There will always be a valley, always mountains we must scale

1. Roller skating.
2. Women in comic books.
3. Living in America.
4. Social media.
5. What you miss most from home.

Two of my favorite things. Women. Comics.

Two ways women can be “in comics”: as characters, and as creators.

Two things about female characters: firstly, that the comic medium is frequently flawed in its depiction of women. Secondly, that female characters in comics are nevertheless so often interesting, amazing characters compared to stories in other media, that I fell into reading comics just because of the female characters. So women in comics are particularly important to me, perhaps more so that in other media, which is particularly unfair.

Anyway, I don’t particularly want to talk about the flaws and problems with my particular fandoms today, let’s celebrate some awesome women in comics. I’ve been talking for years about Dinah Lance, Barbara Gordon and Renee Montoya, so I think I’ll focus on characters I discovered more recently.

Five Awesome Characters in Comics and Manga

Tara F. Chace (Queen and Country by Greg Rucka, Oni Press)

I realize Tara’s middle name is Felicity, but for people who have read these books, her full name is generally “Tara Fucking Chace,” because she is frankly the most bad ass super competent character in fiction as far as I’m concerned.

Queen and Country is an espionage series that ran from 2001 to 2007, set in MI6. Not in the slightest bit James Bondy, Q&C is as much about the political machinations and personal agendas of the British Secret Service than it is about the job, but the job is still there, taking its toll on the people who do it.

And Tara is really good at her job. The experience of reading Q&C is generally one of repeating over and over again, “damn, she’s good.”

Endo Kanna (20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa, English translation by Viz Media)

Becca handed this manga to me a few months ago and I devoured the whole series. And everyone is brilliant in it, but Kanna quickly earned a place in my heart.

(read right to left!)

Kanna is the niece of Endo Kenji, the convenience store clerk who discovers his childhood stories of saving the world are being acted out and turned against the world in terrifying ways, but finds himself unable to stop it. Growing up in an Orwellian Japan, Kanna is inspired by her uncle’s leadership to become a rebel herself, and discovers that, while her spoon bending ability seems useless, she has incredible powers of CHARISMA and LEADERSHIP.

Kanna is a hot headed, determined, young woman who longs to live up to her uncle’s legacy, so it’s obvious why I like her. She fumbles about her feelings, struggles with her relationship to her extended family, and powers her way through the series with an unstoppable momentum. That’s pretty much all I say say without serious spoilers, but in a series full of great characters, Kanna is the greatest.

Princess Adrienne (Princeless by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin, Action Lab Entertainment)

I’ve said it a couple of times, but I’ll say it here: Princeless is easily the best comic for girls I’ve seen in recent years – and by “for girls” I mean the target audience is obviously female children, and I would (and have) happily hand the book to girls under the age of twelve.

Adrienne is a snarky, headstrong princess who, according to a tradition that she thinks is stupid, is locked in a tower by her parents, guarded by a dragon for would-be suitors to slay for her hand. She sulks there for about a page, before she finds a sword under her bed, teams up with the dragon, and flies off to save her sisters.

I shouldn’t need to say more, so I won’t.

Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel, by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Marvel)

Alright, I admit it. I may be picking up more and more Marvel books these days. Blame DC’s stupid New52 and the editorial wankery around it. Anyway, Carol Danvers has had a place in my heart without me reading a single issue of hers, when I saw this video on The Escapist about her treatment in The Avengers and how Chris Claremont worked on it. So when I saw she was taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel, in a book written by a writer I already loved from her work on Supergirl, I knew I had to pick it up.

And I wasn’t mistaken.

Miria (Claymore by Norihiro Yagi, English translation from Viz Media)

Oh Claymore, Claymore, Claymore, manga of my heart. The conceit of the series is girls who have been surgically implanted with the  flesh of demons called yoma, granting them superhuman strength and speed. Feared by normal people, Claymores are sent out by a mysterious Organization to fight the yoma that plague the world. But because this is a 20+ volume manga, everything is not as simple as girls fight monsters. The Organization is shadowy and secretive and has ulterior motives, and Miria, the cleverest (and also fastest) Claymore, is out to find out what. Without hurting a single one of her sisters.

Because Miria is the best.

And because I’m celebrating women, and couldn’t narrow it down to 5:

Ten Awesome Female creators of Comics and Manga

G. Willow Wilson (writer: Cairo)

Hiromu Arakawa (writer and artist: Fullmetal Alchemist)

Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer: Captain Marvel)

Nicola Scott (artist: Birds of Prey; Secret Six)

Gail Simone (writer: Birds of Prey; Secret Six)

Amy Reeder (artist: Batwoman)

Jen Van Meter (writer: HawkeyeBlack Lightning: Year One)

Marjane Satrapi (writer and artist: Persepolis)

Amanda Conner (artist: Power Girl)

K.B. Spangler (writer and artist: A Girl and her Fed)

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One Response to There will always be a valley, always mountains we must scale

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