7th December, 2012

Great comics with women in starring roles: a rec list.

To start off, I’m gonna go ahead and say two things:

  • You might not like all of these recs. I’m more fond of some then others. I am recommending these because I think their portrayal of the women characters as either main characters or main characters out of a mixed gender ensemble is strong. And by strong, I mean, well-rounded, well-characterized, not overly sexualized (though even with great writing, there are some cases of this still), with strength and weaknesses of character both well and accurately portrayed.
  • If you disagree with any of these choices, or would like to rec others, feel free to reblog and add opinions or recs!

And now onto the list. Not reccing these in any particular order!

  1. Wonder Woman: The Hikiteia by Greg Rucka. This was Rucka’s first go at writing Wonder Woman, and he is quite honestly my favorite writer for her. The story follows Diana after she makes a vow of protection to a young woman, who is being chased by Batman for past crimes. Wonder Woman must battle one of her best friends in order to keep her honor—and her life. It’s a fantastic stand alone story, and truly shows how much Wonder Woman values her honor and integrity.
  2. Huntress: Year One by Ivory Madison finally gives us a clear origin story on Gotham’s most violent superhero. There are a lot of mixed feelings about this origin story—some people, like myself, love it; while others hate it. I recommend it because I legitimately think it adds depth and history to the character of Helena Bertinelli, exploring her family’s roots in the mafia and her deep spirituality.
  3. Manhunter (vol. 3) #1–38 (October 2004 – March 2009) is a run I have mixed feelings about, but cannot deny her importance as a character. Kate Spencer is not a typical female character—not just for comics, but media in general. Hard smoking, hard drinking, an inattentive mother, with a failed marriage and an overtly aggressive personality, Kate Spencer is one of a kind within the comic book universe. And that’s what makes her so special, and worthy of the list imo.
  4. She-Hulk: Single, Green Female by Dan Slott is a bright light in an era of what are jokingly called “grimdark” comics. Sincerely funny and light-hearted, this book takes the fantastical world of Marvel and follows Jennifer as she has to prosecute over the top cases while being the She-Hulk. At one point, she even helps Spidey sue the Daily Bugle for slander! It’s a great light-hearted comic with what I feel is very well-rounded writing for Jennifer.
  5. The Question: The Five Books of Blood by Greg Rucka (have you noticed that I love Greg Rucka?) is an extremely dark story following Renee Montoya’s descent into obsession with stopping the religious Cult of Crime, as well as her decaying relationship with her girlfriend Kate Kane (Batwoman). It’s a gory, supernatural noir story that certainly isn’t for people who can’t take horror, gore, or sexuality.
  6. Birds of Prey vol. 1 issues #56-127 and vol. 2 1-13 by Gail Simone and Tony Bedard is the biggest, longest run I will recommend here, but only cause it’s worth it (and all of these ARE in trade paperback). Following the adventures of the Birds after original autor Chuck Dixon’s departure, Gail Simone masterfully navigates the relationships and personalities of a group of very different women. Not only are their adventures interesting, the characterizations are all brilliant; and Tony Bedard’s brief takeover is also wonderful. The story also introduces several new female characters who are beloved by fans, particularly Misfit.
  7. Alias: Ultimate Collection Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis is….depressing. But also amazing, and by far the best Jessica Jones stories ever written. It follows her career as a private detective for the seedy part of the Marvel universe. It also probably tells the story of anti-mutant prejudice better than any actual X-men comic has ever managed. 
  8. Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, et al. is a heartfelt look at Death transforming herself into a young woman to better understand the people she guides to the afterlife. It’s full of emotion and twists, and is just a wonderful read.
  9. Black Widow: The Name of the Rose by Marjorie Liu is a bit of a difficult read for those not really familiar with Natasha’s history, but if you can get past that, this is an absolutely great read. It highlights the true strengths of Natasha, not as an alien-fighting, in-your-face ass-kicker, but a subtly strong master of espionage and psychological combat.
  10. Vixen: The Return of the Lion by Willow Wilson is a great Vixen solo story, following her as she returns to Africa to hunt down the men who killed her mother. It also has several great scenes where she explores and monologues about her powers, which is surprisingly deep considering how common transformation powers are for superheroes.
  11. BOOSTER GOLD #34.  by Keith Giffen, because Barda punches a dragon. That’s honestly it. She just punches a fucking dragon.
  12. Batman and Huntress: A Cry for Blood by Greg Rucka is a book that many cite as what made them a Huntress fan. It really explores the thirst for approval she has for Batman, while she still refuses to compromise her goals. It also explores her background (and in some places contradicts Year One).
  13. WONDER WOMAN #37 by Gail Simone explores the relationship between Diana and Donna and their mother with great emotional power. It’s something you really have to read to appreciate.
  14. JLA CLASSIFIED #14 by Warren Ellis contains probably on of Oracle’s finest moments. Her determination to save the JLA with only her computer (even if it’s just to give them a proper burial) is fantastic, and the characterization is spot on.
  15. BATGIRL #50. by Dylan Horrocks is the most defining moment of Cassandra Cain. Out of the entire Bat-family, I feel that Cassandra probably understood Bruce and his mission the most and this issue encapsulates that perfectly.
  16. Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka showcases some of the best Batwoman stories ever told, including her incredibly powerful coming out scene and her pretty scary first meeting with Batman.

I’ll add more later in a second part!


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    Anyone have anything to add?? Figured I could start reading again..
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