Monday, April 20, 2015

Women in Comics: Favourite Characters

The amazing Ana from things mean a lot is here today to talk about her favorite female comic book characters, from Captain Marvel to Kamala Khan. Agree, disagree? Share some of your favorites in the comments!

I’ve been a big comics fan ever since I discovered Sandman well over a decade ago, but lately I’ve been caught by the wave of renewed excitement about the medium that's taken over my corner of the Internet. I’ve read a lot of comics in the past few months, and I even dipped my toes into the world of superhero stories, which I’d previously assumed were Not For Me. Along the way, I discovered many amazing female characters I wouldn’t have met otherwise. When Tasha invited me to write a guest post for Book Bloggers International’s Comics Month, I knew I had to talk about all the amazing fictional women I’ve come to know and love.

Here go a few of my favourite female comic book characters discovered in the past year or so, with one bonus old favourite I just couldn’t stand to leave out:

  • Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel:
    carol danvers captain marvel

    If I had to pick a favourite discovery, Carol would be it. Carol Danvers will fight when she needs to and enjoy the action, but she’s also a diplomat, a skilled conversationalist, someone who’s more than willing to adapt her approach to whatever the problem at hand demands, and a funny, smart lady who cares about her friends. Oh, and she has a cat. Don’t mess with her cat, or else.

  • Helen Cobb and Kit Renner, also from Captain Marvel:
    Helen cobb and kit renner

    I don’t want to make this entirely about Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel (even if it is my latest obsession), but in addition to being awesome in their own right, Helen and Kit embody something I especially love about the series. Carol Danvers is surrounded by other women, and the story makes it clear that they’re important in her life. Her relationships with them matter and they are never subordinate to relationships with men: they’re real and they’re priorities. Helen Cobb is a famous 1940s pilot who challenged institutional sexism to get to where she was, and who is shown to be a mentor to Carol in the time travelling story In Pursuit of Flight (my favourite Captain Marvel story arc to date). Kit Renner is Carol’s young neighbour in New York, and Captain Marvel’s biggest fan. When Carol loses her sense of who she is, her young apprentice (or, as Kit likes to put it, her sidekick) is there to remind her.

  • Kamala Khan, aka Ms Marvel
    kamala khan ms marvel

    Kamala is amazing. She’s a sixteen-year-old Pakistani-American teenager from Jersey City who unexpectedly develops superpowers, and who then uses them to fight for justice in her community, a place traditionally neglected by superheroes. Over the first story arc, she also learns that being a Muslim teenager and being a hero are not by any means incompatible — it’s okay for Kamala to be herself and embrace her powers. In fact, her sense of justice is deeply informed by who she is.

    Also, did I mention she’s a huge geek? Kamala is unabashedly excited when she meets her favourite superheroes, and she’s not ashamed to tell about the fanfiction she’s written about them. Those moments are adorable and they fill me with joy.

  • Katie from Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley:
    katie from seconds by bryan lee o'malley

    Katie is a 29-year-old chef who dreams of owning her own restaurant and who has some regrets in life. When she gains the ability to change the past, she does what many of us would probably do: she abuses it. We watch Katie make a lot of mistakes in Seconds, but she won me over anyway with her heart and humour. Her tendency to argue with the narrator never failed to crack me up. I loved her story, and I loved getting to know her.

  • Sally Heathcote from Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot:
    sally heathcote

    Mary Talbot’s fictional account of women’s fight for the vote in the UK places a working class woman from the north at the heart of it all, which was wonderful to see. This is a historical truth that isn’t always acknowledged, and it was great to follow Sally’s journey from a domestic servant in the Pankhursts’ Manchester home to a politically savvy campaigner who stood up for her beliefs.

  • Sister Peace from Castle Waiting by Linda Medley:
    sister peace from castle waiting

    As promised, an old favourite: I love all the characters in Linda Medley’s amazing Castle Waiting but Sister Peace particularly stands out. She’s funny and kind and has a no-nonsense attitude to her, and although her looks defy traditional conventions of femininity (she has a beard), she’s never demeaned or made the butt of a joke for it.


    1. Thanks for this list. I can't believe I haven't read Ms Marvel yet. I also need to add Sally Heathcote to my list.

    2. Check out author Gail Simone, who in the past has done Wonder Woman, Batgirl (until DC went a bit kaplooie about 5 months ago) and is currently working on Red Sonja amongst other things.

      Do we need to talk about Tif's fandom over the Saga series?

      1. nordie ... My fandom?!? I have no idea what you are talking about! ;)

    3. I have just added a stack of new books to read! Thanks so much!! Nothing beats a strong female character in my book!

    4. Love the list! I've been reading the 90's Avengers Assemble comic series in the past month, and Carol is part of the line up. I especially enjoyed the issues in which she first came in, which follow her realization that she's become an alcoholic. I'm new to comics, but I love that Marvel doesn't shy away from talking about real issues such as alcoholism. It makes Carol's character more human (and others like Tony Stark), and it connects to that section of the market, showing them that even super beings have these problems, and they can be over come.

      I haven't read any Kamala Khan, but she looks like a really interesting character! A huge geek- yes! (the panel you showed made me laugh). It's also cool that she's Muslim, and that they go through her personal realizations when it comes to managing a double life. I'll have to check her out!
      -Lizzie (


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