Fabulous Five Friday: Feminist Comic Books
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen
Lumberjanes is an all-ages adventure comic series that celebrates female friendship, an array of body types, unspecified ethnicities, and non-binary gender roles with zero soapbox preachiness. At heart the series is comedic, but the friendship bonds are very real and the characters endearing.
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, and Taki Soma
Female exploitation stories are about the male gaze, and not generally feminist- hence the name. But DeConnick takes the tropes of the genre and turns them on their head to tell a story of strong women dealing with a fucked up world in brutal and necessary ways. Intersectional, compassionate, DGAF.
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (with guest artists)
One of the primary concerns of feminism is a woman’s ability to make her own choices, and Kamala Khan is forever having to make difficult decisions. Her race and age, as well as her religious, cultural, and familial background adds an intersectional element to her story that a lot of super hero stories about women lack, while also not being preachy about being “different.” She shows how so many different facets of a woman’s life combine to make us who we are- not just whether we identify/are identified as female.
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (now Stjepan Sejic)
This is the rare comic written by a dude that gets it almost 100% right on the feminism angle. The four titular Queens are badass but complicated, they regularly pass the Bechdel test, they represent different fantasy types without being walking stereotypes, their sexuality doesn’t get used for titillation but it is also not swept under the rug, and I could go on. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but I love it and I think it deserves recognition as a feminist title.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Lumberjanes, Stevenson’s other project, has already been mentioned, but Nimona deserves a slot for different reasons. The key here is that Lumberjanes is a female-centric comic, while Nimona stars a female character while the other main characters are male. Nimona rings my feminist bells not simply for the portrayal of the main character as a strong, difficult heroine, but for shaking up the portrayal of the men around her. The “hero” is portrayed not as a big, burly swordsman; rather his appearance is coded as very feminine—delicate, slender, pretty. The “villain,” Nimona’s boss, is not hard-hearted and single-minded, but sensitive, intelligent, and understanding (and also slight of build). In the traditional sense, Nimona is actually coded as more masculine than either of them, physically and emotionally, and the jumble is fascinating.
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios
Batgirl by Gail Simone and various artists
These don’t make the list because I haven’t read enough of them (yet) to talk about them with full confidence, but I AM confident enough to say I’m pretty sure they also deserve a mention.