Marvellous, Glorious, and Astonishing: Female Leads in Comics
It looks like Marvel NOW! will feature not one but two new all female teams in the form of X-men by Brain Wood and Olivier Coipel, and Fearless Defenders by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney. Throw in the mix Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel and it would seem as if Marvel Now! has been quite a beneficial exercise for women in comics. Oh, and by women in comics, I literally mean women who reside in the pages of comicbooks. Out of these three female-centric titles, only one is actually written by the fairer sex – Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick – and to my knowledge it is the only book associated with Marvel Now! to have a female artist or writer. Once again the Future of the Marvel universe is in the hands of sweaty, hairy men. Cynicism aside, it is great to be seeing more female super heroines in the spotlight and these new titles will be in good company amongst the many other great female centric comic books already gracing comic shop shelves. For your amusement, below I have compiled a list of some of my favourite titles to all feature strong female leads:
Astonishing X-men- The Joss Whedon and John Cassaday run (issue #1-#24): Joss Whedon really knows how to write strong female characters and they are a constantly occurring theme in his body of work. His run on Astonishing X-men is no different with strong and ‘loud’ male characters, namely Beast, Wolverine and Cyclops, almost being over shadowed Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Armor, Agent brand…and the list goes on. Essentially this book is teaming with pivotal female characters and they really are the life blood of the book.
Worthy of special note is Kitty Pryde who really comes into her own in this run. She is a wonderful mixture of insecure yet strong, with her strength never detracting from her femineity. If you’re an X-men or Whedon fan and haven’t read this book yet you really need to sit down and reassess your life choices.
Glory – The Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell run (issue #23-34): The world of comics needs more characters like Glory and I know I speak for a lot of people when I say I am absolutely heartbroken the series is getting cancelled. Joe Keatinge managed to turn Gloriana Demeter, a.k.a Glory, from a vanilla sword wielding maiden into a truly bizarre mix of femininity and brutality, with an emphasis on brutality! Glory roughly translates into a wonderfully dark take on the Wonder Woman superhero archetype (let’s be honest here folks Gloriana can be aptly described as ‘Wonder Woman on crack’) with its own complex lore and back story.
Captain Marvel- Kelly Sue DeConnick run (Issue #1-present): Kelly Sue DeConnick’s take on Captain Marvel is a refreshing reminder that Carol Danvers can easily hold her own series. Indeed DeConnick’s Captain Marvel is all about establishing Carol as her own person, and her own superhero, not just ‘Captain America’s secretary’ or the mandatory female member of The Avengers.
Along with the new name, Carol Danvers was of course previously Miss Marvel, comes a new strength and new take on the character. DeConnick’s Carol Danver’s is still very much a pilot at heart and there is a wonderful sense of clarity in coming back to the character’s roots. Although I certainly enjoyed what iv’e read of the series I can’t help but think that it will especially resonate with female readers.
Hack/ Slash-Series by Tim Seeley: Cassie Hack is a tough nut. When most teenage girls were painting their nails, shopping or watching TV, Cassie was out hunting down and killing a vengeful zombie version of her own psychopathic mother ….and that’ just her origin story!
Hack Slash sees writer Tim Seeley team up a rotating roster of artists to deliver cheesy horror action as Cassie carves her way through various horror movie style villains known as slashers. It’s a litte bit horror, a little bit comedy, a little bit sleazy and it’s all very Tim Seeley. If you like Seeley’s other work like Loaded Bible or his current run on Witchblade then you’ll love Hack/Slash.
Orchid-series by Tom Morrello and Scott Hepburn: Part parable, part sci-fi fantasy epic and part revolutionary anthem, Orchid tells the tale of ..well Orchid, a teenage prostitute turned freedom fighter. Anyone Familiar with Tom Morello’s musical works, either with Rage Against the Machine or The Night Watchmen, will immediately pick up on the similar Marxist themes and ‘take down the establishment vibe’ both his music and Orchid share.
Although Morello certainly isn’t a fantastic writer in terms of dialogue and plotting, there is a real sincerity and passion that more than make up his technical flaws. This combined with the bold art of Scott Hepburn make Orchid one hell of a read.
So consider this a very small sample of the wonderful array of mighty matriarchs the world of comics has to offer. But as usual don’t take my word for it! Pick up an issue of Wonderwoman, check out Brain Wood’s new X-men title when it drops, or even better do your part to support women in the comics industry and add at least one title with a female creator to your pull list!