Comics for the Uninitiated – Strong Female Leads
For a long time, comics and graphic novels have been completely skewed towards a male audience, with the companies and creators believing that their audience only wants to read about straight white male characters. But in more recent years that has begun to change. It has taken a while and it's not close to perfect yet but we are getting more diverse interesting characters with great representation and brilliant stories. I think what really helped push this along was the major success of both the Hunger Games books and films so as the final film in the series is released this week I thought what better opportunity to take a look at some of the best comics with excellent strong female leads.
While there are many books I could have chosen and in the future I may do another part to this feature I decided to choose one book to represent each key genre.
If you thought the scouts were hard, maybe give joining the Lumberjanes a pass. Five best friends who are all at the "Lumberjanes Camp for
Girls Hardcore Lady Types", do a bit more than earn their hiking badges. Solving mysteries, fighting monsters and discovering hidden underground lairs these Lumberjanes are friends first, monster hunters second. A funny, odd and diverse group of young female characters that are all interesting individuals in both body and mind. Although Lumberjanes is primarily aimed at a slightly younger audience the books brilliance can be appreciated no matter your age.
In a dystopian future where land is divided between a handful of ruling families and those that are not a part of the families are considered waste, each family has one person who acts as their protector, their sword against enemies. These people are given all the physical and mental training to act as the Lazarus for their family. Forever Carlyle is the Lazarus for the Carlyle family. Forever is a complicated character that gets more complicated as the book continues. She begins to question herself and the people around her but it's a dangerous thing to do when the other ruling families are out to get you. A fantastic sci-fi series from writer Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark. Lark's stark and heavily detailed art alongside Rucka's cleverly plotted and insightful story come together to create a fantastic story of loyalty, perfection and family.
On the surface Rat Queens is the story of four ass-kicking, ale drinking, foul mouthed maidens-for-hire who will do pretty much any job if the gold is right. But a closer look reveals that Rat Queens is about the friendship of these four loveable, sometimes insecure and incredibly relatable young women. Inspired heavily by the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons as well as the dark and dirty fantasy genre Rat Queens manages to mix deep interesting character based stories and fun, quirky action in the perfect combination. Writer Kurtis Weibe's witty dialogue and well paced stories matched by the fantastic artists who have worked on the series, including Roc Upchurch, Stephen Sejic and current artist Tess Fowler, who have each brought their own style into the characters, together create an unmissable book for fantasy and comic fans alike.
Ms. Marvel, or Kamala Khan, is more than just the first muslim superhero for Marvel comics, she is a fully realised, well written and realistically drawn teenage girl from New Jersey that just happens to be granted superpowers after sneaking out to go to a party. Ms. Marvel is a book about the trials and tribulations of being a young muslim girl in New Jersey trying to find her place in the world hidden under the guise of a newfound superhero trying to keep her neighbourhood safe. G. Willow Wilson has written a fantastic book of allegories and drama with a great sense of humour.
The elevator pitch is simple, what if Miss Moneypenny was a better spy than James Bond? Velvet Templeton is the personal secretary to the Director of the illusive Agency. When the Agency's best agent is killed in the field the murder is pinned on Velvet and she must go on the run to prove her innocence. But what most of her hunters don't know is that in her younger years, Velvet was one of the best spies in her field. Velvet is a brilliant character and one of the few in comics that is over the age of 30 and still kicking ass. With incredible plotting and writing by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting's beautiful line art and astounding colours by Elizabeth Breitweiser, Velvet is a brilliant spy thriller even before the elevator pitch.