Winged Victory (comics)
Winged Victory, from the cover of a Hungarian language edition of Astro City, v. 1, no. 4.
|Publisher||DC Comics' Vertigo imprint (current)|
|First appearance||Astro City #2 (Sep. 1995)|
|Created by||Kurt Busiek
|Alter ego||Lauren Freed|
|Abilities||Superhuman strength; flight; highly skilled armed and unarmed combatant; high-level intellect|
Winged Victory is a fictional character in the comic book series Astro City. Created by writer Kurt Busiek and artists Brent Anderson and Alex Ross, Winged Victory is a prominent superheroine of Astro City, motivated by a powerful desire for social justice and self-sufficiency for women.
Winged Victory was an ordinary and undistinguished woman named Lauren Freed, granted superpowers and her mission of protecting and empowering women by what at first seemed a deity or other supernatural entity. She has become one of Astro City’s most prominent and important superheroes.
The entity that created and powers Winged Victory is eventually revealed as the self-styled Council of Nike, "a group of women. Strong, successful women, who had faced difficulties and triumphed over them. Women of strength and determination...and the psychic potential to pool that strength, share it...and empower a champion."
Winged Victory is in an ongoing romantic relationship with Samaritan, Astro City’s greatest superhero. Their relationship began, after years of mutual but un-acted upon attraction, when the other members of Honor Guard set them up on a date, volunteering to cover for both of them by handling all major disasters occurring that night.
Although initially an independently operating heroine, eschewing membership in high-profile superhero teams like Honor Guard as being incompatible with her mission, eventually Winged Victory did join Honor Guard, and has been one of their mainstays for years. This choice has been questioned by the Council of Nike, who feel it dilutes her effectiveness as a symbol of female independence. Along with her high-profile relationship with Samaritan, this has led the Council to consider removing her powers, and choosing another woman to be Winged Victory; however, Lauren has refused to back down on either matter.
In her appointed role as a champion of women’s rights, Winged Victory has attracted controversy. Feeling a keen sense of mission, she is a vocal and passionate spokeswoman for the political, legal and social emancipation of women. In token of this, she is not an equal-opportunity heroine; when forced to choose among persons in a crowd to save first, her conscious decision is to save the females. She has established and maintains a number of women’s centers (originally shelters) and clinics, for which she has been stigmatized as a “cult leader” promoting ideological indoctrination of those served by them.
Recently, again contrary to the wishes of the Council of Nike, Winged Victory has allowed the first male member to join one of her protection and improvement centers.
Winged Victory has gone up against a colorful assortment of antagonists. In a sense she has actively participated in the formation of her personal rogues gallery by seeking out villains who prey on women as her opponents. Past adversaries include:
- Andro - a robotic villain.
- The Courtesan - a female villain presumably engaging in sexual seduction.
- Cro-Mag - a male villain with the appearance of a caveman.
- Fever - a male villain who targets women.
- Gnomicron - a mystically powered mechanical warrior created by the Mountain Gnomes.
- The Iron Legion - a team of armored villains often led by Karnazon.
- Jagged Jill - a female villain who participated in a plot to discredit Winged Victory.
- Karnazon - a male villain with beast-like attributes, sometime leader of the Iron Legion. An extreme male supremacist.
- Ladykiller - a pretty-boy male villain with metallic golden skin and hair who targets women; he leads a cult that worships him as a god-king. He apparently has some sort of mind control or pheremone effect that only applies to women. Originally known as Goldenboy.
- Lord Winter - a male villain, possibly with powers over cold or ice.
- Mama Spank - a female villain whose M.O. involves humiliation.
- Maneater - a female villain who participated in a plot to discredit Winged Victory.
- Mentakk - an alien villain currently incarcerated offplanet.
- Warmaiden - a female villain who participated in a plot to discredit Winged Victory.
- Whip Hand - a male villain said to prefer "direct" tactics.
Powers and abilities
Winged Victory is a woman in peak physical condition, possessed of super-strength, the power of flight, and a formidable intellect and presence. In times of need she may consciously call on additional energy from the Council of Nike to significantly boost her strength and speed beyond even their normal levels.
She is costumed and armed in the style of the Greco-Roman period, and seemingly an expert in the use of antique weaponry. Her signature weapon is her sword, which she carries constantly, in a belt scabbard when not being used.
Her normal human and superheroic forms are markedly different; as an ordinary woman she is physically unremarkable and of average height; as Winged Victory she is striking, powerful, of imposing height, and possessed of large wings. A mystical talisman shaped like a scabbarded sword, worn around her neck as a pendant, allows her to switch between the two forms. Through her pendant's magic, she also receives visions alerting her to emergencies in which women are threatened.
- Astro City Vol. 3 #9, Apr. 2014.
- Astro City Vol. 1 #6, Jan. 1996.
- Astro City Vol. 3 #10, May 2014.