FOUR SERIES FOR THE FEMINIST COMIC-BOOK NERD
With Wonder Woman debuting in her first stand-alone movie this summer, it’s no secret that comic books can offer a lot to entertain feminists. Whether you’re new to the comic-book scene or a longtime fan tired of reading about bland white dudes, here are four series you should start reading today.
Kamala Khan, a second-generation Pakistani-american Muslim teenager from Jersey City, inhabits the 2014 iteration of Ms. Marvel. Marvel enlisted G. Willow Wilson, a Muslim American herself, to write the series, which focuses on Kamala’s struggles to balance school and family demands with the dangerous life of a superhero. Issue no. 12, in which Kamala visits her family in Karachi, explores the complicated feelings surrounding home for many children of immigrants.
America Chavez is a queer Latina superhero. Her evolution from superhero teammate (Teen Brigade, Young Avengers, and A-force) to life as a student at Sotomayor University paints a dreamworld that rivals the “Utopian Parallel” into which she was born (to two moms!). Chavez’s new school, inspired by Justice Sonia Sotomayor herself, includes a “Department of Radical Women & Intergalactic Indigenous People” and a sorority of poc prepping to become senators, engineers, and biologists. Writer Gabby Rivera, a self-described “round, brown loverboi,” gives America’s first solo series a fun and confident energy. The second issue’s cover even invokes an iconic shot from Beyoncé’s “Formation.”
When most people think of female superhero physiques, they imagine a muscle-bound, wiry-yet-somehow-also-buxom glamazon in spandex. In other words, most people would not think of Faith Herbert. But Faith, whose eponymous solo adventure debuted in July 2016, is a happily heavy hero. Even her fantasy sequences (seen in almost every issue) reflect the series’ prioritization of body positivity: In her dreams, she’s still in her own body, rather than a skinny simulacrum. As she flies to the rescue, Faith inhabits her body with confidence and strength.
Jem and the Holograms is a lot of things, but new is not one of them. An ’80s child might remember the neon-bright animated tv show about the antics of Jerrica Benton and her band; others might remember the moodier 2015 movie starring Nashville’s Aubrey Peeples. Whatever your opinions on those iterations, don’t let them keep you from checking out the 2015 series from IDW publishing. One of its artists, Sophie Campbell, came out as trans in 2015.
The brave, powerful women in these comics are challenging established archetypes of the damsel in distress, and in them women and girls have an unprecedented opportunity to see people who look and love like them performing feats of heroism and saving the day.