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She Has No Head! – 8 Great (NEW) Female Positive Ongoings You Should Be Reading

People are always asking me for comic recommendations with good female portrayals.  There are a lot of them of course, but I find when people ask for ongoing books, rather than collected trades, or stand alone graphic novels, or even limited series, it’s a bit harder to find as many as I’d like that fill that role.  So I thought I’d spend some time pulling together a column talking about a few that I think are worth checking out as a nice “here read this!” when people ask me for recommendations.  However, as I researched what I wanted to put on the list, it became obvious that we have surprising number of very new books that are looking pretty damn good.  And so this list quickly morphed into “8 Great NEW Female Positive Ongoings”.  The great thing about that is that all of the books on this list are very easy to jump onto now, as not one of them is currently beyond their third issue.  The worrying thing about that is it’s hard to know with many of these how long they’ll be around.  But if we all buy and support and talk about them, maybe we can help them become well established enough to be with us for a good long while?

This list skews pretty mainstream, which initially surprised me since I read a fair amount of independent work, and independent work on the whole tends to be more female positive to my mind, but in doing this list I realized that while it’s quite easy to find indie graphic novels, trades, and limited series that fit this criteria, ongoing are a bit of a different animal and when I limited my list to “new” it became an even smaller group.  Still, only half the list is DC & Marvel, and at least two books are very independent, so I hope there’s a little something here for everyone.   As always I welcome any good “female positive” (and new would be good!) recommendations of books I may have missed in the comments.

08. ANGEL & FAITH

From: Christos Gage (writer), Rebekah Isaacs (art), Dan Jackson (colors) via Dark Horse Comics

Why: Faith was never my favorite character on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but she was always interesting to watch and she was a character that stirred the pot in good ways, even if she got on my nerves.  However, in comics (and this comic series particularly) she’s pretty great.  She makes a good foil to Angel, and she keeps things light and less brooding.  Faith doesn’t work so well for me as the lead on a book, but as a co-lead, she’s turning out to be rather brilliant.

In this series, Faith is helping to “rehabilitate” Angel after some truly terrible things that happened in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 run – though I don’t think you have to have read that run to be able to understand what’s happening here as they bring new readers up to speed pretty easily.  Nobody else wants much to do with Angel after the events from Season 8, which is a perfect fit for Faith who is a bit of an outcast herself.  Faith and Angel are two characters that have needed, and frequently seem to need time and again, serious redemption, and so they play nicely off of each others strengths and weaknesses.  Angel is on a mission here to right the wrong he’s done, and though Faith suspects it’s a bad path, she’s busy both getting his back and keeping an eye on him for when it will eventually all go horribly wrong.

So far it’s a hell of a lot of fun.  Gage has a great handle on both the main character’s voices and he’s moving the plot along briskly, with just enough time for some nice character work. While the Angel series at IDW was quite good on the whole, it is nice to have all of the Whedonverse characters back under the same publishing roof at Dark Horse, as this series and the Buffy Season 9 series tie loosely to each other in the best of ways, and as they should.  Rebekah Isaacs’ artwork, as always, is simply a joy to behold.  Everything is beautiful and well-considered and the storytelling is simply sublime. More detailed review of issue #1.

Stats: Angel & Faith is currently on issue #3, with issue #4 dropping in two weeks.  Still plenty early to jump on board.

Female Positive Bonus Points: In addition to a very strong female lead and some good female secondary characters, this book is drawn by the always fantastic Rebekah Isaacs.

07. PRINCELESS

From: Jeremey Whitley (story), M. Goodwin (art/colors), Jung-Ha Kim (letters/colors) via Action Lab Comics

Why: Though Princeless is TECHNICALLY a mini-series, it’s designed to be at least five of them running back to back with four issues a piece, so that’s 20-issues if all goes well and I feel okay calling that an “ongoing,” for now.  I also think it’s not a bad way to run a small press book as it makes it easy for new readers to jump on at each new section and formats it nicely for trades, should that be an option.  Regardless, Princeless is just excellent comics.  Though it is a YA book suitable for all ages, I found the humor to be nicely adult in the way that a great Pixar movie or Simpsons episode is – entertaining for kids – but plenty for the adults to enjoy on another level – and that’s a big difference for me with YA books.  It’s also probably a pretty great business model as it’s hard to justify the cost of a comic for a kid when they have so much other media at their disposal to enjoy that frequently gets them more bang for their buck.  But if you can enjoy it and the kid you bought it for can enjoy it…well that seems like a pretty good dollar value.

The story of Princeless is that of a Princess (Adrienne) trapped in a tower (much to her chagrin) and guarded by a dragon as she waits for a prince to rescue her.  But this princess has decided she’s had it with that and instead escapes, commandeers the dragon, and heads off to rescue her sisters, similarly trapped in towers and awaiting their princes.  It’s wonderful fun and the art is absolutely fantastic.  Full of popping color, expressive characters, and flawless fluid storytelling.  It’s one of my favorite new books around. Sue and I talked about Princeless #1 on Episode #029 of 3 Chicks Review Comics.

StatsPrinceless #1  arrives in stores this Wednesday 11/06/11.  It is already available on Graphicly.

Female Positive Bonus Points: Not only is this about a great young heroine that thwarts stereotype at every turn and opts to be the master of her own destiny, but it’s a heroine of color too, which is far too rare.

06. BIRDS OF PREY

From: Duane Swierczynski (story), Jesus Saiz (art), Allen Passalaqua, Nei Ruffino (colors) via DC Comics

Why: I didn’t expect to like this title much.  After struggling with last year’s Birds of Prey relaunch which never quite worked for me (too many characters and terrible art) I picked this second re-launch up only because I am a huge fan of Jesus Saiz.  Imagine my surprise to find an utterly delightful story about some great female superheroes?  Swierczynski is taking his time building his team (at the end of issue #2 we finally have all four players in place, though just barely) and so far the cocktail he has mixed is quite interesting.  The relationship between Dinah (Black Canary) and new character Starling is flat out wonderful and it’s already obvious that much more serious (but sometimes seemingly off her rocker) Katana is going to add a great element to their dynamic.  Poison Ivy is an x-factor that has just been added to the mix, but given what Swierczynski’s done so far, I have no doubt that she will make things even more interesting.

The plot thus far is interesting enough, but it’s clearly just there as a framework to hang good character introductions and development on, which is fine with me.  The more character development the better I say.  Jesus Saiz is maybe the best I’ve ever seen him in issue #2 (colored by Passalaqua) as he manages to draw drop dead gorgeous ladies without the need for any aggressive male gaze.  This is a great offering for the “female team book” of DC’s line, and the skeptics (by which I mean me) would do well to remember what a surprise this book turned out to be.  I wrote about issue #2 here.

Stats: Birds of Prey is two issues in, with #3 dropping later this month.

Female Positive Bonus Points: All ladies, all the time.  All our leads are great and interesting female characters – including some villain/anti-hero types:  Black Canary, Starling (a brand new character), Katana, and Poison Ivy.  Barabara Gordon also made a small cameo and I suspect she’ll be back eventually.  Additionally, we finally have not only a lady of color on the BoP team, but an artist capable of drawing her as such.  It’s a win all around.

05.  WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN

From: Jason Aaron (story), Chris Bachalo (pencils and colors), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, and Al Vey (inks) via Marvel Comics

Why: This was one of the most interesting books I read of late, in part because it just feels weird.  It doesn’t feel like a mainstream “big two” comic and I mean that in the best possible way.  It feels ballsy and freewheeling and entirely unconcerned with following any kind of template.  The first issue is basically 28 pages of Wolverine and Kitty Pryde taking some Department of Education people on a tour of the new school.  Nothing happens – except a tour of the school (which of course goes horribly wrong), kooky introductions to some of the students and teachers, and a peek at what a financial nightmare and stress headache the whole thing is for those in charge – and yet it’s utterly enjoyable.  Aaron and Bachalo are working together in perfect synch here, playing off of each others strengths expertly.  The end result is a bizarre comic that feels like two dudes standing on the edge of a cliff and daring each other to jump.  Or maybe they already did?

Aaron has a great grasp on the character voices, and already you can feel him slipping into wonderful character development between characters that we haven’t necessarily seen mashed up together in a long time. Bachalo is absolutely killing it on the visuals, darting from insanely detailed double page spreads to traditional nine panel grids of talking heads with ease.  He’s at his kinetic unbridled enthusiastic best here and the only downside is that whenever we get a fill-in issue (and it will happen…I think it’s already scheduled for issue #4) it’s going to be a major disappointment.

In the end, I sort of have no idea what to expect from this comic yet, but it’s filled with an interesting female supporting cast (Idie, Husk, Rachel Grey, and Warbird) have already made somewhat significant appearances and it appears that Kitty Pryde is going to headline alongside Wolverine, so it’s off to a great female positive start.  I wrote more about the first issue here.

Stats: It couldn’t be easier to jump onto this title as it is brand new.  Only issue #1 is out thus far and #2 is due in late November.

Female Positive Bonus Points: Kitty Pryde, one of the best Marvel characters around looks to be the co-lead of this book.  Additionally in traditional X-Men team fashion there are a ton of supporting ladies from students to faculty and including a Shia’r bodyguard (Warbird) already introduced, so there are potentially a lot of great female characters waiting in the wings as this title ramps up.  And since it’s Bachalo, the fashion and character design is top notch and smart.

04. RACHEL RISING

From: Terry Moore (does it all) via Abstract Studios

Why: Terry Moore’s latest effort is a fascinating and surprisingly dark tale (issue #2 will seriously get you) of a woman named Rachel that literally wakes up from a shallow grave.  She’s lost some of her memory and is trying to piece together what happened to her and why she seems different – in appearance and in even more disturbing other ways – since waking up in the grave.  Meanwhile another mysterious woman is on the scene, though we don’t know to what end yet, and some people around town, including a small child are committing horrible crimes as causally as they would take out the trash.  It’s all related of course, and very intriguing as we’re in the dark nearly as much as Rachel.  Surprises around every turn and solid character work, paired with gorgeous black and white visuals all combine to make this one of the best new books I’m reading.

This is Terry Moore, doing what Terry more does best – creating great female characters (more than one) and turning them loose on the page with nice supernatural twists.  The art is stunningly beautiful, the plot is brutal and unexpectedly brisk, and the writing is nicely pared down and almost utilitarian (but in a good way).

Rachel Rising is full of mysteries and it feels as a reader like you’ve just begun tugging on a loose string to a very large sweater.  The unraveling is going to take a while, but it’s going to be a hell of a ride. Read more about issue #1 here.

Stats: Rachel Rising #3 drops this week and is excellent.

Female Positive Bonus Points: Terry Moore draws women as few others can, with an incredible attention to detail and a variety of body types and designs that speak volumes before his characters ever utter a word.  This book is filled with traditional Terry Moore ladies, and that is a great thing.

03. BATWOMAN

From:  J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman (story), J.H. Williams III (art), Dave Stewart (colors) via DC Comics

Why: This is easily the most beautiful comic book on stands today.  By perhaps miles.  And that is in a field of some truly gorgeous comic books (many of them on this list).  It’s also currently being very well handled on the story side by Williams and Blackman.  It’s full of fascinating female characters – three – count them three! – great supporting characters in addition to our lead, and it’s just a great example of what more superhero comics should aim for – smart, well-considered, beautiful, and innovative. Batwoman is not just a great superhero story with a fantastic female cast, it’s also the chance to see a brilliant artist (Williams) experiment with the form right in front of your eyes.  Batwoman is a visual smorgasbord as you watch Williams literally push and pull on boundaries, developing his style and taking it to new heights with every issue.  Visually you never know what’s coming next, in the best possible way.

Fans have been waiting a long time for Kate Kane’s story, and even a long time since we finally got the first exceptional piece of it in 2009 in the form of Greg Rucka’s Detective Comics run, but I’m happy to report that it was absolutely worth the wait.  I wrote more about issue #2 here and Sue and I talk about Batwoman #1 on Episode #26 of 3 Chicks Review Comics.

Stats: Batwoman #3 drops this week.  Get on board now, and if you want to get even more out of the series, pick up the absolutely fantastic Batwoman: Elegy trade – I recommend the hardcover (cause it’s awesome and well worth it) but the softcover is out now as well and for under $12 on Amazon, it’s a steal.

Female Positive Bonus Points: Well, obviously, we’ve got not only one of the best new female characters created in a long time with Kate Kane/Batwoman, but we’ve got one of the only major out gay characters for the big two, and that’s huge.  Add to that the fact that Kate is surrounded by a great female supporting cast in the form of Bette Kane/Flambird, Detective Sawyer, and none other than Cameron Chase and it’s an embarrassment of riches, that I’m all too happy to enjoy.

02.  WONDER WOMAN

From:  Brian Azzarello (story), Cliff Chiang (art), Matthew Wilson (colors) via DC Comics

Why: The best thing hands down about the new DCU for me is that it has finally brought me a Wonder Woman comic (after far too long a hiatus) that I can love the hell out of.  It’s hard to have a character you love showing up monthly in a book that is just a bad floundering mess, so this new Wonder Woman has been an especially big treat for me.  With a dark horror story spin so far Azzarello and Chiang have delivered a fresh and modern take on Diana’s world that is wildly compelling.  Chiang’s clean, simple, and strikingly beautiful artwork is a great fit for Azzarrello’s darker stories and keeps it from becoming TOO dark or graphic while still capturing all the subtle nuance we need for the tale.  They’re a great creative team and while every idea they’ve had for Diana doesn’t delight me (see: Diana’s revised origin as a daughter of Zeus) so long as this is the creative team, I have every confidence, and frankly…excitement, that they can pull it off and even convince me that they were right.  The best creators usually can.

So far in this book Diana has returned to Themyscira with an injured Hermes and a young woman named Zola who she is trying to protect from Hera thanks to “sexy” Zeus shenanigans.  But there’s more going on than just that in Azzarello’s story and a lot of plot threads have already been laid down that seem to be building into a powerful crescendo.  It’s damn good stuff, and something Diana is long overdue for, which is at heart just a powerful, smart and well-rendered vision for her and her book. I wrote more about issue #1 here.

Stats: There are currently two issues released and issue #3 (which should have dropped this coming week I believe but is not on the schedule) should be out soon.

Female Positive Bonus Points: This book is chock full of layered, complex female characters – both hero and villain alike.  It’s also got an artist that is one of the best around at delivering powerful, beautiful ladies sans objectification.

01.  BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9

From:  Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss (story/writing), Georges Jeanty (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks), Michelle Madsen (colors) via Dark Horse.

Why: A lot of of people shy away from the Buffy titles if they didn’t watch the television show, but the truth is that these are exceptional comics, regardless of whether you watched the show or not.  While a certain amount of nuance and subtlety will likely be lost on you initially if you’re a new reader, that will eventually not be true at all and on the whole, they’re surprisingly new reader friendly.  For this “Season 9″ series I would say all you need to know is this:

Buffy Summers is a vampire slayer.  She has some amazing friends that help her in that battle against evil.  A while back they destroyed a hellmouth (their former home of Sunnydale California) and they did it by empowering all the “potential slayers” in the with real power.  Sharing this slayer power was an amazing thing, but it had consequences and in Season 8 (something big happened – SPOILER – I’m not going to say it here so I don’t ruin it for others that might want to read Season 8 ) and as a result in this new series, a lot is different in Buffy’s world.  But she’s still a vampire slayer, and she still has some amazing friends that help her in that battle against evil.

See.  Now you know everything you need to know to go out and buy one of the best comics I’ve read this year.  I’ve battled with my 3 Chicks co-stars about Buffy because they claim to not be interested, but for anyone interested in really well done, smart, layered female characters with a feminist bent, it honestly does not get better than Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  The entire manifesto of the concept and the series was one of feminism.  Additionally, unlike so many of our beloved big two female superheroes that get passed around from creator to creator, some of whom care very much and some that don’t care at all, because Joss Whedon is involved, the Buffy story is always done right.  The creators always care, and I’m here to tell you that it makes a huge difference.

The first three issues of Buffy Season 9 find Buffy living and working in San Francisco, with a few new friends and a whole mess of old ones.  She’s hated by a lot of the world (which is not that unusual) and she’s dealing the best way she knows how – with a stake and witty banter.  The art by George Jeanty in this new series has been exceptional thus far and the writing from Andrew Chambliss is hitting that perfect sweet spot of sass and seriousness.  So far Season 9 is a homerun.  I wrote more about issue #1 here.

Stats: Buffy The Vampire Slayer #3 drops this week and I can tell you unequivocally, it’s the best issue yet!

Female Positive Bonus Points: Buffy, one of the best pop culture heroines ever created, and an exceptional example of a perfect transition from the small screen to comics is the obvious lead and she honestly puts a surprising number of female comics characters to shame with her awesomeness. Add to that a vast and epically powerful cast of female characters that are layered and impressively three-dimensional.  And lastly, you’ve got a creative team (and this has been true on every issue of Buffy I’ve read beginning with Season 8 ) that are impressively devoted to these characters and have literally no interesting in exploiting them.  The creators on Buffy have amazing love for the characters and it’s evident on every page.

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***FYI – She Has No Head! is actively accepting review copies of “female positive comics and graphic novels” for future columns.  Please get in touch via email (using the CSBG “contact us” button above) to discuss.***

63 Comments

[…] There’s a new She Has No Head! up on Comics Should Be Good. […]

I’m glad an article like this popped up. Too many people spent so much time focusing on Starfire and Catwoman. I’m not saying that it was undeserved, but they completely ignored the strong portrayals of females in Wonder Woman and Birds of Prey, in order to condemn DC.

Rachel Rising has great art and a nice story, but also some nasty ‘buts’. Each issue is something like 18 uncolored pages of story for $3.99. The 1st issue just seemed to stop and left me wondering if it was missing pages. The second introduced an ambiguously-gendered character named ‘Aunt Johnny’ but didn’t tell me whether they were gay, transgendered or what. At that point I just couldn’t justify staying with it, despite really enjoying Echo, and seeing a lot of potential in Rachel.

I did like Buffy, Angel and Wolverine and the X-Men.

Just added PRINCELESS and RACHEL RISING to my pull list. Thanks, Kelly!

[…] Check out the article to find out more and if you haven’t already go order Princeless:  http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/11/07/she-has-no-head-8-great-new-female-positive-ongo… └ Tags: comic, comics, positive female characters, positive female role models, […]

So honored to have one of our books on the list!

Kelly, I would also have added Spencer’s Morning Glories at Image, Bendis’ Powers at Marvel/Icon, Gage’s Avengers Academy and DnA’s New Mutants at Marvel, and, even though it’s been trashed for not being inclusive to new readers, Levitz’s Legion of SuperHeroes for strong female characters / representation.

I been hearing good things about Heroes For Hire and the pre-Nu 52 Batgirl series and picked up a bunch of those back issues over the last month. The recommender: my sister Melissa who I previously got hooked on Terry Moore through Strangers In Paradise and is currently reading the Anita Blake adaptions because she’s a big fan of the Laurell Hamilton novels.

I really like Birds of Prey, but I don’t think Poison Ivy will fit in on the team. She seems so powerful that she’ll overshadow the others. Why bother fighting with guns, swords, and fists when Poison Ivy can summon and control giant man-eating plants?

Great stuff Kel!

Rachel Rising has great art and a nice story, but also some nasty ‘buts’. Each issue is something like 18 uncolored pages of story for $3.99. The 1st issue just seemed to stop and left me wondering if it was missing pages. The second introduced an ambiguously-gendered character named ‘Aunt Johnny’ but didn’t tell me whether they were gay, transgendered or what. At that point I just couldn’t justify staying with it, despite really enjoying Echo, and seeing a lot of potential in Rachel.

While certainly not an unfair criticism (it certainly is everyone’s prerogative to decide what is “worth” their money), Echo did the exact same thing (18 uncolored pages and issues that don’t have traditional endings), so I’m confused as to why you didn’t have the problem with Echo, as well.

@Cuda B: I think those titles deserve all the hell they’re getting, but it doesn’t mean we can’t ALSO talk about the titles that are getting it right. Room for both in comics blogging!

@Maclay: $3.99 is a high price point, but not too bad for an independent. I don’t care for much modern coloring, so black and white frankly pleases me, especially if the art is that good. I did not mind the ambiguity of Aunt Jonny…not sure why that’s an issue? Especially only two issues in…?

@sonofbaldwin: Yay!

@Dave Dwonch: You guys deserve it, thanks for a great book!

@Darryl B.: You know, I considered all of those (except Legion which I don’t read). But I don’t like most of them enough to write passionately about them. Except Powers, but so far as I can tell, Powers hasn’t had a new issue since February…? Gosh, is that right? Anyway, it makes it hard to recommend as an “ongoing”.

Heroes For Hire has been hit and miss in my opinion. Unfortunately/regardless, it has been cancelled. A new Villains For Hire mini has been launched. I wrote about the point one issue this week.
http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=4108

H4H will be sorely missed, when it was good it was VERY GOOD.

@sandwich eater: I guess since I didn’t think I would like the book at all and I REALLY do I’m willing to see what they can do with Poison Ivy before I decide. :)

@Scott: Thanks.

Good stuff. I loved Moore’s Strangers in Paradise from the very first #1 issue. After a (long) while it took a wrong turn for me and just got too… absurd, I guess. I love his art, but I’ve been gun shy of his writing ever since. I might try this out in trade, but even if I like it, I’ll be wondering when the other shoe’s gonna fall.

Keith, as someone who totally understands the people who dropped SiP after awhile (even though I stuck with it the whole time and I think eventually was rewarded with a stellar final 15 or so issues), let me assure you that the Moore you’ll read in Echo and Rachel Rising is a changed writer – he writes with a different sense of purpose and direction. Really solid stuff.

@Keith/Brian: Agree 100% – with both of you. I too loved SiP initially, thought it went off the rails and gave up on it. Echo didn’t have that problem and RR feels very tight to me thus far.

Good to know. I did stick with SiP until the end (although I was in full trades-only mode by then). Thanks! I will definitely check these out.

Oh! BTW – for the anniversary – it’s time for the MUSICAL EPISODE!

LOLOLOLOL!

Would you agree that the later issues of SiP (the last trade, basically, although a little bit of the second-to-last trade) had a better sense of direction that the stories from the middle parts of the series?

I always enjoyed Stranger in Paradise, but it never became more to me than what I read to tide me over until the next Love & Rockets comic came out.

What about Supergirl? I know it’s not the buzzy-est of the New 52, but there’s something really rich about how they’re re-introducing Kara’s character. I like her sense of isolation, discovery, and alienation, and I feel like their laying down the foundation for some Buffy-esque metaphor and commentary about what it means to grow up in a tough world.

Anyway, nice list! You sold me on Rachel Rising and Princeless.

@Kelly/Brian: Regarding the price, I guess my cut-off point for cost & page count must just fall somewhere between Echo’s $3.50 and Rachel’s $3.99. Either that or the sorry state of the economy has just made me more picky. Re: Johnny, there’s a couple of reasons it bugs me, first that since it was just glanced over, it gives me the impression that it’s not a major plot point, so why not be a little more clear about it? Secondly, when I read, I generally attribute voices to characters, and I found that difficult without further explanation of Johnny’s character. Also – pronoun trouble.

No single one (or two) of the issues I brought up would have lead to me dropping the book. It was just too much altogether to justify it. I hope I haven’t sounded too nasty about it, these are just things I would have liked to have been told before dedicating any of my (admittedly quite limited) cash-pool towards.

@Keith: Nice try! VETO!

@Brian: I gave up toward the end so can’t answer, but I’ve always meant to go back…should I?

@Buttler: L&R is the best, not a good fit for this list I was doing…maybe a future piece though. The problem with writing about L&R is that I really need to go back and re-read and really think about what I’d like to say about it, and as fun as that sounds, I just don’t have the time for it right now.

@pdnoosh: I love the art on Supergirl but I’m not yet convinced on the story, in part because literally almost nothing has happened yet. Could turn out to be good…time will tell. Glad you’re going to check out Rachel Rising and PrinceLess – I hope you enjoy them!

@Maclay: Everyone has their own tolerance level with money and value, totally understandable.

I guess I tend to like when characters that might not necessarily be straight and/or cis-gendered are treated the same way that a straight and/or cis-gendered character is. By which I mean to say it’s not addressed at all. I don’t actually know many other people’s orientation or “status” in the book yet…so I don’t feel I need to know Aunt Jonny’s either…does that make sense?

I’m glad to hear some talk about Rachel Rising. It’s a great book and Terry Moore is astounding once again. I can’t believe that he followed Echo by jumping straight into one of the darkest and creepiest books out there. I nominated issue 2 for the October scariest comics of all time. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt THAT … unsettled by two pages of comics.

BRRRR!

I’m also enjoying Birds of Prey. I never read the old series. I’m surprised to hear that Starling is a brand new character. I really enjoy her so far.

[…] 8 great (new) female positive ongoing comic books you should be reading. […]

I’ll definitely try Princeless, because of all the books that one sounded the most interesting to me. I’m not fond of Terry Moore’s soap opera antics in SiP and I’ve never tried Echo so no. I liked Gail Simone’s run of Wonder Woman … it was just the right kind of weird and cool, I should see if it’s collected, but I’m not really fond of the big two’s books (I mostly buy DC). Legion is awesome and I don’t understand this new reader unfriendliness thing. It’s a Legion of Superheroes in the future. They do what superheroes do, end story. LOL Of course I’ve been a Legion fan since Brainy starred in Impulse and while we’re on the subject the new Impulse really should have gotten her own book but seeing as Wally is in limbo, its highly unlikely his children exist in the new 52. And if anyone cares to see Supergirl Adventures in the 9th grade … there’s this group on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/185100024881831/ the first book really was a cute book and its a pity it wasn’t continued.

X-Men Legacy belongs on here. It’s essentially a Rogue solo series and Mike Carey has done amazing things with the character since coming on board. Even when the focus of the book was on Professor Xavier, his story was essentailly bringing him to the point where he was able to cure Rogue of her inflictions and stabilize her powers.

Carey has treated Rogue with great respect, and has resisted the obvious course of action by having her remain her own woman now that she can touch others. It’s a great book.

What?

No iZombie?

@Joe: Glad to hear you’re enjoying both RR and BoP!

@Jesus S!: I’m one of those people that can’t get on board with Legion. I tried in the relaunch but it was completely intractable to me, which was disappointing.

@RJDinDSM: I’m a big fan of Legacy and of Rogue and Mike Carey has been an excellent writer for her and has done great things with that book over the last several years. However, I do not feel Legacy is at its best right now so I have trouble recommending others to jump on just now – especially since Carey is leaving in two issues and I don’t know what the book will be after that. Also, it’s not remotely “new” which is a pre-requisite for this specific list. I would however, recommend it as a good book in general and a female positive one.

@Bill in Austin: I have to be honest, I don’t care for i,Zombie. I bought about 18 issues before giving up (largely because the Allred art is absolutely sublime) but it’s just not my cup of tea…I think it’s an issue in the writing, as a lot of Roberson’s stuff has not worked for me. Stuff that I would have thought I’d love (like the Cinderella mini-series). Tomayto, Tomahto I suppose. It’s also not “new” enough for this list, but that’s a whole other thing I guess.

I liked BtVS the tv show, but BtVS the comic (season 8) was so mind numbingly awful that I have not bothered with the followup comics at all.

I’ll definitely give Rachel Rising a try, and already read the Marvel/DC books listed.

You should take a look at the Dark Swan series by Sea Lion Books. It’s an ongoing adaptation of the Richelle Mead novel series. /shameless plug

http://www.sealionkids.com/wordpress/title-details/103

I appreciate and ditto Kelly’s comments about Aunt Johny. And I’m definitely one of the folks who came back to Moore with Echo after dropping SiP for meandering. Much tighter stories with solid direction.

…just wanted to point out that my post said ( Season 8 ). Damn smileys. :)

Ha. Four of those titles are already on my pull list: Wolverine and the X-Men, Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Rachel Rising.

I’m usually the first to complain about $3.99 not being worth the price, but I make an exception for something like Rachel Rising. The fact that it’s completely independent makes me feel pretty good about supporting the writer/artist. And as long as it’s good, then I think it’s worth the extra dollar.

I can understand how someone would feel like that’s a low page count for the price (it is), but it’s harder for me to understand why the fact that it’s in black and white somehow means the value goes down. Maybe it’s just ’cause I read more manga and indie comics than the average super-hero comics fan, but I don’t really equate colours with added value.

I just realised I pull every female led dc comic, and of the books I read I find them all far more compelling than the male led ones. Loved all these mentioned and catwoman.

@Basque– Check out Princeless #1– it’s 28 full color pages of story, completely creator owned with a great story and stunning art. Definitely worth your extra dollar!

What, no love for Hit-Girl from Kickass? hahaha

I’ve been surprisingly impressed with how cool Wonder Woman is so far. I should give Birds Of Prey and maybe Batwoman shot.

Wolverine and the X-Men not so much, but that’s mostly based on how terrible I thought the whole Schism thing turned out.
Couldn’t care less about the Buffy stuff.

I love four of the female character lead titles you listed (Batwoman, Buffy, Rachel Rising and Wonder Woman) and the two of the ensemble titles (Birds of Prey and Wolverine & the X-Men).

I would echo some of the lead character (Batgirl) and ensemble books (Avengers Academy and New Mutants) that others mentioned.

I would also throw in few more titles in both categories, including Girl Genius, Stumptown (it’s supposed to be a series of minis, isn’t it?), and Fables.

What do you think of Marvel’s book adaptions that are basically a series of minis (Oz and Jane Austin)?

The Buffy Season 8 comic started strong, then went in some stupid directions and delivered a WEAK ending. I haven’t worked up the courage to read Season 9 yet, and probably won’t until it’s over and I hear from credible sources it isn’t a repeat of Season 8’s ridiculousness (and if Loeb writes another arc, I probably won’t bother at all). As a devout Buffy fan, Season 8 just pi$$ed me off that much.

You put the ass in sass.

And Wonder Woman #3 comes out next week. On schedule.

Dani Moonstar of the New Mutants is a great female characer who is now the new leader of the team. Even without her powers, she is one of the most kick-ass female characters in comics today.

@Kelly Thompson

What is your opinion on this piece of advice, from the 6th episode of “The Critic”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnHfWdlCaQk

Would you say it could be applied to the comic book industry today?

I’m really happy to see Wolverine and the X-Men listed.

A lot has been said about this book’s particular strengths, but for me, Kitty was the real selling point and was the biggest part of what made this work. Her energy and character really represent the tone of what this book is going for and I think that as long as Aaron keeps her at the forefront, we’re in for a keeper.

Funny thing is that I was never really a die-hard Kitty fan or anything, though of course I loved her role in Whedon’s run on Astonishing (who didn’t?).

Kelly: I’m curious what your take on I, Vampire is, if you’ve read it. For me, Mary Queen of Blood was the coolest new character introduced in the DCnU. I just find her a generally fascinating character who leaps off the page. That said, I can see some grumpy feminists bemoaning her use of sexuality, bladdy blah, but I feel that that would be unfair to the strength and nuance of her character.

Sure she’s a baddie…..but Fialkov is just doing such a great job on her voice.

best picks ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Travis Pelkie (I put the ass in sass)

November 9, 2011 at 1:34 am

I know “you put the ass in sass” was intended as a putdown, but I like the rhythm of it. I think I’ll use it for a personal motto…

Haven’t caught any of these, but I should. They all sound good. I’m behind on Buffy s8, (although I know what happens at the end), but once I catch up with that, I’ll probably pick up the other titles.

I don’t have a full run of SIP, but the … circular, repetitive nature of the book is certainly something I can see turning people off. Terry Moore was super nice when I met him up at the Boston Con, though!

Back to Buffy… my favorite part of s8 was reading issue 34 (you know which one) off the spinner rack at the grocery store. Oh yeah!

And speaking of Buffy, and almost completely off topic, have you been watching SMG’s new show Ringer? It’s…odd, but neat in a way. It’s a great dumb soap opera type show, but it hits you with enough “oh s#!t” moments to keep me coming back. Although the “logic” of the show would collapse sooooo easily…

And you all laughed at my Buffy/Mr Fantastic fan fic. Who’s laughing now?!

You put the ass in sass isn’t an insult.

Travis Pelkie (I put the ass in sass)

November 9, 2011 at 3:06 am

Sorry, Joe, I guess I was reading the other part of that comment (about WW being on schedule) as though it was a knock on Kelly. I guess I’ve read too many comments to Kelly that WERE insults and I misread yours. My apologies.

I knew I should have said “I think it’s a putdown…”

It is a great line, though, Joe, and I hope you don’t mind me stealing it.

Hey Kelly,

Picking up five of these: Wolverine and X-men, Buffy, Angel/Faith, Rachel Rising and Batwoman (so amazing). Love them all so far. PrinceLess looks kinda awesome, might add it. Birds doesnt interest me too much. But i might trade wait WW.

Anyways. I was wondering what you thought of the new Batgirl? I just added it with #3 (the other 2 in mail). Is it not on the list because its Gail Simone so not surprising? Or just not as great as these?

Thanks for the list it was great.

This is a fantastic lead. I definitely need to read more comics w/ strong female role models.

A favorite quote of mine from the great Joss Whedon:

Question from the audience: So, why do you write these strong female characters?
Joss: Because you’re still asking me that question.

[…] For example. Not listed there is also iZ0mbie or Invincible by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead writer). All superhero books, but, without or less of the sexism. […]

@XK: I did not like the end of BtVS Season 8, but I thought initially the series was great. In fact, I just recently re-read the first trade and it’s fantastic. I think Season 9 is even better because Jeanty’s work is even stronger and because the focus is smaller and we’re getting more time with our core characters, but if you didn’t like the first Season 8 trade it’s true that Buffy the comic series may not be for you.

@Basque: I agree with you on paying more to support good indie comics being something I don’t mind at all. And I think it’s very true with Rachel Rising.

I suspect the “this is worth less than the price tag because it isn’t in color” is a few things – perhaps most logically that a colorist is not being paid, it likely takes a bit less time to produce, and costs less to print and therefore that should be reflected in the cover price. But for me, good art is good art and especially with independent work I don’t break it down that far.

@IAM FeAR: For what it’s worth I intensely disliked Shism and in the end completely did not buy the entire point of the break, but I still think Wolverine & The X-Men #1 was excellent.

@Dave Anderson: Stumptown is one of my favorite books and though it IS supposed to be a series of mini-series, since I have heard no word on it for a very long time I didn’t feel comfortable recommending it. As a trade I of course recommend the hell out of it. Though I am a big fan of Fables in general I don’t think they’re in an “awesome” place with their female characters right now and I’ve been relatively bored with the book for nearly the last year. That said, I’m anxiously awaiting the new Fairest series. High hopes!

I think some of the Marvel adaptations have been very good – all of the ones with Skottie Young on art have of course been absolutely brilliant, and I loved the Sense & Sensibility comic from 2010. In general I think they’re pretty interesting.

@C. Michael Hall: I agree with you on BtVS Season 8. I loved it initially and it really went off the rails for me toward the end (specifically the super-F*&#ing, which was absurd). I have a whole theory on that…but I’ll keep it to myself. I understand not wanting to be burned again by getting invested, but I will say in the meantime you’re missing out as Season 9 is so far even better than Season 8 and hands down one of the best comics I’m reading.

@Joe: I have no idea what “you put the ass in sass” means, but I’ll take your word for it that it’s not an insult. Regarding Wonder Woman – you are right! And I will edit the piece to reflect that – for some reason I had it in my head that it was supposed to release the same week as Batwoman.

@Steve: I like Dani Moonstar a lot, New Mutants on the whole however has been a bit hit and miss for me.

@Acer: Love The Critic. LOVE that clip. Especially his rules about “what to skip.”

@Paladin King: I liked I,Vampire (and Mary Queen of Blood). I don’t think I liked her as much as you did, but I think the concept of the book, despite being about vampires, is one of the more original in the new DCU. I wrote about I, Vampire here:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=3965

and a little bit here:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/10/24/she-has-no-head-2/

@Travis: I was reading that infamous Buffy comic in a crowded Starbucks and was none too pleased. The extreme eyerolling combined with “I hope nobody sees this” was so intense I’ll likely never forget the experience.

@Matthew3957: Thanks! I’m glad you like the list! To be honest, and I hate saying it because I am a huge fan of Gail Simone, but I do not like the new Bagirl book. I don’t like anything about it actually. I had issues with what they were doing with the character, but I read the first two issues in my shop to see if Simone could prove me wrong. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work for me. I am not a fan of Syaf’s art and find it distractingly bad here, I also don’t like the character/book direction, and I honestly don’t think it’s Simone’s best work…those three issues combine to make it a big skip for me. Much to my disappointment.

@Casey: Thanks! I hope some of these work out for you! And I love that quote by Whedon – one of my favorites.

2 words about “that” Buffy issue.

Brad. Meltzer.

I don’t think I need to say anything more. That’s one of the things Whedon’s done that I question about him, his absurdly high praise for Meltzer and Identity Crisis.

You said:
“I suspect the “this is worth less than the price tag because it isn’t in color” is a few things – perhaps most logically that a colorist is not being paid, it likely takes a bit less time to produce, and costs less to print and therefore that should be reflected in the cover price. But for me, good art is good art and especially with independent work I don’t break it down that far.”

about Rachel Rising, and while these are points that can be addressed, may I respectfully point out that Abstract Studios IS Terry Moore (along with his lovely wife whose name just escaped me). While a book like this would be something that Marvel or DC should be able to produce at a much lower cost than their normal output, this is IT that Terry is producing. He’s presumably putting up his own money, and has to make a go based on this and this alone (not counting his previous work, of course). I’m a little surprised, actually, that any self published books can sell for that cheap cover price and make any money (and from what I’ve heard in the past, they DON’T make money, the trades do).

Kelly dislikes Schism so much she refuses to spell it right :) (Normally I wouldn’t point out a minor typo like that, but I DO put the ass in sass, dammit!)

@Travis: Agreed on RR/Abstract Studios. It’s well worth the price to me.

It is true that I dislike Shism (sic) so much I refuse to spell it right…FOREVER.

Brad Meltzer is not my fav, it’s true. We can’t entirely blame him for the direction of Buffy Season 8 toward the end as I’m sure it was approved by Whedon and part of the plan from the beginning, but the execution could have been better. Much much better.

Thanks for the feedback on batgirl. I was not too happy that the Stephanie Brown run was cancelled. It was far from perfect, but still fun and entertaining especially given her weak development before the series.

I also have to agree that taking barbara out of the oracle role was not a fav decision of mine.

But Ill give it five issues probably see is Simone can pull it off. Its hope given how much she states she love the character of Barb she can but guess well have to wait and see after getting and reading the first two issues I have to say i share your trepidation.

I am happy to report that Kelly was completely correct: PRINCELESS and RACHEL RISING are excellent books!

my only issue with sonofbaldwin’s comment is the implication that Kelly might not have been correct in the first place…. :)

You should change the title to “Female-Positive Ongoing Comics”… it would make more sense.

I’ve always been a fan of “Buffy,” but I’ve been hesitant to read the comics because I feel that they could never do justice to the television show. What do people think — should I just pretend that the story ends with “Chosen” in Season 7, or should I “spoil” myself and start Season 8?

To be honest, I’m quite torn…

Sam Scott,

Do it. It’s still helmed (if not always written) by Joss Whedon. It’s an interesting and worthwhile exploration of what comes next for the Scooby Gang. (They also do some things visually that would have been impossible for a TV effects budget.) Do check it out.

CaseyJonesCaseyJones.com

A more modulated review of Batwoman #1: http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/books/14946895/roundtable-review-batwoman-1

I guess that review touches on the heart of what bugs me a little bit about the majority of the comics on this list (5 of 8 ) — I’m sure they do indeed feature strong, complex female characters, but they’re also all built like models and wearing tight-fitting clothing while physically fighting crime. Which is fine. It’s just not all that complex or varied, and I think that should be acknowledged in the review.

That said, I enjoy your reviews, and thank you.

@matthew3957: Well, I hope you like Batgirl, I know lots of people do. Come on back and let me know sometime how it turns out for you.

@sonofbaldwin: So glad you sought them out and liked them!

@Travis: :)

@Sam Scott: I say do it. It’s really worth it. Don’t expect the same thing as the TV show of course, but if you love comics and love Buffy there’s really no reason to hold back. The creative team is largely in tact and the characters are all really well represented on the page. One word of warning about “Season 8″ – it starts very strong, is great for a long while, and then takes a serious dive toward the end. I can’t remember for sure, but I’d say that I found the last 8 to 10 issues pretty disappointing. Season 9 however, has gotten things back on track wonderfully.

@Casey: Co-signed!

@Miguel: I’d argue that only 4 of the 8 wear “tight fitting clothing” but it’s a small quibble. “Built like models” bothers me less when characters are well drawn and not overly objectified, which is true of all of these titles. It’s tough to find comic characters that don’t look like models, because for men and women in comics, much like men and women in Hollywood, idealization is the standard. More variety would certainly be more interesting and welcomed, but I am happy to settle for “non-objectified”.

I guess my question to you would be – show me an ongoing monthly comic with strong complex female lead(s) where the lead is not physical and doesn’t “fight crime” in some fashion. I’d honestly love to know where those books are…but given what the vast majority of the monthly comics market is (i.e. superhero) I’m not sure I see them…anywhere…? Where are you finding them?

@sonofbaldwin: Thanks for picking up the book! I’m lettering Princeless #3 right now, and I have to say– Jeremy and M. are knocking it out of the park. If you thought #1 was good, wait until the ball really gets rolling!

Um, what the frell is a “Female Positive Ongoings” when its at home & why did these books specifically get mentioned? Why those titles and not say Batgirl, or Blackhawks, or Huntress, or Invincible, or New Mutants, or Teen Titans?

[…] Wie weet heb je nog een paar dagen vrij, om na te genieten van de feestdagen. Dan is het heerlijk om een keer met een goed stripboek op de bank te zitten en je onder te dompelen in een andere wereld. Jezebel zette de beste strips van vorig jaar op een rijtje, en dankzij de site She Has No Head beschikken we ook over een rij albums die één element gemeen hebben: een goede vrouwelijke hoofdpersoon. […]

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