Avengers: Age of Ultron is out next week in the U.S. While I’m sure it’s going to be a good, fun film and a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’m also pretty sure that it’s going to be a dude-fest. Apart from Black Widow (all hail) and Scarlet Witch (an unknown entity at this point), the franchise’s main heroes are all (white) men. So to counterbalance this, let’s talk about four supercool—and recent—female-led superhero stories.
Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick and with art by David López
Collecting issues 1-6, this volume follows the new Captain Marvel—and member of the Avengers—Carol Danvers, attempting to find meaning in her life and forging a new identity for herself, only this time, in space.
Leaving Erath on a mission to help a young refugee to return to her homeworld, now a war zone, Carol’s journey will see her meeting up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, making friends with the refugees of a forced settlement and getting in the middle of their war against the Galactic Alliance. Full of awesome diverse ladies, this first volume introduced me to Carol Danvers and I cannot wait to read more of this witty, charismatic and powerful character. Bonus: a Captain Marvel movie is in the works. So maybe by the time it rolls in…in a few years…there won’t be a need for me to write a post like this?
Agent Carter (ABC, TV Show)
Agent Carter aired earlier this year and its eight (eight! Only eight!) episode run was simply delightful. Part of both the cinematic universe and with connections to that other Marvel TV Show we don’t talk about, it follows the adventures of Peggy Carter in the aftermath of Captain America: the First Avenger. Spy, soldier, fighter, Peggy Carter is all this and more: the series deals with her mission to investigate weird shenanigans off-the-record as well as her continued struggles to be accepted by her all-male colleagues as a worthy member of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (S.S.R).
We know that the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. looms in the horizon and we know that Peggy Carter is one of its creators. The fun lies in seeing Peggy carve—with tooth and nail and punches—her place in this world in the journey to get there. The show deals head-on with the sexist bullshit Peggy has to deal with and although it unfortunately fails on the diversity front, it delivers female empowerment in spades. Plus, her friendship with best friend Angie is super charming. Praying to the Marvel Gods that we will get a second season at some point, as we all need more Peggy Carter in our lives.
Ms Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and with art by Adrian Alphona
Collecting issues #1-5 of Ms Marvel, No Normal features Kamala Khan, the first Muslim superhero to ever headline a comic series as she becomes the new Ms Marvel, replacing the aforementioned Carol Danvers.
Ms Marvel is a bestselling comic series that hits all the right YA tones for me: a young heroine discovering her new powers in a proper origin story with a coming of age arc, a search for self-determination and exploration of the different aspects of her identity which include but are not limited to being Pakistani-American and also a girl, a geek, a teenager. Kamala is adorable in how earnest and dorky she isand I just love this teen heroine so much. I can’t wait to follow this character’s continued growth. Bonus points: Vol. 2 (already out) features Wolverine and the Inhumans.
Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J Wiebe and with art by Roc Upchurch
Ok, so technically, the Rat Queens are not superheroines in the strictest sense of the word but they are superheroines in my heart. In a faux-medieval fantasy world with dwarves, elves, and mages, a group of four best friends who call themselves Rat Queens go off to have bawdy adventures that often lead them to trouble. And the occasional drunken stupor. That often results in the destruction of their home town. Ok, so maybe “superheroines” is stretching a bit.
But just as Kamala Khan is earnest and dorky, these girls are equally so but in an abrasive, coarse, gory way that warms my heart. The panels that depict them getting into bloody battles are fantastic and so are the moments with character development. Their fierce loyalty to each other is also another positive of this incredibly diverse, fun series. This first volume collects issues #1-5 and volume 2 is already pre-ordered.
So there you have it—a fantastic, multifaceted array of female superheroine stories to choose from.