It bothers me when people say, “Where are the strong women in comics?” On the one hand, I get it. They’re referring to the long and torrid history of women in superhero comics, wherein dames have generally either played fatales, girlfriends, or women in refrigerators. The male heroes (is that redundant in this context?) come and go as they please—hell, they even die and come back from the dead—while the female heroes (yes, I decided I’m against the word ‘heroine’) have a history of weaknesses and inane feminine fancy.
I’m sure we’ve all rolled our eyes at an old Wonder Woman comic until we thought our eyeballs would pop out of our heads–if this hasn’t happened to you, you need to practice your eye-rolling. I mean, how does Wonder Woman always end up tied to a chair or otherwise subjected to bondage in every story?
Yes, comic books don’t have the best track record when it comes to women, but when people complain about women in comics, they’re usually referring to superhero comics, which generally have messed up gender stereotypes for everyone to enjoy. Comic book pages may be slightly more offensive for women, but let’s be real: comics showcase rampant stereotypes and a flattening of characters all around, genders be damned.
The women may not be fleshed out, but the men rarely are, either. Superhero comics usually focus on cosmic plots rather than character development, and there’s a place for that– some superhero fights are pretty fun and epic.
Even though some superhero comics have gotten better with character development, there’s a beautiful world outside of superhero comics that show all kinds of characters, both male and female, coping with various crises. And what do you know? There’s character development and fully functioning adults from both genders. Since I’m specifically focusing on dispelling the myth that comics don’t have any strong female characters, here are some of my favorite women in comics.
Alana in Saga.
Saga has some of the best writing in comics, period. All the characters are interesting, fully developed, and downright likable. Alana is one of the few women that I’ve read in fiction—not just comics—who actually sounds like a real, living, breathing, thinking woman. She’s smart, strong, and snarky, and she’d do anything for her child or her husband, which doesn’t make her any less powerful. She’s a balanced, whole individual.