Proud2Bme | 5 Body-Positive, Empowering, Feministy Comic Books to Read Right Now

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5 Body-Positive, Empowering, Feministy Comic Books to Read Right Now

By Diana Denza--As a teenager, I had a bit of an obsession with a little thing called girl power. I carried a wooden Buffy stake around (which I now acknowledge was a very, very bad idea). My homemade Super Sailor Moon won a costume contest at the local dojo. I even bribed my younger sister into filming me capture Clow Cards as Cardcaptor Sakura.

The one thing all these things had in common was the idea that girls are freaking awesome. They can be powerful like Buffy, loyal like the Sailor Senshi or sporty and strong like the young Sakura. Girls can crush on boys (or other girls, or neither) or play sports or perfect their gardening skills or cook or save the world and it’s all portrayed as empowering and good.

Enter 2016 and these kickass magical girls have stuck with me, reminding me that as women, we all brimming with magic, even though life might not let us see it sometimes.

Recently, I’ve been re-reading classic manga series as a form of self-care and as a reminder to myself that women really can be and do impossible things. Armed with recommendations from a couple of my favorite real-life nerds, I’ve been branching out into a genre I avoided for so long: comic books.

What was once a male-dominated scene, well, continues to be a male-dominated scene, but has been making strides in inclusivity. Now, young women walking down the comic book section of their local Barnes & Noble can find heroes of every size, race, gender and sexuality shattering the glass ceiling of the comic book world. It’s great, it’s empowering and heck—it can be intimidating.

So where should a newbie begin his or her journey? I’m on this adventure with you in spirit, and I can at least start you off with five of my favorite picks:

1. Ms. Marvel

In this Ms. Marvel reboot, teenager Kamala Khan goes from good Muslim girl with high grades to good Muslim girl with high grades and badass powers. From dealing with racist remarks from clueless white classmates to her first heartbreak to saving kids from a mad inventor with help from classic superheroes, Kamala proves that she is more than enough for New Jersey—and the entire world of Marvel, for that matter.

2. Jem and the Holograms

It’s not the ‘80s anymore, but Jem and the crew are just as outrageous as ever. I picked up volume 1 of Jem and the Holograms expecting it to be a fluff fest, but I was knocked off my feet by the bursts of colorful illustrations and the amazing, diverse group of female characters. Sure, Jerrica/Jem is great, but the true show-stealer is the relationship between young and spunky Kimber and ultra-curvy, hella smart Stormer. They’re out lady lovers, they’re in opposing bands (gasp) and they have impeccable style. It’s just a match made in pop-punk heaven, am I right?

3. Lumberjanes

At Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, three-eyed monsters abound and friendship might not be everything, but it comes pretty close. Roanoke cabin’s Mal, Molly, April, Ripley and Jo chase a wolf woman, beat up rabid foxes, face a water monster, get stuck in a cave and much more. And guess what? They are valued for the quirky, skilled people they are, and not for being thin, trendy or white. Plus, Rosie the camp director has lots of tattoos and a knack for bending the rules, meaning that I kind of want to be her when I grow up. 

4. The Infinite Loop

What happens when you fall in love with what you’ve built your career upon destroying? Originally a French Kickstarter initiative, The Infinite Loop centers on the story of Teddy and her “anomaly” girlfriend, Ano. Will true love prevail or will the cycle of hatred continue to destroy us all? And what the heck is an anomaly, anyway? I could tell you, but I’d rather you read it and find out for yourself. I will say that this is the comic that 16-year-old me would have adored when she was realizing that maybe she wasn’t so hetero after all.

5. Spider Gwen

If you’ve ever watched the Amazing Spider Man just for the charming and wickedly smart Gwen Stacy, you should pick up this comic because we both know that we won’t be seeing her on the big screen anymore. Set on Earth-65, Spider Gwen explores an alternate universe where Gwen was bitten by a radioactive spider and Peter dies. Will she save the world from the forces of evil? Will she make it to band practice in time? You’ll need to pick up issue 0 to find out.

Do you have any recs to add to my list? Leave ‘em in the comments below.
 

About the blogger: Diana Denza is NEDA’s youth outreach coordinator. Want to see what she’s reading now? Find her on Goodreads

Also by Diana:

Proud2B Outrageous: An Interview with Jessie Kahnweiler of ‘The Skinny’

Top image credit: Ms. Marvel is property of Marvel Entertainment

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