Where Are Lion Forge’s Female Heroes?

I’ve been interested in finding out more about the publisher Lion Forge. As Heidi MacDonald (whose site the Beat is now owned by a subsidiary of Lion Forge) says, their Catalyst Prime superhero line aims to represent “a diverse and inclusive world of superheroes that reflects the changing demographics of the real world.” That’s a terrific goal.

It’s tricky to get concrete information, though. If you click “Titles” at their website, you get a set of names and pictures with no additional information — and the promise of “our brand-new website full of in-depth information and previews of all of our current and upcoming titles.” It’s said that for a while now.

They publish in print, beginning in 2016, under four imprints: Catalyst Prime (whose founding editor Joe Illidge just left for Valiant), CubHouse (comics and picture books for kids), Roar (same for young adults), and Magnetic Press, a previously stand-alone indie publisher they acquired.

I’m looking here mostly at Catalyst Prime, since that’s where most of their periodical comics come out, which provides a recurring view of the company’s publications to the reading audience.

That imprint was just reorganized, with the company founders taking over as Editorial Directors. I was impressed to note that five of their six editorial team members are female.

So I went looking for one of these superhero books to try. These days, I want women-centered comics when it comes to the traditional genres. The Catalyst Prime imprint is made up of the following titles. (Links are to the first collected editions on Amazon, with my paraphrases of the book descriptions.)

  • Noble — written by Brandon Thomas, art by Roger Robinson and Jamal Igle — A male astronaut gets telekinetic powers accompanied by amnesia.
  • Accell — written by Joe Casey, art by Damion Scott — A male speedster gains maturity.
  • Superb — written by David Walker and Sheena C. Howard, art by Ray-Anthony Height — Two teens, one with Down syndrome, become heroes to rescue other teens.

    The first female creator in the line, and the first female co-lead. Could that be related? But note the positioning on the cover, making her seem like a sidekick. Superb from Lion Forge Catalyst Prime

  • Incidentals — written by Joe Casey, art by Larry Stroman and Rob Stull — A rich guy creates a superhero team. I’m assuming at least some of the team members are women, but I don’t know.
  • Astonisher — written by Alex de Campi, art by Pop Mhan — A rich boy becomes a superhero.

    Apparently, there’s a lot more too this, as I’d expect from a de Campi book, but you don’t find it in the solicits. You have to read reviews and interviews to find out that it deals with PTSD and other mental health issues and not fitting into a family of privilege.

  • Kino — written by Joe Casey, art by Jefte Palo — A “scientific thriller” with spies, I think? Sounds confusing.
  • Summit — written by Amy Chu, Jan Duursema — A female scientist struggles with survivor’s guilt.

    Finally! Female lead (and queer to boot) and female creative team! This sounds like the one for me to try when it comes out later this year.

So, 17 credited creators, of whom 4 are women. There have been worse percentages in imprint launches. I was surprised, though, to note how often women didn’t feature on the book covers. Perhaps that’s an acknowledgement that the superhero genre remains a traditionally male one, and an imprint set up for diversity may have a different definition of what that means.

Also, an upcoming title has been announced that sounds like a potentially good choice for me. Quincredible has an all-female creative team, although its lead is again a young male. However, he gets mentored by an older woman, although she wasn’t visible in any of the promotional art released.



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