The “distaff counterpart” is a trope with a long history. There seems to be a fascination in pop culture with giving male characters a female counterpart. The first example that comes to mind for many is Mickey and Minnie Mouse. There could be a lot of reasons this trope is so ubiquitous and there have been many arguments as to why. It’s easier than creating an original character, it’s a product of the age old stereotype that women are just pale imitations of men, it’s because some guys felt uncomfortable with how much they wanted to bang their manly hero and therefore created a girl version to target their affection towards instead, etc.
With comics, the explanation is a little more straightforward most of the time- it’s for copyright purposes. If DC doesn’t copyright Supergirl, that gives some other company the right to use the name and they can’t have that.
A distaff counterpart character isn’t necessarily a bad character. They can be quite well done and become great characters in their own right. Some of my favorite characters fall into the trope. There’s no bigger fan of Batgirl and Supergirl than me. However, sometimes it can get downright ridiculous and even hilarious. So let’s dive into some of the weirdest distaff counterparts the world of entertainment has to offer. Do you have any to add? Say so in the comments.
Thor-Girl (Counterpart of Thor)
Thor Girl is an alien named Tarene who made herself an Asgardian goddess. There’s nothing inherently ridiculous about the character, it’s just her name that’s kind of weird. “Thor” isn’t actually a title, but Thor’s actual name, so it’s kind of weird to just stick “girl” on the end of it. It’s like if Jean Grey gained a sidekick named Jean-Boy. However, the name Thor can apparently be passed on much like a title as the female version of Thor currently running around shows. It’s just…awkward to try to modify it, though.Advertisement
She-Venom (Counterpart of Venom)
There’s something slightly alarming about seeing an alien parasite in a brokeback boobs-and-butt pose. The twisted up face and wall of sharp teeth are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think “sexy”. On top of that, the female version of the Spider-Man villain is unfortunately saddled with the terrible name “She-Venom”.
Her story is as tragic as her name and appearance. She was Eddie Brock’s ex-wife who bonded with the symbiote after being shot by some dudes. She then killed said dudes. Later she decided to commit suicide as a result of seeing Spider-Man in his black suit bought back her trauma or something like that. The story doesn’t seem to have much point other than being a sobering reminder that Spider-Man’s fashion choices can cost lives.
Lady Deadpool (Counterpart of Deadpool)
What really makes Lady Deadpool’s appearance is the random blonde ponytail sticking out of her mask, to make sure we all know she’s a girl. Lady Deadpool was from an alternate universe and was part of a band of rebels fighting against U.S. loyalists. However, she was far from alone in being a spin-off of Deadpool- she joined with Headpool (a floating head), Kidpool (you can guess) and Dogpool (YUP) to form the Deadpool Corps.
Gwenpool (Counterpart of Deadpool…and Spider-Man, loosely)
An even weirder distaff counterpart to Deadpool is running around in comics now. “Gwenpool” originated as a mashup of Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy from an alternate timeline where she got Spider-powers and Peter died instead) and Deadpool. The costume became so popular for cosplay that Marvel began to feature her in the comics proper and she eventually even got her own series.
In those stories it was revealed she didn’t actually have anything to do with Deadpool OR Gwen Stacy. Her real name is Gwen Poole. The tailor she hired misread her application form and did her costume up like a combination Deadpool/Spider-Gwen deal as a result.
Though she works as a mercenary, her only power is her knowledge of the forbidden secrets of the Marvel Universe, which she knows thanks to the Marvel comics in the alternate reality she comes from. So she’s both a distaff counterpart and…not one. Like I said, weird.
Calorie Queen (Couterpart of Matter-Eater Lad)
Of all the heroes who you’d give a female counterpart, you wouldn’t think Matter-Eater Lad from the Legion of Superheroes would be the top of the list. And yet, it happened. Like Matter-Eater Lad, the very unfortunately named “Calorie Queen” had the power to eat any substance and convert her caloric intake into super-strength. She was rejected from the Legion because they already had a dude with her powers and she and some other opposite-gender counterparts of Legion heroes (both boys and gals) challenged formed “The Legion of Super-Rejects”. For real. They then challenged their original counterparts to a duel for membership.
Calorie Queen lost to Matter Eater Lad, but immediately after the battle he was drafted into political office and had to leave the team. He personally recommended Calorie Queen as his replacement, but the Legion STILL didn’t let her join. Harsh. Presumably even they found it too shameful to let someone with such a terrible name join their ranks. CQ still fared better than the other “rejects” in that she didn’t decide to become a supervillain in response, but went on to have a successful career in politics, taking Matter-Eater-Lad’s place as senator rather than as a superhero (he was cool with it).
Lady Stilt-Man (Counterpart of Stilt-Man)
Unlike a lot on this list, Lady Stilt-Man’s ridiculousness is probably on purpose. Nobody knows where the hell she came from, but she showed up one day in the Spider-Man villain Stilt-Man’s suit. She ended up being pretty clumsy, and Deadpool was able to defeat her by getting her stilt stuck in a manhole. The poor thing ended up breaking down in tears. Spider-Man also accused her of “trying too hard”. Ouch. These days she apparently goes just by “Stilt-Man” despite still identifying as a lady.
Galacta (Counterpart of Galactus)
Who wants a sexy version of Galactus, that giant dude who eats planets? Well, now you’ve got one in Galacta, who is Galactus’s teenage daughter. (There’s no mom, she was spawned from a cosmic energy field or something). She pairs that ridiculous helmet with a low-cut strapless minidress and thigh high boots, so if you’ve got a weird helmet fetish you’re in luck. Unlike her dad, Galacta has a conscience and will only eat aliens that threaten her planet. However, she still has an insatiable hunger inside her, apparently as a result of a cosmic tapeworm. Her dad appears and informs her she’s basically pregnant with said parasite. Okay???
Terraxia the Terrible (Counterpart of Thanos)
The Marvel supervillain Thanos was bummed out over having his romantic advances rejected by Death herself, so he decided to cope by cloning a sexy female version of himself to bang, as you do. She wasn't just for dating, she also do stuff like rip off Iron Man’s head and beat Spider-Man to death with a rock. Unfortunately, one thing she couldn’t do that Thanos could was breathe in space. When she and Thanos were teleported into deep space, he remembered that he forgot to include that feature as he watched her die. Whoopsie.
Lady Punisher (Counterpart of The Punisher)
The Lady Punisher was an ex-police officer who was kinda into Frank Castle and also into vigilante justice. When Frank apparently died, she took up a black-and-white bustier and became the lady Punisher. Probably the most tragic moment of her existence was when she found Frank Castle’s diary, I mean, War Journal and was heartbroken to see she wasn’t mentioned ONCE in his grim-and-gritty written monologue. Not even a heart doodle on the side! So she did what any mature woman would do and burned it.
Venus De Milo (Counterpart of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Venus De Milo was the only female ninja turtle and a late, little-known addition at that- apparently she was with the other turtles when they got exposed to the toxin but Splinter like, left her behind when had retrieved the turtles. “Accidentally”. She was taken in by a Chinese ninja magician instead.
Notable things about Venus: despite being a reptile, she somehow has boobs. Also notably she’s named after a work of art rather than an artist like the male turtles, presumably because her creators couldn’t be bothered to look up any female Renaissance painters. Off the top of my head, there’s Artemesia Gentileschi. Oh look, here’s more. I guess women did do more in the art world than be armless statues.
Ms. Pac-Man (Counterpart of Pac-Man)
Probably one of the most well-know distaff counterparts out there, Ms. Pac-Man insists “Honey, dontcha know, I’m more than Pac-Man with a bow!” It’s true, she ALSO has a mole. Apparently she was created in response to Pac-Man being popular with female gamers. Hilariously, she was originally “Miss Pac-Man” but it was changed to “Ms” because a scene in the game led protestors to think her and her hubby Pac-Man were having a Pac-baby out of wedlock, the horrors!
Ms. Pac-Man did prove to be a good move, as it pretty much outperformed the original Pac-Man in every way and became the most popular American-made arcade game of all time. Still, there’s something utterly bizarre about how they felt the need to give a yellow circle shapely legs and stiletto heels.