You all know how much I adore comic books and graphic novels and superheroes…but did you also know how, just sometimes, the whole superheroes being primarily men thing bothers me? Yes, there are strong women, but all too often they aren’t the main focus, or they team up with male heroes. I’m all for teamwork. I’m all for collaboration and working together for the greater good. But…I’d also really like to see female’s being strong in their own right. And maybe not having to wear ridiculous costumes that are not conducive to fighting.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as much as I hate the sexism within the pages of some of my favorite comics, there is something cinematographic about the costumes, and I love feminine beauty as much as the next person, and I can appreciate where the artists had their heads (hint: not quite on their pens or the storyline). But, while female heroes might not have intentionally been made into more of a caricature of a hero, they have been, and I think that should change. I know there are many exceptions to my statements above. But…as a rampant cosplayer (who loves what she does, and who she can become) getting into character, more often than not, comes with a short skirt, a corset, and/or a caped bikini. I love it. It’s wonderful. It’s a blast. But…what about the back story? What about all the good the characters do that gets overlooked because my legs are showing? The characters are developed, not just cutouts for something sexy…but it is sometimes hard to see their value when all you see is their boobs and thighs and butt. While I don’t think anyone should be judged on how they dress, in the comic world, it’s hard not to (And in the real world, too, I suppose). Just because someone dresses in a way that might be considered revealing does not mean that they deserve any less respect. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have strengths and goals and intelligent ideas. It means they are awesome, so back off.
Before I get into too much more of a rant, I want to come to a point: In comics, having provocatively dressed women, who aren’t always as intelligently prominent as they could be, can be a barrier when kids are picking out reading material. Parents say NO. They sometimes can’t see past the spandex. And, as role models, young girls (and women, too) looking at images of models and movie stars and superheroines…it gives an unrealistic body expectation. Each person is insecure in their own way, and sometimes it is simplier to think that life would be better with a perfect body and superpowers. (As illustrated above by Kamala Khan in the new Ms. Marvel comic.) What girl hasn’t thought that? Hell, what PERSON (regardless of gender) hasn’t thought something along those lines?
That’s why I am excited. Excited for potential and possibility and what’s being DONE in the comic world lately. With the revamped Ms. Marvel series, and the incredibly awesome Princeless series, Giants Beware, and so many more. These strong female centered stories are awesome. Freakin’ amazing, actually. They focus on strong female characters who question the traditional culture in the comic world, and it’s snarky and wonderful. These girls are all about self-sufficiency and are questioning WHY they have to do what their told, questioning who they are, how they can grow, and what good they are able to do with their unique strengths and morals.
Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. This reboot has Kamala Khan taking over for the traditionally blond, blue eyed ‘perfect’ Ms. Marvel, and she is brilliant. She is full of sass, and shows that heroes have to deal with being human, too. When she first gains Ms. Marvel’s powers, she wants to be just like her, in every way (See first Ms. Marvel image I posted.) But, she soon comes to realize, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The struggle is real. That is an important lesson. Kamala finishes out the issue coming to terms with herself, her new persona, and her new powers. It’s a great read. (And she changes her costume to better reflect herself and her beliefs!)
Giants Beware! (The Chronicles of Claudette) by Jorge Aguirre: Claudette wants to kill a giant, but her village is so safe. Yet, she’s grown up hearing story after story of how dangerous the outside world can be. She decides to take her fate into her own hands, by leaving the safety of the village walls and questing to slay a giant! She brings with her her best friend Marie (who aspires to be a princess) and her brother Gaston (who is a pastry chef in training). They defy expectations, at all turns.
Princeless, Vol. 1: Save Yourself! by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin: Adrienne never wanted to be a princess, and she sure as heck doesn’t want to wait around for someone to ‘rescue’ her. Locked in a tower, guarded by a dragon, and taunting prince after prince, Adrienne has had enough. She escapes with her dragon and sets out to set her sisters free. She has a lot of sass, questions everything, and doesn’t let any classic trope go unturned.
These are just a few of my favorites of the moment. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I’d love to check them out for myself. I guess the only thing left to say is…where are all the female writers and illustrators making these changes? Do you guys know of any?