In case you didn't know it, March is women's history month. In honor of that, we're looking at comic books featuring strong female leads.
Of course, now, comic books with female lead characters are mainstream. With titles like Wonder Woman, Thor, Harley Quinn and Batgirl, good female leads in comics are readily available, which is, obviously great news for comics' growing number of female fans.
However, some titles with great female leads aren't readily known, so we're going to shine the light outside of the mainstream on some books you might not even know about. And the good news is that these titles are readily available at your local comic book store, as well as online.
Saga is one of those comic books that comes along once in a generation. It will make you laugh and cry and suck you in until you just can't put it down. But it also features some great female characters.
Saga is a space opera/fantasy: think of it as a more adult and gritty version of Star Wars. It's narrated by a female character named Hazel, who, at least in the first few issues, hasn't actually been born yet and only appears in the story as an embryo, the child of two star-crossed lovers from warring planets, Alana and Marko.
Alana, though, is tough as nails, a female character we can get behind and root for. When officials from both planets go looking for Alana and Marko, she must do everything it takes to survive, both for herself and her husband, as well as for Hazel.
Saga is one of those comics often recommended for those just getting into comic books, and the Brian K. Vaughan's story is why, but equally as important is Fiona Staples' artwork.
Long after the end of the Buffy, The Vampire Slayer television series, fans still crave for the adventures of this strong woman, The Chosen One, she who must fight demons and vampires and keep the world safe from them.
That's why Buffy's story continues in the comic books with some of the earlier books taking place between seasons of the TV series, but the newer issues picking up where the series left off.
Most importantly, the Buffy TV series' creator Joss Whedon, along with other writers from the series, occasionally writes some of the stories seen in the comic books.
Josie Schuller is the perfect model of the 1950s housewife and Avon lady. Perfectly pressed and proper, she would make Donna Reed bow down before her. However, she has a dark secret: in her spare time, she's an assassin for the government. That's right, Miss Perfect kills people for a living.
In the comic, Josie balances her two lives as perfectly as her table setting. The comic serves to provide a reminder of gender roles during the time, but also shows us a woman who defies those roles, especially in her life as an assassin.
We can't mention female characters in comics without mentioning writer Gail Simone, who created controversy when she was fired from Batgirl and then re-hired after fans expressed their outrage. Her latest title is Red Sonja, who is, basically, the female version of Conan the Barbarian.
Although Red Sonja runs around in a chainmail bikini, which is still a little gratuitous, she also kicks major butt. In the first issue, she takes on an entire army, and ultimately, leads them to their death.
However, there's more to the barbaric woman than her weapons.
"I have always said that the thing that makes Red Sonja MOST dangerous is not her skill with a sword, or her speed," says Simone. "It's her cunning. Red Sonja is cunning. And she gets what she wants."
Cat is normal, and therein lies her problem, because she lives in Gloria City, where everyone else is a superhero. She's rarely taken serious, but she is also probably the smartest person in the city. Eventually, Cat gets tired of being treated as subpar, so she takes up a costume, using her brain to save the world from itself.
Cat is the result of several writers and artists tired of the old cliches of women in comic books. She's never drawn in the ridiculous poses we often see in female characters and her number one asset is that she's smart and knows it.
"My So-Called Secret Identity features a superhero we all can rally around, an antidote to the brawny chauvinists and busty sex symbols of mainstream comics," writes Ms. Magazine. "Cat certainly has a bright future ahead of her."
[Photo Credit: Image Comics]