle, while a 2012 film like The Avengers gets a free pass?

Let’s go back to 1977 and look at things in an historical context.

While the 70s will forever be remembered as the decade of The Women’s Liberation Movement, the concept of feminism was still foreign in many parts of the U.S. The subculture of science fiction was no exception. Despite being a genre of futuristic, scientific possibilities, it was a genre that was still ruled by older white men, even though there had always been women SF/F writers from the get-go. One woman writer in particular, Pamela Sargent, describes her dilemma when she was collecting stories for a pet project of hers:

Twenty years ago, my first anthology, Women of Wonder, was published. It was the first anthology of its kind: science fiction stories by women about women. For over two years, I tried to find a publisher for Women of Wonder, and the reactions of the editors were instructive. A few editors thought the idea was wonderful but decided not to do the book anyway. Some editors found the idea absurd, a couple doubted whether I could find enough good stories to fill the book, and one editor didn’t think there was a large enough audience for such an anthology.

Let’s backtrack a little. Not only did society look down upon the idea of women liking science fiction, they couldn’t comprehend the idea of sci-fi as a genre to be taken seriously.

 It’s hard to believe now, but many SF films and TV shows that are now considered classics, were at one time critical, commercial and ratings flops. 2001: A Space Odyssey was hated by the critics and despite positive word-of-mouth, took years to regroup its costs. Darryl F. Zanuck had to overcome a lot of obstacles, both political and creative, to make The Day the Earth Stood Still. Arthur P. Jacobs needed Charlton Heston’s star power and John Chamber’s makeup talent to convince studios to distribute Planet of the Apes. And both Star Trek and The Outer Limits suffered so much from low ratings and executive meddling that it lead to the departure of their respective creators. So what point am I trying to make? That if these classic films and shows had a hard time getting respect with male leads, imagine how much harder it would’ve been if the leads had been female. George Lucas was no exception (It’s been said that one of the reasons he called Star Wars science fantasy was because if he said it was SF, the film would’ve never been accepted).

Speaking of Star Trek, there are times when female portrayal on that show set my teeth on edge. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show as much as the next nerd but there are times I secretly felt that Leia could kick the butts of every woman on the Enterprise (not that she would do that). Having loads and loads of female characters doesn’t automatically make something pro-woman. But a story can have only one or two women and they can be written extremely well. And now back to Lucas.

According to the book The Art of Star Wars Galaxy (Gary Gerani, Berkeley Pub Group, 1993), Luke was originally written as a girl on a mission and Han Solo was a general who was helping her in her quest. But studio executives refused to distribute the film unless there was a budding romance between the two characters, something Lucas did not want (one thing he was adamant about was that the main hero, male or female, would not have a romance). Maybe it’s because classical mythology always featured male protagonists or maybe because male characters aren’t expected to fall in love as much as female characters, but either way Luke became a man. Oh well…

But there is one thing Lucas had been adamant about: in his script there was going to be a woman.

Star Wars has become such a fixture of pop culture, it’s hard to believe that Princess Leia Organa was a shock to filmgoing audiences in 1977. No one had seen anyone like her before because unlike those before her, she was more than just smart and determined, she was an action girl. She knew how to shoot a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it. Before Leia, action sheroes were mostly seen on television (like Emma Peel, Honey West, Wonder Woman and Charlie’s Angels), not film. Leia was the first. Yet, it’s inaccurate to say she’s the only female character in the films, she’s the most important. How would audiences have sympathized with Luke’s desire to leave Tatooine if it wasn’t for Aunt Beru’s support? How could we truly comprehend the evil nature of Jabba the Hutt if we weren’t witness to Oola’s demise?

Yet what the first Star Wars lacked in two-hour cinema, it made up for in comics, television, novels, video games and toys. Yup girls, at one time you could girl-themed SW merchandise to your heart’s desire. Here’s a Princess Leia doll. Here’s another one. Here’s one that was released in the 90s. Here’s one of her on a speeder bike.

Dolls not you’re thing? Well did you know there was a 1997 Princess Leia Collection? These were two figure-packs of Leia in different clothes with an accompanying male character. Here’s one in her ceremonial gown with Luke. Here’s another one of her in her Ewok-made dress. Here’s one where she’s with Han on Bespin. And last, but not least, here’s her famous senator gown. And they’re all made with real cloth.

But you didn’t have to be the heart of the Rebellion to get an action figure. You could simply stand there in the background and become an action figure. You could have only one scene and become an action figure. You didn’t have to be in the movies and you could still be an action figure! Many various characters from Kitik Keed’kak to Toryn Farr to Sy Snootles got action figures so that girls could make up their own adventures with these characters with limited screentime. And I’m forever grateful to Lucasfilm for that.

But what about the aforementioned expanded universe? And the prequels? And the Clone Wars? How did female representation fare in those eras? Find out in part 2!

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A Mighty Princess Turns 20

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My God, has it been 20 years already?! 20 years since a woman in armor rode across our TV screens, fighting gods, monsters, warlords and kings? 20 years since this TV show revolutionized the way women were portrayed as action heroes? Yup, Xena: Warrior Princess turns 20 this week and I remember what it was like to be a viewer of the most popular feminist action fantasy show of the 90s. There hasn’t been a fantasy series before, or since, to measure up to the brilliance of this show.

Though the series premiered September 4, 1995 as a spinoff of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, I didn’t start watching the show until 1997, when I was a 7th grader in middle school. I remember hearing a lot about the show but not seeing it until channel surfing one day. I’ve been hooked ever since.

You had to have been a hermit, to have not heard of Xena: Warrior Princess or Lucy Lawless. She was everywhere: t-shirts, books, magazines, toys, coloring books, comics, and jewelry. She was named dropped on every other show that aired at the time. IMDB.com has a complete list. Lucy Lawless was one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People In the World”. She was also on the cover of TV Guide, Ms., and featured in Entertainment Weekly.

But I’m not going any further explaining Xena’s contribution to pop culture. I will leave that honor to freelance journalist (and devoted Xena fan) Kathy Young with her awesome 2005 article, “What We Owe Xena” . Instead I’m going to make a list of some of my favorite episodes, season by season, summarize them and explain why they’re my favorite episodes. Let’s begin, shall we (warning: watch out! Spoilers about!)?

Season 1

“The Path Not Taken”: Xena infiltrates a band of criminals to rescue a kidnapped princess. There she’s reunited with an old flame, Marcus (Bobby Hosea), an arms dealer who secretly regrets his lifestyle choice. Xena convinces him that it’s never too late to turn a new leaf.

Why I Chose It: This episode probably marks the first time network TV depicted a sexual relationship between a white woman and a black man, something that’s still controversial to this day. Xena and Marcus’ kisses are so passionate and consensual it would put Kirk and Uhura to shame. Lucy Lawless’  tearful delivery of the episode’s final lines are also memorable: “he was my friend. He was my friend!”

“The Reckoning”: While trying to save a group of men from being attacked by a mysterious cloaked figure, Xena is caught and accused of murder. This is all a part of Ares’ (Kevin T. Smith) plan to make the Warrior Princess resort to her evil ways.

Why I Chose It: Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) shines here when she uses her bard skills to prove Xena’s innocence. Xena shows off her brilliance as a tactician when she takes up Ares’ offer to grant her request for an army. She chooses the men that were killed. They call her a hero. Case closed.

“Prometheus”: Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst guest star in this episode as Hercules and Iolaus respectively. The noble Titan, Prometheus has been chained to a mountain and humanity has lost their ability to heal and make fire. Guess who has to free him?

Why I Chose It: It gives a fresh take on the Prometheus myth and has a scene where Gabrielle explains to Iolaus why people search for their soulmates.

“Death In Chains”: The ancient Greeks believed that Death came in the form of a woman holding a candlestick. King Sisyphus has chained (see a pattern here?) Celestia, the personification of Death, so that her candle will melt and death will be no more. Think that’s a good thing? Think again.

Why I Chose It: It presents a very interesting argument on why we need death: because without it, we’d be left with pain, disease, old age and bad people would never die. You need to get rid of these things first before you can end death.

“Hooves And Harlots”: Xena must solve a murder mystery before war breaks out between the Amazons and the Centaurs.

Why I Chose It: One of the show’s greatest aspects was its depiction of the Amazons as an authentic warrior culture with customs, laws and government as opposed to mere fantasy no different from Atlantis or Shangri-La.

“Warrior…Princess”: Xena has a twin! And she’s an actual princess! And she’s in danger! Xena must take her place! But the princess is to be married! Will Xena find the assassin and avoid a walk down the aisle?

Why I Chose It: Lucy Lawless’ talent as an actress shines here. She has to play two roles. The uberconfident Xena and the naïve, pampered Diana. And she pulls it off beautifully.

“Mortal Beloved”: A ghostly Marcus returns from the underworld to ask for Xena’s help in retrieving Hades’ stolen Helmet of Invisibility.

Why I Chose It: Xena’s heartfelt plea to Hades to grant Marcus an eternity in the Elysian Fields while having to face separation from him again is touching and food for thought.

“The Royal Couple of Thieves”: Autolycus (Bruce Campbell) can steal anything! He’s The King of Thieves after all! So will he help Xena steal a secret “weapon” from some arms dealers?

Why I Chose It: It has Bruce Campbell for heaven’s sake! Any episode where he shows up as Autolycus is bound to be hilarious. And the slapstick between an incognito Xena and Autolycus is golden!

“Callisto”: Who is that blonde woman committing crimes in Xena’s name? A former victim of Xena’s crimes.

Why I Chose It: Thanks to Hudson Leick’s twisted performance, Callisto became one’s television’s most memorable villains. Plus we’re introduced to Joxer the Mighty (Ted Raimi)!

Season 2

“Orphan of War”: Xena is reunited with the son she gave up for adoption years ago.

Why I Chose It: We see another side to Xena: a more softer, maternal side.

“Intimate Stranger”: With Ares’ help, Callisto switches bodies with Xena.

Why I Chose It: Once again Lucy Lawless and Hudson Leick show off their supreme acting chops by playing each other’s roles. And they succeed.

“Ten Little Warlords”: Ares has lost his divinity. Xena is still trapped in Callisto’s body. And everyone is acting crazy. Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer and a mortal Ares have to race against time to make things right again.

Why I Chose It: Once again, Hudson Leick gives a knockout performance as Xena and we learn why the world needs a God of War.

“The Xena Scrolls”: In 1940s Macedonia, Janice Covington, an archaeologist and Melinda Pappas, an interpreter, are searching for the fabled “Xena Scrolls”. Scrolls that will “turn myth into history”. Unfortunately finding the scrolls also awakens Ares, the God of War.

Why I Chose It: Have you ever secretly wished that you were the descendant of some famous warrior woman? Do you imagine yourself getting bonked in the head only to possess  the fighting abilities of said warrior. I myself secretly wish I was the descendant of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, but that’s beside the point. The scene where Mel gets knocked out and awakens as Xena with sword in hand and theme song is one for the ages.

“Here She Comes…Miss Amphibpolis”: Xena enters a beauty contest to see who’s trying to sabotage the pageant.

Why I Chose It: “A WOMAN’S A NATURAL THING!!!!”

“A Necessary Evil”: Power hungry Amazon, Velasca (Melinda Clark) has eaten ambrosia and became a god. She wants rival Amazon queen Gabrielle dead. To Gabrielle’s dismay, Xena enlists the help of a now immortal Callisto to fight Velasca.

Why I Chose It: The highest-rated episode of the series and it’s easy to see why. Two scary villainesses for the price of one!

“A Day In The Life”: Xena and Gabrielle have to prevent a warlord from plundering one village and the world’s biggest giant from destroying another. Xena also has to fend off an annoying admirer. All in a day’s work.

Why I Chose It: This episode introduces Minya (Allison Wall), a comedic character who wants to be a “tough broad” like Xena.

“Lost Mariner”: Xena and Gabrielle are trapped aboard the cursed ship of Cecrops, doomed to sail the seas for eternity. But there may be a way to break the spell.

Why I Chose It: You can’t help but feel touched by Cecrops plight, thanks to Tony Todd’s performance. It also teaches a lesson about the true meaning of love.

“A Comedy of Eros”: Speaking of love, Cupid’s son, Bliss has escaped with his father’s bow and arrows. He shoots an arrow into Xena, Gabrielle and their enemy, Draco. Xena falls for Draco, Gabrielle falls for Joxer and Draco falls for Gabrielle. Love stinks.

Why I Chose It:  Not even infatuation can stop the Warrior Princess from doing the right thing! Star Warriors will recognize Jay Laga’aia as Draco before he was cast as Captain Typho in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

Season 3

“The Furies”: In another attempt to make Xena revert to her evil past, Ares strikes a deal with the Furies. It involves her sanity and her mother.

Why I Chose It: Seeing Xena overcome mind control (again) proves how really brilliant she was at beating enemies at their own games.  Unlike other female protagonists with missing moms, it was always refreshing to see how Xena’s relationship with her mother was depicted throughout the series.

“Been There, Done That”: The same day’s events just keeps repeating itself over and over again and only Xena’s noticed. Can she get to the bottom of this conundrum? Or will she go crazy from just trying?

Why I Chose It: What other TV show can make an episode that seamlessly blends Romeo and Juliet and Groundhog’s Day into one story? Answer: none so far.

“The Debt, Parts 1 and 2”: Xena receives a message from the land of Chin (China) to repay a debt for an old friend.

Why I Chose It: It introduces Xena’s greatest influence, the beautiful and wise Lao Ma (Jaqueline Kim), true ruler of the Lao Dynasty.

“Warrior…Priestess…Tramp”: Xena reunites with Meg and meets another look-alike who works as a high priestess in the temple of Hestia, the Virgin Goddess. Leah is her name and her temple’s in danger. It’s up to Xena (and *sigh*, Meg) to find out who’s after the sisterhood of the Hestian Virgins.

Why I Chose It: “I hope that was a petting zoo! PLEASE TELL ME THAT WAS A PETTING ZOO!!!”

“The Quill Is Mightier”: Aphrodite curses Gabrielle’s scroll with the ability to make anything Gabrielle writes a reality.

Why I Chose It: Minya returns in all her wanna-be warrior glory. Xena fights an entire army with seafood.

“The Bitter Suite”: Xena blames Gabrielle for Solan’s death. Gabrielle blames Xena for her unwanted pregnancy by Dahak. They stumble into the musical land of Illusia to patch things up.

Why I Chose It: It was (arguably) the first time a major prime-time TV show did an all-musical episode. It’s also tear-jerking to hear Xena sing an apology to Solan for not being a good mother.

“Forgiven”: A feisty teen named Tara (Shiri Appleby) picks a fight with Gabrielle so that she could help the duo find the stolen Urn of Apollo.

Why I Chose It: I like how this episode teaches us that helping someone change their life isn’t always easy especially when the person is very difficult to get along with. But when we learn about their background, and we overcome those personality hurdles, we can make new allies, if not friends.

“Fins, Femmes and Gems”: Cursed once again by Aphrodite, Xena becomes obsessed with catching a special fish, Gabrielle becomes obsessed with her appearance and Joxer believes that he’s a legendary “ape-man”.

Why I Chose it: I like how the curse was lifted when the ladies came to terms with the source of their obsessions.

“Vanishing Act”: A statue of Pax, the goddess of peace has been stolen. Two cities accuse each other of the crime. Autolycus, the King of Thieves, is also a suspect. But did he do it?

Why I Chose It: By now, you should understand the formula: Autolycus + Xena & Gabrielle = hilarity. And Xena is hilarious as a wacky bidder named Ezra with a mole for an eyesore while Gabrielle is another bidder named Myopia.

Season 4

“In Sickness And In Hell”: A Scythian army is advancing towards a defenseless village. Xena has lice and Gabrielle has a nasty skin infection. What’s a poor girl to do?

Why I Chose It: You know the saying “an army moves on its stomach? Well now we can say “defeat an army with its stomach.”

“A Tale of Two Muses”: Gabrielle and Xena reunite with Tara who’s about be punished by her new home for committing a shocking crime: dancing.

Why I Chose It: It’s Footloose Ancient Greek style. Good to see you doing well, Tara.

“Daughter of Pomira”: Xena and Gabrielle once again face the dreaded Horde, only to discover that a Greek girl is living among them. Turns out that she is the kidnapped daughter of one of Xena’s soldiers from the past – and the girl’s biological family wants her back home.

Why I Chose It: If you’re familiar with the 1956 film The Searchers you may be familiar with true life accounts of little white girls taken captive during “Indian raids” and made to assimilate into Native societies. Many of these girls grew up with these tribes and when given a choice to leave instead chose to stay with them. The Ancient Greeks used to call all non-Greeks “barbarians” because the languages they spoke sounded like they were saying “bar-bar”. Xena suggests that the Ancient Greeks may have also suffered from this clash of cultures. Being a child of two worlds myself, I like how the episode resolves the conflict by having Vanessa/Peelee learn that she doesn’t have to restrict herself to just one family or culture. That she can be both Greek and Pomira and love both her families.

“If The Shoe Fits”: Gabrielle, Joxer, Xena and Aphrodite help a runaway princess return home by relating their own version of Cinderella.

Why I Chose It: A gap-toothed Gabrielle, warlords in drag and “swimming instructors”. The LOL meter just got louder.

“The Play’s The Thing”: Two con artists discover one of Gabrielle’s scrolls. They convince her that it’ll make a great play. But the play is financed by vicious warlords and theatergoers want sex and violence. Can Gabrielle stand by her beliefs and produce a good play?

Why I Chose It: Minya: “Gabrielle, I wanted to thank you! I never would have met Paulina if it wasn’t for you! In fact, the two of you made me realize something deep down about myself that… I guess I always knew, but… just didn’t dare admit. Yes… I’m a… thespian.” Gabrielle’s new mature, sexy look. Faster Chakram! Kill! Kill!

“Takes One To Know One”: A bounty hunter lies dead in Cyrene’s (Darien Takle) inn. Cyrene, Minya, Lila, Autolycus and Gabrielle are suspects. A goddess (Meighan Desmond) wants Xena to solve the murder or else she’ll take someone with her.

Why I Chose It: The Xenaverse take on Agatha Christie and Clue.  Discord: “So, you’re saying that your horse killed her?” Xena: “In self-defense!” Discord: “But I can’t take back a horse! I don’t do animals!” Minya: “That’s not what I heard!”

“Deja-Vu All Over Again”: In modern-day America, a woman named Annie believes she was Xena, warrior princess, in a past life. Her boyfriend, Harry, scoffs, but they both get a surprise when they visit a new age practitioner who takes them through their former lives.

Why I Chose It: Lucy Lawless and Ted Raimi flex their acting chops by switching roles as the reincarnations of Joxer and Xena respectively. And they pull it off.

Season 5

“Chakram”: Xena gets resurrected but has lost her warrior memories. Ares and Kal, another god of war, are plotting to use her to get their hands on a new chakram with the power to kill gods.

Why I Chose It: It’s a shame Kal got killed off because we didn’t see anymore of Antonio Te Maioha (in the role at least). He’s easy on the eyes.

“Succession”: In order to fulfill a promise to an aspiring warrior, Ares merges Xena and Gabrielle into one person to battle her to the death.

Why I Chose It: Ares merges Xena and Gabrielle into one body so that one of them fights Mavican by day and another one fights by night yet both women manage to avoid bloodshed.

“Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire”: Gabrielle, Cyrene, Joxer, his flamboyant brother Jace, and a pregnant Xena must face off against Draco in a “battle of the bands” for the possession of Terpsichore’s Lyre.

Why I Chose It: The second musical episode of the series but this time with covers instead of original content. Nevertheless you can tell the cast had a lot of fun doing it. Jay Laga’aia returns as a lovestruck Draco and Ted Raimi acts for two as Jace.

“God Fearing Child”: Xena is about to give birth to her daughter but Zeus (Charles Keating) has other plans…

Why I Chose It: As they say on Tumblr, so many feels! Xena reuniting with her deceased son, Solan and assuring him that he will always have a special place in her heart (the name Eve was his suggestion). Hera (Meg Foster) decides to put aside her hatred of Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) and help him defeat Zeus. Zeus’ dying confession to Hercules.

Season 6

“Who’s Gurkhan?”: Gabrielle learns to her horror that a northern African warlord kidnapped her niece and killed her parents and brother-in-law. Will her desire for justice be met or will she become obsessed with vengeance to the point of betraying Xena?

Why I Chose It: This episode takes a big jab at polygamy, ’nuff said.

The Rheingold/The Ring/Return of the Valkyrie: I’m lumping these stories together as a trilogy because the Norse are famous for their trilogies. Did you know that Xena was once a Valkyrie? Neither did Gabrielle, who secretly travels to the Norselands to meet up with her soulmate and help her correct yet another grievous mistake from her deadly past. To bad she’s been cursed to eternal slumber by a jealous Valkyrie and can only be awaken by her soulmate.

Why I Chose It: If Xena can have episodes about Amazons, why can’t there be episodes about the other most famous race of warrior women? I’m glad that Xena finally broke Grinhilda of her curse and helped her regain her rightful place at Odin’s side.

“You Are There”: A modern-day news reporter (Michael Hurst) follows Xena around and interviews everyone she’s come into contact with on whether she has ulterior motives in her quest for the Golden Apples.

Why I Chose It: Aside from the humorous aspect I like this line Xena says: “you can’t have love without a little bit of hate and you can’t have peace without a little bit of war.” So true.

“Send In The Clones”: Three Xena fans, with the aid of a scientist, successfully clone Xena and Gabrielle into the 21st Century. But can this new Warrior Princess and Battling Bard handle the modern world?

Why I Chose It: The three fans bear a striking resemblance to a certain heroic trio. Xena and Gabrielle eat Pizza and drink soda as they watch clips of past seasons. Then the duo ride off into the sunset in a taxi while sipping champagne.

“Soul Possession”: Xena once made a deal with Ares that involved marriage. Now Ares wants to “seal” the deal. But Xena and Joxer are still in the “wrong” bodies (see “Deja Vu All Over Again”).

Why I Chose It: Annie once said that she could be Xena in her next life. Now she finally gets her chance. What a way to end a marriage contract.

“A Friend In Need, Parts 1 and 2”: A mysterious woman from the island of Jappa (Japan) sends a plea for help. Xena must fight in the land of the dead to defeat an evil spirit while Gabrielle uses her chakram to fight in the land of the living.

Why I Chose It: Yes, I actually liked this controversial episode. I thought it was the most poignant episode to address death since the Star Trek: TNG episode “The Evil Skin”. All warriors must accept their deaths sooner or later, it comes with the job (and since Xena lived in the ancient world, she’d be dead by now). But while other fans were saddened and angered at the finale, it left me with more questions about Gabrielle’s fate. Now that she’s inherited the mantle of the Warrior Princess, what will her new life be like without Xena? What adventures will await her in the Land of the Pharaohs? Will she get a new sidekick? Will it be Eve? Or someone else? Since Xena “will be alive in her heart”, does mean she can still get advice from a Xena apparition a la Obi-Wan Kenobi? What type of mythical creatures, gods and historical figures will she meet/fight? Which historical events would she have a part in? It’s questions like this that make me wish that some talented writers would publish some spin-off novels and comics chronicling Gabrielle’s post-Xena adventures…

Anyway, happy 20th anniversary, Xena: Warrior Princess! There will never be another show as unique as you.

P.S.: Which Xena episodes were your favorite? How did this show impact your life?

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