Girls Kick Butt: Superhero Comics I Enjoyed Starring Women

If you only read one superhero comic page this week, make it the last page of AVX: VS #6, by Dan Slott and Katie Cook. Totally adorable Squirrel Girl and Pixie provide the best explanation I’ve seen yet for why the whole Avengers vs. X-Men story happened. (Well, second best. Best is “money money money”.)

Worlds' Finest #5 cover

Worlds’ Finest #5 gives artist George Pérez a break by featuring the Huntress and Power Girl in separate adventures drawn by fill-in artists Jerry Ordway and Wes Craig. It’s nothing particularly memorable — and Pérez can’t draw a hairbrush in perspective — but it’s nice to see two adult female heroes and friends. (Thank writer Paul Levitz.) The Power Girl story is just a big fight with a robot-thing, but the Huntress chapter provides some dark context, as she attends a “Take Back the Night” rally and takes down a misogynist sniper. It’s a tad ham-handed, but dang, it hits those emotional buttons. And bless Paul for not using the event as an excuse to reveal some previously unknown sexual abuse in Helena’s life.

Rose & Thorn #1 cover

National Comics: Rose & Thorn #1 was frustrating, in that it’s a one-shot that doesn’t resolve its central conflict, but the character revamp was compelling. Rose and Thorn are still two sides of a split personality, but they’re very modern teens, with Rose worried about fitting in at a new school, while Thorn is much more tough (although playing slutty schoolgirl to take the bad guys off guard) in attitude. Tom Taylor and Neil Googe capture well how horrifying Rose’s situation is, waking up with a new tattoo she doesn’t remember and someone else’s blood on her. This girl has the best excuse in superhero comics for a truly secret identity, but here, she’s a character, not just a plot device or a cardboard good girl. I’d like to see more. The teen school setting, and the Gossip Girl-like drinking and sex that comes with it, makes this feel fresh, even if it does have a touch of Revenge to it.

Hawkeye #2 cover

Hawkeye #2, by Matt Fraction and David Aja, features the amazing Kate Bishop, who used to be a young Avenger. She’s a great character, another modern take on heroing, a snarky counterpoint who grounds the older archer and even saves his bacon. They banter, not like Nick and Nora, but like Castle and Alexis, a more father/daughter relationship.

Here, they fight a circus of thieves, an old-fashioned comic concept that’s drawn so beautifully it all seems new. Aja’s art on this title is indescribably wonderful. Greg McElhatton has samples and explains more about why. It’s a dense book that looks like nothing else out there, and I fear for that reason it won’t be around nearly long enough. I want to spend a lot more time with Kate and the old guy.

Similar Posts: Supergirl #20 § The New 52 Earth 2: Better for Women? § The Huntress: Darknight Daughter § Can Anyone Actually Fight Like That? A Small Piece of Avengers Academy #31 § Hero Realm’s Best Writers


7 Responses to “Girls Kick Butt: Superhero Comics I Enjoyed Starring Women”

  1. Kalina Says:

    I haven’t really been keeping up with DC. What’s the significance of the “National Comics” banner? At first I thought it was a revival of Quality Comics characters but that doesn’t seem to be the case given that the new Phantom Lady and Doll Man revamp doesn’t have the “National” banner. Just curious.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I think the National name is only used for one-shots; the Phantom Lady story is a miniseries. And as for the National significance, I just put it down to wanting to keep the trademark.

  3. David Oakes Says:

    National also seems to be more “Adult” – intentional air quotes – stories. Maybe now that Swamp Thing and Constantine are “Super Heroes” again, National is the new Vertigo? (Everything left at Vertigo is creator-owned, right?)

  4. James Schee Says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the National Comics series so far, and hope there are followup to all of them eventually. But especially this one that has so much potential and while it kept the basic premise actually made it seem so current and fresh.

    World’s Finest is just such a fun “buddy cop” sort of series so far. Though Perez’s art just looks so… old fashioned to me.

    I was so glad for Kate to be included in this issue, as I was bored by the first issue. Giving Hawkeye someone to bounce things off added a lot to the story for me this time.

    I’m not sure what to make of the art so far though. It just seems so…. muted I guess is the best way to describe it.

    Maybe it is just me having loved Hawkeye in the movie, which was so big and fast. This book just seems slow and the stories rather small in comparison.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Good analysis about the difference between the tone of the movie and the comic, but now that you point it out, that’s one of the things I like about it. It’s doing something better suited to a comic than a movie, I think.

  6. Carrie Says:

    Thanks for this. I always steer away from superhero comics (fighting/action scenes are boring for me), but I like the sound of Rose & Thorn.

  7. Best Graphic Novels of 2012 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] also like to make a special honorary mention for my favorite comic book, Hawkeye, and my favorite comic strip/webcomic, JL8 (formerly Little League) by Yale Stewart. I love the [...]

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