Awesome female characters in comics aren't necessarily a new thing, but too often women aren't involved in their writing, art or creative direction. As a result, we often end up with a lot of caricatures: "cool girls," unrealistic body types, and women intent on destroying other women.
We need more than token, one-dimensional depictions of women, which is why the comics collected here are so refreshing. They don't just have one woman surrounded by men — each of these comics depicts many different female characters, which means the burdens of representation aren't on just one character. Here's a list of amazing comics (with women on the creative team!) that celebrate the power of girls and women.
Ms. Marvel - G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa
If you're looking for a comic that celebrates girls and women, look no further than G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona's run of Ms. Marvel. You've probably heard of this character, the Pakistani American teenager Kamala Khan who's taken on the mantle of Ms. Marvel. If you're not reading this wonderful comic, here's why you need to: Kamala is a compassionate, level-headed young woman who wants to do right by her family and friends but also takes her superhero responsibilities seriously. It's a beautiful meditation on friends, culture and family, while also being endearing and very funny.
Strong Female Protagonist - Molly Ostertag and Brennan Lee Mulligan
Strong Female Protagonist is a webcomic that features just that: a main character named Alison Green who used to be a superhero. She's hung up her capes and tights and is trying to live a normal life as a college student. It's an empowering story about a woman struggling to find her place in the world, questioning who she is if she's not using her powers, and trying to figure out what her responsibility to and relationship with society is. You can read this comic for free online (it's ongoing) or you can purchase the first volume as a print book.
Monstress - Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
This steampunk fantasy series features breathtakingly intricate art by Sana Takeda; if that's the only reason you pick up this series, it's a valid one. But you'll stay for the fascinating storytelling, set in a world that's very different from our own in which humans are at war with races of magical creatures, centering on Maika Halfwolf, who is not a human but can pass as one. It's a remarkable book for many reasons, one of which is the sheer number of women in the cast and how varied they are — if you're looking for a testament to the capabilities of women and our myriad similarities and differences, this is the comic to read.
Kim & Kim - Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre
Punk rock bounty hunters in space? That's the premise of Kim & Kim, a four-issue limited series (though a sequel is on the way). Kim and Kim are intergalactic bounty hunters who've had a recent run of bad luck. When they take a chance on a new bounty, they find themselves in over their heads with no idea of what to expect. This comic shines for many reasons — Visaggio's witty writing, Cabrera's vibrant colors, Cabrera's clean art—but its portrayal of women in particular is excellent. Kim and Kim don't need saving, and they'll kick your ass for suggesting it.
Supergirl: Being Super - Mariko Tamaki, Joelle Jones, Sandu Florea and Kelly Fitzpatrick
It took DC Comics a while to launch a Supergirl comic after the success of the TV series, but now they have three to choose from. My personal favorite? Supergirl: Being Super, written by Mariko Tamaki (of This One Summer fame). This limited series takes us back to Kara's days as a high school student as she hangs out with her friends, goes to school and helps her dad with chores. It's about Kara discovering who she might be, exploring the extent of her powers and finding out how strong she really is — in more ways than one.
Faith - Jody Houser, Frances Portela and Marguerite Sauvage
One thing that's missing in modern-day media is stories about women of different sizes that don't have losing weight as a primary storyline. These stories are pretty much nonexistent when it comes to superheroes: the unrealistic body type of giant breasts, waists so tiny you can fit your hands around them and clothes that cling to the body in a way that make you say "Fabric doesn't work like that" are enough to make anyone feel bad about how they look. Enter Faith, a plus-size superhero who is smart, confident and incredibly funny. Her story isn't about her weight — it's just about how great she is, a refreshing change from the traditional portrayal of women in comics.
Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat - Kate Leth, Brittney Williams and Natasha Allegri
If you loved Marvel's Jessica Jones on Netflix (which, if you haven't watched it, you need to do so immediately), then you'll be familiar with the character of Patsy Walker ('Trish' in the show). This comic follows Patsy's adventures as the superhero Hellcat, and it's an easy entry into Marvel's comics if you've been intimidated and wondering where to start. It's a light, fun read in which Patsy starts a business, hangs out with her lady superhero friends, and just … is awesome. All around awesome.
Princess Princess Ever After - Katie O’Neill
Katie O'Neill's graphic novel tells the story of Princess Amira, who rescues Princess Sadie from the tower she's been kept in. The two join forces because, really, who needs to wait for a prince to save you? These princesses can save themselves — and each other. It's an adorable all-ages comic that revels in being silly and warmhearted and that will leave you smiling long after you finish it.
Princess Jellyfish - Akiko Higashimura
We all have our domains of geekdom. Tsukimi Kurashita's a jellyish geek — she's obsessed with the otherworldly-seeming creatures. She's recently moved to Tokyo and has found refuge in an apartment building that is solely for girl geeks, regardless of interest. But when Tsukimi meets a breathtaking young woman, she knows that her housemates won't approve of their friendship — geeks have to stick together, popular girls need not apply! That's just the first surprise in this heartwarming, adorable manga series that serves as a tribute to the amazing geekiness of ladies.
Jem and the Holograms - Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell, M. Victorial Robado and Emma Vieceli
"Wasn't that a cartoon series from the '80s?" you may be asking yourself, and the answer is Yes. It was also apparently a pretty terrible movie. But put all that aside, because Jem and the Holograms is also a pretty amazing comic. Comics for licensed properties can be hit or miss, but this one is very, very hit. It features our favorite girl band as they begin to navigate their newfound fame and tangle with The Misfits, their arch-rivals (or are they?). This is a sweet depiction of friendship and camaraderie with all sorts of female characters. The art is superb (original artist Sophie Campbell has left the series, replaced by Emma Vieceli) and M. Victoria Robado's colors just leap off the page.