Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - CONTRIBUTORS - —NAOMI JOSEPH

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.

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