Comic Book Babes

Were you looking for a post about sexy comic book hotties? Sorry to disappoint.

Even in this age of superhero blockbusters and a thriving nerd culture, it can still be hard to find a lady in the lead. Iron Man. Batman. Superman. Aquaman. It's easy to argue that comic books and their Hollywood counterparts are still a big boys' club. I know that as a female reader, I am not interested in sexed-up sidekicks and "armor" that barely covers one's vital organs.

As we explore heroes in this year's One Book, One Chicago selection, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, it’s nice to see things are changing.

Girls like me caught on to Sailor Moon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the 1990s. Girls got into video games and graphic novels. Girl nerds are stepping up and demanding better representation and more heroes of their own. In fact, ​women made up almost half of the attendees at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, the mother of all Comic-Cons.

There are a lot of writers and artists, both male and female, who are putting out comics with great writing, three-dimensional characters and strong female leads. One of the hottest titles right now is Saga by the wonderful Brian K. Vaughan, which also features gorgeous artwork by Fiona Staples. Saga is an interstellar love story featuring star-crossed lovers Alana and Marko. On the cover of Volume 1, Alana breastfeeds her infant daughter in one arm and wields a gun in the other. She is a mother who is fighting not just to protect her family, but to bring peace to their worlds.

Neil Gaiman's Death is not your typical Grim Reaper. Fans of The Sandman will recognize her as one of the standout characters from that series, a cute, gothy girl with an ankh necklace. This standalone volume will appeal to fans of literary fiction and stories with a philosophical bent.

Captain Marvel and Pretty Deadly are two recent works by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Captain Marvel reintroduces classic comic fans to Carol Danvers, a superhero who has made appearances in X-Men and Avengers storylines, but now comes back to claim her own story full of action and adventure. Pretty Deadly, however, takes a departure from the Marvel Universe, focusing instead on a mythical western landscape full of magic and darkness and populated by a diverse cast of fierce women.

Rat Queens gathers a group of four foul-mouthed, medieval mercenary babes straight out of Dungeons & Dragons, but don't let that turn you off. All four leads are fully realized characters with distinct dialogue and personalities that are funny and real in a refreshing and unexpected way. It's like hanging out with your best friends, if your best friends occasionally fight with troll hammers.

Comics have been made, traditionally, for the dudes. Let's support great storytelling and beautiful artwork that honors female characters and the female audience.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library